Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Contracting Guide – A 10 Step Process to contracting with Civilian Agencies and DOD

1. Get Registered!!!!

Register your SDVOSB with the IRS. Obtain an EIN – Employee Indentification Number from the IRS – Do it online!!!!  Fast and Free!!!   www.irs.gov

Stop here before you pass "GO"


Register the Domain name of your SDVOSB
– www. “Your-SDVOSB-Name-Here”.com

– Ours is PrepFire Solutions, we registered www.prepfire.com There are a lot of different companies that can register your domain name, we have used www.godaddy.com and www.1and1.com – they can also help you develop your website and host your email for very low cost.

Obtain a DUNS Number. The Data Universal Number System (DUNS) Number is a unique nine character identification. Contact Dun and Bradstreet to obtain your DUNS number if you do not have one.

Register with Central Contractor Registration. In order to be awarded a contract from the DoD, you must be registered in Central Contractor Registration (CCR). CCR is a database which stores information relevant to procurement and financial transactions. CCR also allows you to receive rapid electronic payment of your invoices. CCR assumed all of SBA’s PRO-Net search capabilities and functions on January 1, 2004, so small businesses now need only to register with CCR.

2. Separate your SDVOSB from the pack

By identifying your product(s) or services as something unique or of good valve to the government, you separate yourself from the competition.  Knowing the Federal Supply Class or Service (FSC/SVC) codes and North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for your products or services is of the utmost importance.

Separate Yourself From the Pack

3. Focus your attention on your target market or agency

Identify Your Target Market Civilian Agency or DoD. Researching DoD Personnel & Procurement Statistics will be very helpful to your SDVOSB. Pay particular attention the Standard Tabulation (ST) 28 report of products and services purchased each fiscal year by the DoD. The information on the ST28 is sorted by FSC/SVC code and provides name and location of DoD contracting offices. The ST28 report is located at the bottom of the Procurement Statistics page and can be cross-referenced with the list of Small Business Specialists within each service organization.

Aquire Your Target

4. Look for Opportunities!

Identify Current Civilian & DoD Procurement Opportunities Check the electronic version of the Federal Business Opportunities website to identify current procurement opportunities for your products or services. This site will assist you in identifying DoD, as well as other Federal procurement opportunities.

5. Familiarize Yourself with DoD Contracting Procedures

Make sure you are familiar with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS).

6. Investigate Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Contracts

Many DoD purchases are actually orders on Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts. Contact the General Services Administration (GSA) for additional information on obtaining FSS contracts.

7. Seek Additional Assistance as Needed

Take advantage of the resources available to assist you in the DoD marketplace. Here are just a few to get you started:

Procurement Technical Assistance Centers – Most states have Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) that are partially funded by DoD to provide small businesses with information on how to do business with the Department of Defense. These PTACs provide training and counseling on marketing, financial, and contracting issues with little or no cost to the SDVOSB.

Electronic BusinessElectronic Business (eBusiness) provides guidance for SDVOSBs new to the DoD electronic marketplace.

Small Business Specialists – Some Defense Agencies and the Military Services have small business specialists at each of their procurement and contract management offices. These business specialists assist small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned, in marketing their products and services to the DoD. Among the services offered, the business specialists provide information and guidance on the following:

– Defense Procurement Procedures
– Solicitation Mailing List Placement
– Identify Prime Contract and Subcontract Opportunities.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Defense Logistics Agency maintain the names of Small Business Specialists associated with their organizations. Links to these websites are below.

The official web site for the Department of Defense is DefenseLink. DefenseLink is the best place to find links to the Military Services and ODAs.

8. Explore All Sub-contracting Opportunities

No matter which products and services your SDVOSB offers, be sure to check out the DoD guide “Subcontracting Opportunities with DoD Prime Contractors”. This directory provides, by state, the names and addresses of DoD prime contractors, the names and telephone numbers of Small Business Liaison Officers (SBLOs), and the products and services supplied to the DoD.  Also research “The Fed 100” – which is the largest 100 Federal Government Contractors.

