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Leading Through Uncertainty

We know what you’re thinking. “Not another #COVID19 article.” Not to worry, we’re providing you some insight on how you can lead your team through the next few weeks (or months?).

Let us start off by saying “Who gives a s#*t?”  To put it bluntly, if this is the first time you are talking to your clients, you are screwed.  No one cares how you are handling it – they care about how they are handling it.  People are scared. This black swan event is one that no one prepared for. Right now we are all trying to figure out how to keep the doors open.

What can you do as a leader?

First, chill out.  Meditate, go for walks, stress bake, or figure out what your go-to is for reducing your stress. This will help you act insightfully and rationally, not out of fear. Get real clear real quick as your level head is needed now more than ever.

Second, take a step back. What is the short-term impact to your company?  What is the state of your cash flow situation?  How long can you keep running and at what pace? (I won’t go into how you should have already known this through good business acumen. We’ll save that for another day). Figure out the next week. Then the next pay cycle. Then the next month.  Day by day, week by week, piece by piece.

Third, look for areas to pivot quickly and where you can exploit opportunities. (By exploit we don’t mean nefariously, only above-board ideas please.) What can you leverage quickly to keep your business afloat?  Where can you pursue leads with limited effort to increase sales or revenue?  Where can you cut costs?

Costs are always the easiest – it’s finding new revenue sources that requires creativity, forward-thinking and leadership.  Before you start cutting everything, what can grow with minimal investment?

Finally, lead like your business depends on it.  Because it does.  Now is not a time to delegate to your surrogates.  Now is not a time to not answer hard questions.  Now is the time to show your business what you are made of.  Even if you’re closing your doors or laying people off, the way and manner that you choose to do it will be remembered.  If you are an entrepreneur at heart, you will take another shot at it in the future.

 

Who knows? You may even pivot to a new business model and revenue stream that only enhances your business AND keeps your employees employed. People will remember how you handled your business during these times. Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do.

 

Stay sane.
Exploit opportunities.
Lead from the front.
Act with kindness and grace.

 

Netiquette

Now more than ever digital marketing is a peak requirement for visibility. While the world is hunkering down, business for many in the GovCon space continues. It’s time to get on the social train or get run over! Social Media isn’t just for “the kids” or the younger generation anymore. Businesses across industries are utilizing newer marketing techniques to stay connected and GovCon is no different. When viewing digital marking from a place of visibility, NOT being on social media could be harming your prospects before you have a chance to throw your hat in the ring.

For starters, let’s talk netiquette, or the etiquette you use when interacting online.

Be Human
You will NOT ruin your business’s brand simply by being on social media.
Our advice is to avoid the big three:

• Anything that you don’t want plastered on the side of a bus
• Anything you wouldn’t say on a stage in front of potential clients
• Anything that belongs on TMZ (you know, the gossip show.)

Instead, what you should do is to remember that you’re speaking to your audience on your profiles the same way you speak to someone in conversation. Humor is okay, conversation is okay (and encouraged), being a resource to your network is invaluable. **Side note here: Being human means speaking as you would when in a face-to-face conversation. You wouldn’t insert your business offerings to conversations randomly, so don’t link drop and run!

Be Active
Committing to a social presence means being active regularly. Long gaps between postings on your LinkedIn profile may be more detrimental than not having a social presence at all. When a potential client or customer searches your business online, and you know they will, they want to see that you take pride in what you do. Social media is the ultimate “we love our business’ pride machine. If you’re not willing to talk about it online, why would they?

Be Patient
As much as an audience of thousands or tens of thousands sounds nice in reality it is more of a vanity metric than a gauge of success. What matters more is the engagement (comments, shares, direct messages) that drives the success of a digital presence. If your posted content is driving new people to your website, that’s success. Even better, if your email or phone are becoming more active due to the content you’re sharing online, that’s Social media is no longer an “if you build it, they will come” type of endeavor. It takes strategy, execution, and patience to build a robust presence that turns connections into leads.

At BOOST we practice what we preach. While we understand that times are currently changing (and very likely unstable) we also know that business will continue! We believe in providing value through our blogs (like the one you’re reading), our free consultation (schedule one here), our free downloadable white papers, and more. We recommend that you take a look at your current social presence and identify which platforms and what kind of content could make a difference for your business. We can help with a high-level digital diagnostic to get you started.  Contact us! 

End of a Year, Start of a Decade*

We are looking dead straight into 2020, right around the corner.  How did that happen?  The expression “the days are long, but the years are short” rings particularly true to me this year.  As we close out the year and the decade, it’s a good time for reflection on where things stand as a business owner.  At the top of my list for this holiday season is to proactively take time to reflect on the state of the business and what the next year and next decade look like.

