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Women in GovCon | Never Go Against the Family

This week govmates hosted their institute, Women in GovCon, Never Go Against the Family. Alongside expert speakers and one-of-a-kind networking, attendees had the opportunity to get real answers to the very real questions they’ve been asking about growth, teaming, exit strategy and profit maximization.

If you missed the institute, here are a few highlights.
Join govmates today and avoid the FOMO when it comes to the next govmates institute.

Panel 1: It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business (Growth)
Kim Pack of Wolf Den Associates, Jody Franklin of Global Services and Judy Bradt of Summit Insight

  • GSA Schedule: Have a smart vehicle portfolio.
  • WOSB Status, most businesses have a second or third classification that they leverage for business. It’s not all about the WOSB.
  • “Focus or go broke.” Do your research.
  • IDIQ: inquisitive growth strategies and new on-ramps are your options to get in with your capabilities.

Panel 2: Keep Your Friends Close, and Enemies Closer (Teaming)
Kathleen Kelley of Bean Kinney, Calvin Freeman of CACI and Amy Hernandez of BOOST LLC

  • Teaming Agreements set the stage for your relationships, but the subcontract agreement should be more specific in order for it to be enforceable.
  • Work-share with the big guys: know the Program Manager, they should be your main contact to express any work-share concerns.
  • If you’re a small business, know your skills and strengths. Know what you can specifically provide, know your worth.
  • It’s all about the RELATIONSHIP – If you lawyer up, then it’s not worth it.

Panel 3: I’m Gonna Make Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse (Exit Strategy & Profit Maximization)
Pete Ragone of SC&H, Greg Nossaman of the Mclean Group, Michael Lopes of Bernstein Wealth, Jennifer Mathis of One Degree Capital

  • There are options beyond “just selling.”
  • Build a business that can compete on its own without relying on a status or set aside.
  • Be focused on what YOU need to do. Don’t try to be all things for all people. Be mindful of your investments in the business (don’t over or underspend).
  • You can buy a CONTRACT or a COMPANY.
  • It’s never too early to set yourself up for the next steps based on a due diligence request list (HR, shareholder agreements, accounting, and others).
  • If you are looking to buy a company, don’t get so distracted that you forget about organic growth.
  • Regardless if you’re trying to buy, sell or whatever the next step is for your company, have your financials in order. Make decisions and preparations based on your goals and what you’re looking to achieve long term.

 

Thank you, one more time to the fantastic speakers, partners, and sponsors who help to make this event a success!

If you haven’t already, join govmates today!

Institute Recap

GovCon Lifecycle:
Purgatory to Paradise

The second govmates institute, GovCon Lifecycle: Purgatory to Paradise met at the Northrup Grumman location in McLean, VA. In an authentic meeting-of-the-minds, industry experts discussed topics pertinent to growing the local govcon footprint.

Highlights from the institute include:

Purgatory: That Awful Time Between Submission and Award

  • BAFO’s, How to respond to government requests, FAR compliance, “Gotcha’s”“Proposals are rarely won at submission, but they are lost. If you get an EN – correct, don’t defend.”
    Barry Landew – Wolf Den
    “To mechanically lower your price during ENs make sure you revisit trends to see where you can adjust.”
    Avantika Singh

30-60 Day Transition & Ramp-Up

  • Recruiting & Operations (Transition planning, Re-badging, Quality Planning, Customer interaction) –
    “Be sure to stay in touch with your key personnel and others that you bid after you submit your bid.  Fostering this relationship will cut down on your recruiting time.”
    Mary Holmes – BOOST
  • Contracts (Sub-K’s, Negotiations) –
    “Best advice that is not only the most obvious but the most overlooked – did you read the entire contract award and do you know what you are signed up for?  Make sure everyone on the team is aware.”
    Amanda Tyson – BOOST
  • Accounting (Accounting system set-up, Billing requirements, Types of contracts)
    “Make sure you get the labor category paperwork done up front because you could lose money if they don’t meet the qualifications.”
    Giacomo Apadula –  BDO

Opportunities in Loudoun County

  • “Insider baseball on AWS is coming to Northern Virginia. There is still a ways to go, there will be another downselect based on sites.”
    Steven Hargan – Loudoun Economic Development

Now That You’ve Won – How Do You Pay for It?

  • Have your contracts folks review the financing document.  It’s a contractual document – CEOs make sure you know what you’re getting into and completely understand the terms.“Be careful and read the fine print to make sure you’re actually getting the rate you think you’re getting from your financial providers.”
    Matt Stavish

Capture & Business Development for FY2019

  • Be strategic about your capture process – make sure it’s a rolling 36-month pipeline.
  • Focus on both getting onto some of the larger IDIQs (hello Oasis!  GSA Schedule 70!) and on agencies that award independently – who buys from you? 
  • Yes, there seems to be less direct sole sourcing opportunities and more competitively bid set-aside work for 8a’s.
    Kim Pack, Wolf Den

Join govmates to be updated on future opportunities for continuing education and targeted matchmaking! 