Sub-Contracting

The Small Business Administrations’s (SBA’s) SUB-Net is another valuable resource for obtaining information on subcontracting opportunities. Solicitations or notices are posted by prime contractors as well as other government, commercial, and educational entities.

9. Investigate Civilian & DoD Small-Business Programs

There are several DoD programs that are very helpful. Programs such as Veteran-Owned, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned, HUBZone, Small Disadvantaged, Woman-Owned, Small Business Innovation Research, Small Business Technology Transfer, and other Minority Institutions are of particular interest. Information on these and many other DoD Small Business Programs can be found on the DoD Office of Small Business Programs website.

10. Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

After you identify your customers, research their requirements, and become familiar with DoD procurement regulations and strategies, you will be ready to market your product or service. A good way to get the attention of your target audience is to present your capabilities directly to the DoD activities that buy your products or services. Additional helpful DoD marketing resources are posted on the DoD website, including “Government Contracting: The Basics” and “Marketing to the Department of Defense: The Basics”.

Marketing Funnel

Making Your Biz Media Savvy

Interesting article from Porfolio.com – by Romy Ribitzky

Making Your Biz Media Savvy

The Tastee Sup Shop didn’t mount a full-scale PR campaign advocating itself as the quintessential presidential stump stop before President Obama visited Wednesday to talk about small businesses. The Edison, New Jersey, restaurant doesn’t have a fancy website. And it gets by without a Twitter account.

But the amount of media attention the shop got because of the presidential visit—not to mention the future folklore allure it stands to gain—show that small businesses don’t necessarily need to have big pockets to get the media’s attention. A news hook, a celebrity visit, or a killer product launch can all help to get buzz swirling among sometimes fickle and jaded reporters.

So what’s the best course for a small business that’s trying to get out a branding message or news of a product launch so its customer base knows what’s going on?

Trying to hold a media event involves multiple moving parts, and making sure that they come together properly can be tricky, says Marsha Friedman, CEO of EMSI Public Relations, a national PR firm based in Clearwater, Florida.

“Getting a television crew to your event requires some finesse, and the format of the pitch is different than that of a press release,” she says. “A media alert is the appropriate tool which gives a TV producer or assignment-desk editor all the information they need to decide on whether the event you’re holding is of interest to them.”

When it comes to the pitch, concise and to the point is the way to go, media experts say. Since the media tends to ask the same major questions, structure the pitch to answer the following: Who, what, why, when, where, and visuals, Friedman recommends.

But even before writing a single word, do your homework. A quick Internet search can help businesses identify local (and national) reporters who cover their beat, product type, branding element, or business interest. Knowing who to send alerts to takes the pitch from a blind send to a targeted campaign that is more likely to yield results since you’re connecting reporters, editors, and producers—who have to find fresh material every day—with subject matter already of inherent interest to them.

Once you’ve identified the initial core audience, focus on the basics:

  • Who: This may sound like a no-brainer, but make sure to include your company’s name as well as the names and titles of any people who’ll be in attendance.
  • What and Why: Make sure to let editors and producers know why you’re holding a presser and what the announcement is.
  • When and Where: The worst thing about putting time and effort into creating a media opportunity is doing all that work and having no one show up. Let outlets know exactly what date and time—as well as the address—of your event. Include your expected duration, a set of directions to the venue, and a link to Google Maps, Mapquest, or mapping site of your choice.
  • Visuals: If television is your medium, make sure the crew has something exciting to shoot. Demos, graphs and charts trump talking heads any day and have a higher chance of catching the media’s attention.

Have the basics covered? Now it’s time to follow up. Editors and producers can get hundreds of emails in a given day. After you send the email, find an artful way to touch base with them that’s assertive but not overly invasive, experts say. There’s a fine line between being informative and being annoying.

If the team’s interest is piqued, find out who to keep in touch with and keep them informed of any last-minute changes and confirmations up until—and following—the event. Don’t forget to call or email on the actual day of your happening, just to make sure nothing else has come up in the meanwhile.

If holding a media circus—big or small—is not in the budget, fear not. Other avenues, such as radio or being booked as a guest commentator, analyst, or expert either on a local or national show, can go a long way toward gaining the public’s trust.

