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Building Business Opportunities in the GovCon Arena

In this digital event Robin Desmore Scott, BOOST’s Director of Contracts is joined by Dwight Gibbs and Scott Keough of Contraqer Corp to discuss Building Business Opportunities in the GovCon Arena with Award and Opportunity Search.

Our presenters discuss:

• Business & Opportunity Practices
• Where to Find the Necessary Data
• Process Tips
• Best Practices for Opportunity and Historical Award Searches
• & More

 

The biggest question from our audience centered on the best places to find reliable information on award searches, announcements, and contract details.
The recommended websites from our panelists are:

Federal Procurement Data System: https://www.fpds.gov/
Contract Data Reports from https://beta.sam.gov/
FedBid: http://www.fedbid.com/ or https://www.unisonglobal.com/
USA Spending: https://www.usaspending.gov/

Our next digital event in this series is slated for Tuesday, February 23rd and we encourage you to keep an eye on your email for more details to come.

Please direct any questions to BOOST or Contraqer for discussion or clarification!

Branding for Your Business 

📣 Attention all businesses with a website (you should have one), this message is for you. 📣 

Branding is more than a set of colors and a logo. Today, branding refers to how your business stands and speaks when you are not personally doing the talking. It refers to your content, your audience, the platforms you choose to be active on, and how often you interact with your digital community.  

We’re going to take a direct approach and provide you with an actionable checklist of items to update, create, or utilize as you configure your business’ brand going forward. 
Take a moment to answer the following questions.  

Branding:  

 Do you have a cohesive brand voice?
 Does your voice online resonate with your leadership and employees?
 Do you know your ideal audience/avatar?
 Do you know how your audience wants to receive information?
 Are you incorporating your company culture into your brand’s voice? 

Website:  

 Is it updated to 2020?
 Does it have your correct phone number?
 Is there an active “contact us” page?
 Do you have a page for news/blogs?
 Does it showcase your leadership?
 Are your capabilities clearly conveyed?
 Is it easy to navigate? 
 Does it load quickly?
– Do the links work? (Yes, ALL of the links.)
– Are your social profiles linked? 

Social Platforms: 

 Do they link back to your website? (Activate Your Buttons.)
 Are you speaking actively to your community?
 Is your contact information visible?
 Is your leadership following the pages?
 Are you updating them consistently (see our blog on consistent content here) 

 

In the world of marketing, statistics say that new clients and customers will take time to visit your website, social profiles, and more before reaching out to talk to you. Put your best digital foot forward before getting on the phone or connecting through an email. If you answered no, or have several question marks next to the items above we recommend seeking a branding update, stat. The experts at BOOST are able to provide you with a digital diagnostic to identify areas of strength and recommendations for improvementWe know these tasks have been on your to-do list for a while now, let’s dust them off and get them taken care of before the start of the new federal fiscal year.  

Creating Value in Growing Government Contractors

Every business owner dreams of building a Company so that they may reap the rewards sometime in the future.  However for many entrepreneurs, these dreams never materialize, falling short of building value within their organization,  Do you understand the true value drivers that make a difference in creating value inside of your business?  How does one create value that is sustainable and where do most companies fall short?

Join our panelists as they explore:

  • What are the value drivers in the current market conditions;
  • Why having the end goal in mind and planning are crucial for managing your business decisions;
  • What are the common pitfalls that can catch a business owner by surprise that can prevent value creation;
  • What are the most fundamental focuses for a business owner as they grow their business to create value.

Protest Basics: Pre-Award, Post-Award & Case Examples

Join BOOST’s Director of Contracts, Robin Desmore and Maria Panichelli of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP for the first of a two-part virtual series on the Protest Basics: Pre-Award, Post-Award, and the Process.

Our presenters will discuss:

• The Bid Protest Process
• The Types of Protests
• What Issues ARE Protestable
• Protest Scenarios
• and the Answers to Audience Questions

 

Protest Basics: Pre-Award, Post-Award, and the Process

Recently BOOST’s Director of Contracts Robin Desmore and Maria Panichelli, Partner and the Chair of the Government Contracting department at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP discussed the first of a two-part virtual series on the Protest Basics: Pre-Award, Post-Award, and the Process.

You can view the replay of the event here.

Here are some of the notable pieces from the discussion:

What are the Different Types of Protests: 

• Solicitation

• Contractors Submit Responses to Solicitation

• Evaluation of Contractors/Source Selection

• Awardees Chosen

What are the Common Protest Deadlines: 

• Pre-award Protests Based on Errors in the Solicitation need to be submitted before the response deadline.