Continuing Education

By now, our college days are long behind us (let’s not talk about how many years). Some folks have sought continuing education in the form of a master’s degree, PhD, certifications, and other credentials. Some of these factor into our “employability” and can help move our careers.

Assuming you’ve gotten the credentials/certifications requested and additional schooling that you are going to do – now what? Where do you go to find more information about your industry and stay on top of trends? What resources are available for continuing your education on the tips and tricks that successful people in your industry employ?

There are countless webinars/seminars/conferences that you can attend for federal contracting; many are relatively low cost. But how many times have you listened to a speaker provide the very highest level of information with generalities and no details? How often have you heard the same message over and over (“get to know the customer, or shape the opportunity” sound familiar?)? Why is there a dearth of actionable advice that resonates with you and your company?

The same usual suspects are putting on the same educational series with the same speakers. There is a lack of transparency/real life, straightforward advice in the industry.

Why?

  • Is it because the speakers don’t know (if this is the case, why are they speaking?)
  • Their information is outdated (I’ve seen the same speech out of certain folks for YEARS)
  • They are afraid that you won’t seek their services for hire or will use their advice and not need them

What this industry needs is real, direct, transparent advice from people who have seen a lot of different things in the federal space and who aren’t afraid to share the information. Professionals that will tell you what they honestly think vs keeping it politically correct for fear of saying something controversial. Real business people who actually have solid opinions but are open to new ideas and ways (not stuck in the federal marketplace of the 2000’s).

The govmates Institute was launched with this in mind. We provide the real scoop on issues that are germane to your business. No bullshit, no pie-in-the-sky convoluted discussions without actionable ideas that you can implement immediately. Demand more out of speakers – you deserve it.

Our next govmates Institute will be on September 6th – From Purgatory to Paradise. It’s a half day dedicated to:

  • Purgatory – that awful time between proposal submission and award. What’s a GovCon to do (legally)? How to address questions, requests for redlines, and BAFOs. What can your Program Manager say (or not) to someone on source selection? What can you tell your employees?
  • 30 to 60 Day Transition – We all claim we’re ready on Day One. Yeah, right. There’s a lot that happens in that first few months and as the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. How to handle the hiring/recruiting of a new team, how to negotiate with the government, issue subcontracts to subs, get your accounting house in order, and tips for keeping the client as happy as possible, given the million balls in the air.
  • Now you’ve won – How do you pay for it? We all know we can use our banks and lines of credit. But what if you’ve maxed out your line of credit capacity? What if you don’t have enough operating history for the bankers to provide the line? What if you need upfront cash for Purchase Orders or advance hiring? We bring you some non-traditional methods to fund those first few months when you are incurring costs before actually getting paid.
  • FY19 Capture and BD Opps – great, you won. Now, what’s next? ‘Tis the season for 2019 strategic planning off-sites and budget prep. What are you going after next year and what do you need to track?

Register at: https://govmates.com/institute/

Island Life

The ubiquitous aspiration of many a small government contractor is the $100MN revenue mark followed by the sale of their business (no doubt at a lofty multiple) coupled with the purchase of a private tropical island complete with oceanside beverage service.  Much like an old wives’ tale, the reality in such assumptions is lacking but always makes for good fodder at a Tyson’s Corner M&A networking event.

But as you grow your government contracting business, being an island unto your own is exactly the opposite of what your strategy should be. We all covet the position of being the Prime Contractor; subcontractors are always at a disadvantage when it comes to workshare, profitability and customer relationships. However, isn’t having a piece of something better than always going it alone, with zero to show for it?

The government contracting industry is awash with stories of mistreatment by partners, workshare-greedy primes and small businesses who think they simply can do it all.  Most have been subjected to an unfortunate teaming experience that has negatively influenced their thinking, or have bought into the idea that their company is the federal contracting equivalent of Superman and can do anything. Let me be the first to tell you, it’s not. It’s hard to do everything in GovCon, even more so as a small business. Teaming with others will allow you to CREDIBLY expand your capabilities, utilize other’s strengths and provide a more robust solution to the government.

How you choose to find and vet a partner is critical. Are you relying on your business development lead’s Rolodex (and why do we still say Rolodex)? Going to the same group of folks for the same boilerplate response is not innovative, nor compelling. Try relying upon a formulaic and methodical approach for teaming by expanding beyond your network to find other likeminded companies with the past performance or capabilities that you need for a winning bid. govmates, an online teaming platform for growing GovCons, can help with this. Once a potential teammate is identified, really vet the company.  Having a similar bidding style, rate structure and overall corporate culture is critical and will help in execution.

No one likes to go it alone.  There is safety (and revenue) in numbers, especially in the small business federal contracting community.

Need help finding a teammate?  Send me a note at [email protected]