Here are some thoughts to get you started:

  • Most importantly…Are you doing what you want to do?
    Do you love it (you don’t have to like it every day)?  You may have started your business and things may have grown significantly or gone in a different direction from your original intent.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s a good time to take a hard look at what you are doing and ask if it’s what you want as the owner.  Is it time to retire?  Sell?  Buy another company?  Pivot into different offerings?  Different clients?  View the turning of the calendar as a new opportunity to reinvent your company or reinvigorate it.
  • Strategy.  Does it exist?
    Are you following it?  If not, why?  Do you have an exit plan?  What steps are you taking to meet your goals?  Now is the time to really think hard about if things are working, what could be tweaked, what you want to accomplish and how you’ll get there.  We all know that things change rapidly in business (hourly somedays!).  When was the last time you pulled your head out of the tactical and really spent some time on the long-term strategy?  Not a corporate off-site with a ton of PowerPoints….but time by yourself reflecting and thinking?  Pull your head out of the day-to-day.
  • Scale.  Are you scalable?
    If you meet your goals or make significant progress towards them, do you have the support to deliver?  What do you need to do that?  Scalability is critical to success should things start to pop quickly.
  • Partners. Do you know your own?
    We all need them. Do you have the right ones that can help you in the next phase of your company?  This isn’t just teaming partners (though we’ve got a platform for that), it’s the right advisors, right support and even the right mentors.
  • Well-being. How’s your health CEO?
    It’s an overused buzz word but damn if it doesn’t impact everything.  Are you burnt out mentally and physically?  Are you taking care of yourself?  A reminder that money is just an asset.  Your health cannot be bought.  Your overall well-being and wellness are what will allow you to enjoy the success you worked so hard for.  Figure out what works for you in terms of stress management and overall health.
  • Gratitude. Do you take time to appreciate your life and the people in it?
    No one got to the top alone, no one built a successful company alone.  Are you truly grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given?  Are you grateful for your life?

Taking time to truly appreciate what you have is important and contributes to your overall well-being.  Your well-being contributes to being a better partner to others.  Having partners to leverage allows you to scale faster and with better results.  Scalability leads to a strategy that will actually work.  Put this all together and, you’ll love what you do.  Be better in 2020.

*While “technically” we understand that a new decade begins 1/1/2021, we’re all about those round numbers. (Thanks, Frank!)

DCAA Compliance for Small Businesses

As a small govcon have you ever thought…do I really need to be DCAA compliant? What if I’m “just a subcontractor” or “too small that DCAA will never notice me”?
We hear the following from companies more often then they’d like to admit:

  • It’s so complicated to get DCAA compliant (insert the eye roll and swipe across the forehead)
  • It’s such as hassle, I’ll do it when we get bigger (the procrastinator)
  • I have both commercial and government business, so the govcon piece won’t get noticed (I’m awesome and therefore the rules don’t apply)
  • It’s too expensive (cheap catches up to you)
  • I only have FFP and T&M contracts, so I won’t get audited (wrong!)
  • If I fail an audit, I’ll get excused because I’m a small business (nope, the small business card doesn’t work with DCAA)

To these “excuses” our advice is…

Get DCAA compliant and now!

Here’s why:

• It’s not as complicated as what you think.
There four primary components to being DCAA compliant – chart of accounts, timekeeping, forward pricing and policies and procedures. No one accounting system is deemed DCAA compliant.  It’s all about how your system is configured and your policies and procedures. A professional firm who knows DCAA compliant accounting is necessary to get the work done right…the first time.

• Small = less $ to become compliant.
Design a system that scales with you and the savings will be impressive. Retrofitting a large existing system to be DCAA compliant is time consuming and expensive.  Don’t get lazy – get it done when you are small.

• It’s a Pass/Fail test.
The is no B or C grade. You either pass or you fail.  Failing costs money and more money than it takes to preemptively become DCAA compliant.

• Timekeeping is like eating healthy.
It’s all about behavior modification. It takes daily reminders to establish healthy eating habits and it is the same for timekeeping. Additionally, it’s the most critical component of the DCAA audit.  Establishing solid policies and procedures for timekeeping when you are small is the easiest way to establish behaviors and set the tone for the critical importance of timekeeping.  Get HR involved because timekeeping should be in your employee handbook.  Educate employees on why timekeeping is important.