• General (GAO) Rule: 10 days after the basis of the protest is known (or should have been known)

What are Some Protestable Issues: 

• Pre-award protests based on errors in the Solicitation:
• Ambiguous or contradictory terms
• Inclusion of prohibited terms/exclusion of required terms
• Unduly or overly restrictive terms or specifications
• Improper use of LPTA
• OCI Issues
• Set-aside/“rule of two”/Kingdomware issues
• De Facto responsibility determination
• Pre-Award Competitive Range/Post-Award Protests:

• Common Non-Price Evaluation Factor Issues

• Unstated evaluation criteria or subfactor, etc.
• Error in applying evaluation criteria/assigning ratings
• Unequal or disparate treatment of offerors
• Meaningful/misleading/uneven discussions
• OCI Issues

• Common Price Evaluation Issues

• Price Reasonableness
• Price Realism
• Escalation, Adjustment
• Balanced Pricing
• HUBZone Preference

UPDATE: On November 17th, 2020 BOOST Hosted Part 2 of this series: Where OCIs Meet Protests.
Our presenters discussed:
• Award Protests
• OCI Considerations
• Protest Scenarios
• and the Answers to Your Questions

Please visit this link to gain access to the replay.

Whack a Mole Leadership

Perhaps it’s the chaos of 2020 or maybe we all are trying to multi-task more than ever, but I’ve seen an uptick in what I would describe as “whack-a-mole” leadership.  You know, where one week there is a push to go in one direction.  The next week, that initiative changes or falls off the radar, and we focus on another thing.  The “Squirrel!” type of attention span that your dog has.  Or your 5-year-old.

By constantly shifting focus and redirecting the team, you see the following:

  • Lack of buy in – if its changing next week, just hunker down, agree and ride it out until people stop asking about it
  • Worse…buy-in – Only to find that it’s not really a thing and then expectations and hopes are dashed. This can lead your team to NOT buy in on something really good the next time. Don’t be the boss who cries wolf too many times.
  • Burn out – If you keep moving the ball, people get exhausted trying to get to the goal.  Let’s face it, we’re all exhausted this year anyway. This isn’t to say that if you meet your previously set goals that you shouldn’t keep moving. Just don’t pick up the finish line before the team has a chance to get there.
  • Lack of results – Everything is half done/half-implemented/half thought through.  Nothing is completed and nothing is moving, which means no one is making money.
  • Higher multiplier – Generally, this means lots of time on Overhead or G&A, driving your wrap rate up while not getting the results or efficiencies that you were probably striving for.

2020 continues to be a hell of a year.  It does require changing quickly, figuring out what works and dumping what doesn’t efficiently.  That doesn’t mean that you can reverse course on absolutely everything. Foundations need to remain intact and stronger than ever. It’s hard to see what the next month brings, much less next year.  But while you do have to stay agile, you also need to be thinking longer term as we start edging closer to 2021 and budgeting/goal setting for next year. If you’re looking for a push in the right direction, connect with Stephanie and let’s see where you can shift focus toward a more efficient direction.

 

The word of the quarter is: FOCUS!

No Meeting Wednesday

We recently implemented “No Meeting Wednesday” here at BOOST after piloting the program with our leadership.  First note: we HIGHLY recommend it.

Here are some thoughts/considerations on the experience.

What was the Driving Force?

I don’t know about you, but we are spending ENDLESS hours on Zoom or Teams going from meeting to meeting to meeting, call to call.  Now that we are all WFH, we are quick to get on calls.  Our schedules are no longer booked weeks in advance.  Every Monday, I personally start the week thinking its going to be a light week meeting wise.  Then by Tuesday midday, the entire week was booked.  This left no time to actually DO any work.  Or Think.  Or shake off our strategic plan for the year (uh, 2020…planning is now month to month).  I felt like all we did was spend time on meetings and that nothing felt like it was getting accomplished.  Our directors felt the same way.  2020 has turned into endless day after day of the same thing.

Our Pilot Program

After reading about No Meeting Wednesday being successful in a few large companies, I asked our Directors to try it for about 5-6 weeks.  Immediate feedback ranged from “Heck Ya, this is what I need” to “Well, what about X meeting or Y meeting and my schedule is already booked on Wednesdays”.  The skeptics took a few weeks to get on board, but by the end of our pilot, we all had done a decent job of blocking our calendars for Wednesdays.  We had 100% agreement that it worked and was something we wanted to implement throughout the entire business.

Implementation

While it’s still new to the entire organization (we just started in earnest this July), so far the feedback has been positive.  We try to post a reminder each Wed morning on our Teams page just to reinforce the message.  We have also blocked our schedules on our Outlook/Shared calendars.

Our New Reality

We still have calls on Wednesdays.  We still have meetings.  But they are meetings and calls that we individually choose to have on Wednesday.  Internally, we know that it better be important if you are going to interrupt our flow.  I personally go heads down on projects such as the corporate budget, the marketing plan, planning sessions, and even brainstorming sessions.   It has become the most valued day of the week as we can each focus on what we think our highest priorities are.  I’ve pushed myself to not just work on tactical stuff (that can wait for another day) but really focus on the thinking.  To have a higher-level perspective.  To see the forest for the trees.

While this is still very much a new thing for us, I think our company will see major benefits in many areas – productivity, creativity and FOCUS.  If only for one day a week.