Working with a PR team can help focus your message and take the responsibility of following the news minute to minute to identify opportunities out of your already-overloaded hands. But if hiring a public relations firm is too expensive, consider doing it yourself. After all, no one knows a brand better than the person heading the company. And these days, thanks to social media, reaching out to a target audience is easier than ever, and often all it costs is time.

“With access tools like HARO [Help a Reporter Out], that bring the media opportunities to you, being reactive is easy and cheap,” says Margo Schneider, vice president at Ketchum, a full-service global public relations firm based in New York.

The same search and pitch tips still apply here. Find out where your audience is communicating, drop in and listen to the conversation, and jump in where it makes sense, social-media and PR experts say. It’s important not to bombard your Twitter, Facebook, and other social-media platforms just with information about your brand. Rather, find out where people are already talking about a similar product or need and give them information of value.

“Your audience is actively seeking you, or your product, through online research. Make sure you’re active in their arena so you can be found,” says Katherine O’Hara, vice president of New Jersey-based S3, an advertising, media, and public relations firm. “Blogging creates HTML-based text that is tapped by search engines and smiled upon given its constant refreshing of content.”

Building up respect and the reputation of a trusted brand will get companies noticed, especially when reporters are looking for good sources. Sure, it may take more time out of your busy day, but if you don’t have the public relations team or political machine on the scale that the president does, taking a few hours a day to interact with your customers and the media people who follow your brand can result in a booking. Once you connect with a journalist, “make the most of this opportunity by asking the reporter to link to your blog or mention your Twitter handle,” suggests O’Hara. And while most outlets don’t pay a guest-appearance fee, the publicity that comes out of being tagged an expert can be priceless.

Another way to get noticed is by sharing insightful information with the community. “Build case studies of how you’ve tackled challenges all small businesses are facing (e.g., surviving the recession) or unique challenges you’ve tackled or tools you’ve employed with breakthrough results,” says Marie Wiltz, senior media specialist with Ketchum. Executives can take that a step further by writing byline pieces on leadership, management, and/or the issues that small businesses are facing, adds Wiltz.

To be even more relevant, “be ready to divulge real business challenges—cash-flow issues, mistakes you’ve made, and how you’ve dealt with them—these are the things the small-business media are looking to share with their readers who want key learnings,” says Schneider.

Finally, get in front of the crowd as much as possible. Speaking engagements are still one of the best ways to get yourself out there, O’Hara says. “It places you in front of a captive audience while positioning you as an expert. Make sure to promote such engagements on your website, blog, and fan page. Even if people aren’t able to attend, it adds weight to your credentials.”

Presidential Task Force on Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Business-Analysis

This is a great article from Hardy Stone and can be found at http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/06/16/presidential-task-force-on-service-disabled-veteran-owned-business-analysis/

Ten years after President Clinton signed PL 106-50 (The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999), President Obama issued an Executive Order on April 26 to establish an interagency Task Force (TF) to ‘study’ and assist federal agencies to comply with that ten-year-old law.

PL 106-50 started the ball slowly rolling, establishing a ‘mandate’ that all federal agencies must award 3% of their contracting budget to SDVOSB. Less than a year later, it was apparent that very, very few federal agencies were observing the law of the land. The VA, however, has consistently awarded above the 3% minimum. In FY 2008, the VA awarded 11.76% of its contracts to SDVOSB.

But with other federal agencies, this law has been a total joke. Congress preens to the American people that it‘supports’ our troops—but yet that support is run through the political wash cycle. But Congress sure supports our troops….all the way to the ballot box.

Agency-by-agency 2008 scorecard: http://tinyurl.com/26fthq5

Didn’t President G.W. Bush establish “The Military Reservist and Veteran Small Business Reauthorization and Opportunity Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-186)?” http://tinyurl.com/29l2ry6

Was it enacted on February 14th, 2008? Was it all smoke? Was it a total non-starter?