• Improve your dating profile.
Teaming partners, especially large integrators, like to work with small businesses that are DCAA compliant. You might not have been audited yet, but you are prepared in case you do and that is half of the battle.

Bottom line – get DCAA compliant now!
BOOST can help and it’s one of our favorite accounting projects. Well, we have lots of favorites, but this one is rewarding and we actually like doing it!  So, now go get healthy, change your behavior, spend some money in order to save some money and prepare for the inevitable.

What is a CPSR and Why Should You Care?

We recently told you about the Contractor Purchasing System Review (CPSR) process, and today we will (attempt to) convince you to care about this mega-compliance hurdle. If you want to read more about a CPSR, check out our white paper here.

There appears to be a trend in government evaluations looking for CPSR compliant contractors. CPSR compliance was an extra 500 points for the recent OASIS bid.  Many of our competitors will happily sell you a CPSR package without blinking at the cost or whether you actually needed it.

Who needs CPSR?
First, the main factor we tell our clients is to assess how much subcontracting work they do.  If your business weighs heavily on issuing a myriad of subcontracts or large procurements in support of your prime contract awards, then you have checked the first box to “needing” a CPSR compliance plan.  The remaining boxes are comprehensive.

Second, if a majority of your work is with the DoD, you may want to consider checking out DFARS 252. 252.244-7001, the regulatory birth of what a CPSR compliant system looks like. Finally, if your contract says you have to be CPSR compliant – we hope you already have systems in place to pass an audit before signing the dotted line.

Finally, most organizations do not like or want a CPSR compliance plan because of the heavy administrative burden it places on corporate processes.  Think about the last time you waited for a large GovCon to issue you a subcontract that was allegedly “on fire.”  In most cases, the subcontractor is issued a letter subcontract or works at-risk with an authorization to proceed (also part of the CPSR compliant program) before the “real” subcontract is issued.  This is because nearly all GovCons with CPSR compliance programs have to take several steps to coordinate awarding a procurement.  These steps were put in place to comply with CPSR requirements.

If we have not talked you out of it and you are ready to start the box-checking, administrative hurdles of CPSR land, consider an organization like BOOST that will tailor a compliance plan to fit your organization. We will not open a canned manual and serve it to you on a platter. We exist to add value. We can provide a customized CPSR plan; if you need it.

Military Spouses as Employees | Part 1

The following is the first in a two-part piece discussing the challenges and strengths of being, hiring and working with military spouses.

 

Military Spouses are among the most dedicated groups in our nation. It is not easy to understand or imagine their struggle as one half of a highly dedicated and honorable partnership.

I recently watched a show about a military attachment where there was local unrest about a war. A military spouse (mil spouse) stood up to the protestors outside of a prominent military base, and asked why they weren’t supporting their troops?
The leader of the protestors asked something to the effect of “how do we know that the troops even support fighting this war.” The mil spouse responded, “how do we know you have a sense of honor?”

In that one question, she hit a very pertinent nail on its head.
Why do mil spouses make great employees?  Honor.
They have it and that same honor is instilled throughout their families. Honor is the backbone to many of the desired features of a “model” employee. From there you can include the characteristics of someone who is reliable, trustworthy and has a good work ethic. These are highly marketable and employable qualities.

Here’s the challenge for mil spouses:

  • They move constantly
  • They are readily tasked with rearing their children alone as a result of the active duty service member’s obligations

Here is a solution:

This challenge is surmountable! Do they have skills they can do from anywhere? Simply because they have a license in one state does not mean they are doomed when the PCS (permanent change in station) orders arrive. Consulting is a viable career option that adds schedule flexibility.

 

BOOST provides back-office support services such as accounting, bookkeeping, contracts, and recruiting. While our niche is GovCon, it can be learned by the “right” type of employee. One that is willing to work for the knowledge. Based on the criterion we search for, a mil spouse could be a fantastic addition.

For spouses lacking skills in back-office services, there are a variety of programs to assist with career advancement. A specific program that teaches GovCon back office skills may not readily exist there may be an opportunity for a non-profit to boost mil spouse employment.

*For Example See MyCAA at military.com that describes tuition assistance for spouses of
E-1 to E-5, W-1 to W-2 and O-1 to O-2 members.

If you would like more information regarding the opportunities for mil spouses as employees for BOOST or some of our trusted partners, please connect with us on LinkedIn or email [email protected].

 

 

 

*From https://www.military.com/education/money-for-school/military-spouse-career-advancement-accounts-financial-aid.html

Orange

With apologies to the Crossfit disciples, I’ve been seeing orange lately.