Our challenge to you is as follows:

  • Choose one day per week (the SAME day each week) over the next 6-8 weeks that you consider business-sacred and demo it with your core group.
  • Set Clear Expectations in advance. No full group meetings, no non-essential client calls.
    • Reevaluate which meetings could, really, be emails and which ones need to be taken virtual face-to-virtual face.
  • Set a productivity goal to measure success.
  • Direct your leadership (and yourself) to go all-in on the experiment

 

One step further is that we want to hear from you regarding your thoughts at the end of the quarter. What worked for you? What did you change? How did it change your business? But remember, don’t call us about is on a Wednesday.

 

Government 4th Quarter… Who the Heck Knows?

‘Tis the quarter of last-minute proposals, mad scrambles for key personnel, task order bidding, and trying to keep everything straight between whose team you are on and for what.  Add that to trying to manage multiple folks on vacation and everyone suffering from a bit of summer head (i.e. we’d rather be at the beach mentality).  Oh, and COVID… can’t forget work-from-home-forever, COVID.

It’s a time when some folks lose all strategic perspective and go whole-hog into the throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what hits strategy.  What is the difference between 5 proposals or 6 they think?

But….2020.  Need we say more?  Our response to practically everything these days is…2020.
Keeping all of that in mind, what does this government 4th quarter actually look like?

We’re hearing mixed results.  Some folks seem to be business as usual (which means crazy).  Our pricers are busy as are the proposal peeps.  There are a significant number of folks going after 8a STARS right now too.  But some folks are reporting that things seem quiet….eerily quiet.

For those on the quiet side, the question becomes, is there a true lack of opportunities?
Potentially, and here’s why:

  • Everyone is still focused on COVID related acquisitions
  • Money was spent on other priorities (IT infrastructure and/or pandemic related)
  • Acquisition process is slower these days due to remote work
  • Less intel opportunities since everyone is running at 50%
  • Less opportunities that are not on the large GWACs/IDIQ vehicles
  • Category management has effectively become the have and have nots, squeezing small business
  • Lack of access to government officials – everyone’s home, wandering around for snacks, not wandering the halls for business

Whatever the case may be, what’s important is that business owners and business development folks keep on top of the rumors, what they are seeing in their business and talk to their frenemies about their experiences.  Don’t be complacent that what you are seeing or experiencing is the same everywhere in GovCon.  Don’t fall into the trap or get lulled into a significant pause on your growth strategy or BD goals.

Not only do we spout great advice, we take it too. In our conversations with partners and frenemies, we’re continuously gathering new data on trends and gut feelings. Luckily for you, we don’t keep it all under wraps. BOOST is sponsoring the upcoming govmates Institute with Wolf Den & Associates titled, Virtual First: Business Development in a Post-COVID World. This event is free to govmates members. Check out the institute page and apply for a seat at the virtual institute ASAP.

What are you seeing in your line? Head over to our LinkedIn Page and join the conversation about current industry trends and where businesses are going from here.

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!)

Is Running a VAR Keeping You Up at Night?

Two parts of running a successful business in GovCon are knowledge and compliance. You need to know your requirements and how to follow those directives. Add to that the complexities of running a VAR/reseller and we’d bet that there are several things keeping you up at night – in addition to booking sales that is.

Below are some important compliance items that you should keep in mind.  Maybe they will even help you sleep better at night (probably not, but we’re trying!).

  1. Service Contract Act complianceThis is especially important for those offering ancillary services in support of the products (think maintenance, warranty or help desk). Many of the VAR/reseller-type services are potentially covered by a Wage Determination.  Most VARs do not provide the services themselves, but rather, the OEM.  Add this to the fact that most services are buried in the product line item, it can be challenging to determine whether or not the SCA even applies to your PO. As such, a certain level of “due diligence” needs to be conducted to ensure compliance. The last thing anyone wants is the DOL knocking on your door with an audit request.
  2. NMRThe infamous Non-Manufacturer Rule (NMR) is a thorn in any VAR’s side when it comes to GovCon and IT. The NMR is an exception to the SBA performance requirements and limitations on subcontracting (LOS), which provide that on a supply contract, a firm must perform at least 50% of the cost of manufacturing the supplies. FAR 52.219-14.  There are some large vehicles, such as the NASA SEWP, that contain the LOS. Practice tip – if you are selling big IT equipment, ask your CO to remove the clause from the solicitation.
  3. Efficient “vendor” managementAlongside the heavy traffic of deals streaming in and out of a VAR, it’s hard to imagine tracking, managing, inspecting, and reporting all of your vendors. Compliance requirements for counterfeit parts, data breach safeguarding, and flow downs seem like an impossible mountain to summit. Let us shine a light in the darkness here for you: BOOST can provide a framework and strategy to best manage these pieces while saving you sanity and time.

Even if you’re sleeping at night like a bear in winter, these can still cause quite the headache.  Our mission at BOOST is to alleviate your headaches by helping you with the stuff you don’t have the time, the interest, or the man-or-woman-power to handle.  Focusing only on GovCon, allows BOOST to make your life easier and more efficient.  Let us help you cross another task off your list, email [email protected] and let’s discuss the possibilities.