The aims of President Obama’s TF include:

1. improving capital access and capacity of small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans and service-disabled veterans through loans, surety bonding, and franchising; This is not the problem. Everybody need financing, bonding and franchise assistance. We need opportunities.

ensuring achievement of the pre-established Federal contracting goals for small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans and service-disabled veterans through expanded mentor-protégé assistance and matching such small business concerns with contracting opportunities;

This is the crux of the problem. But read the fine print: “ensuring achievement of the pre-established federal contracting goals… through expanded mentor-protégé assistance and matching such small business concerns with contracting opportunities…”

What? Excuse me? This language reads as if SDVOSB’s need counseling, as if the federal agencies have been waiting for SDVOSB to get their act together…

No…you don’t understand, Mr. President. The agencies need counseling not SDVOSB. How about ordering all Executive Branch agencies to take a crash course in obeying the law?

Increasing the integrity of certifications of status as a small business concern owned and controlled by a veteran or service-disabled veteran;

Bingo on this. In a GAO November 2009 report, 100% of the companies GAO sampled were ineligible for contracts set-aside for SDVOSB. They falsified because they could…self certification encourages bogus businesses to claim SDVOSB status. The American people should be outraged. But they’re not. Not because they don’t care…they just don’t know.

The VA has no budget to increase staff for certification and verification. And VA has absolutely no enforcement authority except for ‘debarring’ bogus companies from doing business with the VA;

Reducing paperwork and administrative burdens on veterans in accessing business development and entrepreneurship opportunities;

Great…no one likes red tape. Now get these administrative employees reassigned to the certification backlog. Increasing and improving training and counseling services provided to small business concerns owned and controlled by veterans;

blah, blah, blah. More government-spin…

Making other improvements relating to the support for veterans business development by the Federal Government.

For all intents and purposes, this is the same voice we heard from the 2008 TF. And let’s put SBA in charge again! Afterall, in FY 2008, SBA awarded a pathetic .85 % of the mandated 3%. And what an enforcement agency they truly are…they only pursue bogus companies if a protest is filed.

What about putting VA in charge, their 2008 numbers are 11.76% of contract funding to SDVOSB.

The VA should be the Department running the show and providing ‘mentor-protégé’ programs to other government agencies. Training programs for federal contracting officers and procurement directors—so they can obey the law.

Partial solution: Make the Department/agency heads accountable. Develop in their performance evaluations a measure of meeting that 3%. Agency Directors would then delegate this evaluation criteria to the Chief Procurement Officers—the Procurement Heads can then put pressure on contracting officers, who really are the ones who can get it done. This ain’t gonna happen.

However, we have do have members of Congress watching this time around (see featured interview with Congressman Nye). Maybe they will make accountability of the Departments a real reality. SDVOSB’s can always hope…we’ve been hoping for ten years…maybe this time, maybe, just maybe. ~~

National Small Business Week

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has proclaimed National Small Business Week to recognize the contributions of small business to our economic well being.

With this Sunday’s start to National Small Business Week, it is an appropriate time to speak out about how important small businesses really are to the American economy.

For example, firms with less than 500 employees drive the economy by providing jobs for over half of the nation’s workforce.  They create between 60-80 percent of new jobs in the country.  Not only that, but small businesses are high innovators, providing many of the new and creative ideas that spur growth.   Employees of small businesses often have a genuine stake in the productive process, giving them more sense of ownership than in a large company.  It is easier to get to the top people in the company, often the owner, when you have questions or problems, or talk to the same representative who knows you and your situation, as opposed to large corporations, with few personal client relationships.  Small businesses can react more quickly to client demands as well, creating a competitive advantage as well as a trust advantage.

In researching the SBA statistics, I was surprised to find that very little has been quantified since 2002 (after the last census data was culled) so with the massive downturn in the economy, trying to quote from that data is outdated at best.  We will have to wait to accurately account for small business numbers until the 2010 census is complete, but based on historical data we can again reiterate that small businesses are indeed major contributors to the strengths of the U.S. economy.

In closing, if you are forming a SDVOSB, try to be an innovator, set you and your company apart from the others.  Every time we turn around we run into another SDVOSB that is starting out and trying to do everything under the sun instead of specializing in an area.  You will see them out there, they claim they can do Information Technology, Mow Grass, Security Guards, Paint Buildings, etc. and they rarely win any contracts.  In our experience, the SDVOSBs that succeed have a niche.