As anyone who enters their 40’s discovers, the body ain’t what it used to be!  You suddenly give a lot more thought to whether your core is strong enough. Such is life.  This past August, I decided to get off my ass and start doing something (versus the three years before where I said I was going to).  Enter Orange Theory Fitness (OTF).  I’ve spent countless hours on the treadmill listening to coaches encourage me to power walk/jog/run through their stages. It occurred to me that the stages very much align with business.

Base

Base in OTF is something that you can hold for 20 minutes without an issue.  Essentially, your heart rate is up, but it’s doable without a ton of effort.

In business, this aligns with steady state.  Let’s hope it is better than status quo, as you are constantly striving to improve.  Your team knows what they are doing and is rocking it out.  Ops is meeting the mission, BD is taking meetings, you are block and tackling and in general, everyone is in “just keep swimming” stage.  It’s comfortable and it is where you start to think you’ve got this whole business thing down pat.

Things to remember during this stage:

  • Too long here equals flatlined growth and decreasing margins
  • Customer relations can get stale with the same old thing
  • Employees can get bored
  • Great for a new team to get comfortable with their responsibilities and interactions
  • Watch your cash flow and your multiplier and make sure all are aligned

Too much time in this phase and nothing changes.  Not enough time and you’ve got burnt out people.

Enter…The Push.

Push

Push is something at a pace that makes you uncomfortable.  Your heart rate is elevated, you can only hold the push for 5 mins, maybe a bit more, but it will wear you out.  It takes most or all of your focus.

A few recompetes are coming up, you’ve got a staffing shortage and your competition just beat you for a new contract.  Perhaps the large integrators are sniffing around to buy the company, or they are pushing you on margins.  Maybe you have a couple of new start programs with important customers that must transition well, and the incumbent isn’t making it easy.

Things to remember during this stage:

  • The team is up for the challenge, but they need to know when it ends.
  • Effective communication is critical. You will waste time in endless meetings or have a duplication of efforts without strong communication. Let your entire company know if folks are taxed.
  • Most of these issues are something you could have predicted. Plan ahead for how you are going to handle them.

Everyone is working hard with long hours and a surplus of meetings, but they see the reward for their efforts.

That is, unless you find yourself in an All-Out after your push.

All Out

All outs push you physically and mentally.  You are at your fastest and you leave nothing in the tank.  You will need to pull from within to get through it.  Most of the challenge is mental.  You can keep this going for only 1-3 minutes.

In business, that may look like: entering a contract win that doubles the company or losing a contract for half your company. It could be  two or three must win proposals hitting at the same time or several key personnel leaving at the same time.  It might entail a complete pivot in offerings or a cash flow shortage.  Speaking realistically, it could be a government shutdown. Are you sweating yet?

Things to remember during this stage:

  • Your leadership team had better be the A team. If you’ve been letting anyone slide during the other phases, now is when you (and the rest of the team) will regret it.  Think about this while you’re in the Base or Push phases.
  • Keep your line of communication open with your customer, your banker and your lawyer. They can help ease the transition burden, fight where you need to legally and most importantly, supply the cash for the bumpy road.
  • Break tasks into small milestones. Focus the team on the next gate to get it done.  Don’t overwhelm everyone with the size of the task that is in front of you.  Have small rewards for these accomplishments – even if it’s just better takeout in the war room.
  • Be appreciative. Understand that this will make you and your team stronger on the other side.  Reflect on what the added benefit is to your company and team.

When you’ve made it through the All Out, your team doesn’t immediately need to go to base, but rather, a rest and recovery phase.

Rest and Recovery

Immediately follows an All Out and allows you to catch your breath and focus on calming your heart rate.  Some people need a lot of rest and recovery to bounce back.  Others need just a bit before they get back to base.  There is no one size fits all answer and your time in rest and recovery may vary depending on how you feel and how much effort you gave in your All Out.

Don’t jump back into base or assume that your team can go back to normal.  Give your team and company time to recover.

Things to remember during this stage:

  • Nothing feels better than a couple of days off without email and a bonus check for your efforts. Send your team away for a long weekend (away from each other!).
  • Let your cash flow recover – make no major investments or outlay of cash.
  • Don’t make any major changes. Just sit with the experience and reflect on lessons learned.  You can change things after the rest and recovery.

Regardless of what stage you are in, keep moving forward.  And keep that core strong!

In order to better prepare in the Base and Push phases, you’ll want to have a strong team at the ready. BOOST is connected to an array of great people and smart businesses that can help to get you where you need to be. Connect with us to help support your business by emailing [email protected].