Posts

Proposal Hell

As we wind down the major proposal season in GovCon, it is time to take a step back and reflect on our current process.  Did it work?  Do you feel like it was as well executed as it should be?  Did you have a plan for what you bid on and did it align with your strategy for your company?  Did you go after ‘just anything or everything’ to see what stuck on the wall?

As organizations mature, their proposal strategy evolves.  Let’s face it, in the beginning, we’re just happy to be invited to the dance, even as a sub.  So, we’ll bid on blue birds; we’ll stretch our rates, our margins, our past performance and occasionally our credibility.  How many go/no-go meetings have you been in where the phase “loss-leader” or just enough for “past performance” are mentioned?  The theory being that you’ll grow the business organically, you’ll have a leg up on the competition for any additional scope/work, you’ll have a past performance that you can cite in other bids and the idea that it adds to the direct labor base.

Too many times, this “win” becomes the anchor of the organization.  All of management’s time is spent on the contract, which turns into a dog that no one wants to work.  No raises are accounted for, the indirect rates won’t allow any extra costs, recruiting and retention become a nightmare.  Generally, it takes just one of these contracts to learn the hard lesson on being strategic in what you pursue.

Organizations eventually evolve into work that fits more in their niche.  The struggle then is that they become very comfortable with their current clients and niche.  Then more questions arise. Do you continue to push your organization to go after new clients and additional skill sets?  Do you suffer from incumbent-itis?  How do you motivate your team to approach the re-compete with the same vigor as new work, when quite frankly, all we want to do is dust off the old bid and update it?

In summary, everyone is essentially in proposal hell, no matter where you are in the lifecycle.  The important piece is realizing it, addressing the issues and turning them into an advantage over your competition.  What can you do to be better or to be heard in a crowded field?

If you’re seeking proposal assistance or back-office support visit BOOST LLC or send an email to Stephanie Alexander at [email protected]

Goals

New year, new you?  Yup, been there, done that.  How many GovCon business owners start with the best of intentions for the new year?  Any of these sound familiar?

  • This is the year I’m going to break $XM in revenue!
  • This is the year we’re going to follow a formal BD process.  No more bluebird bids!
  • This is the year we’re going after (huge IDIQ).  We’ll have our team solidified 30 days before the bid.
  • This is the year we’re going to invest in our employees.  We’ll do brown bag sessions and offer training courses.
  • This is the year we’re going to have and follow a strategic plan.  We’ll review it quarterly and assess our progress.

I’d venture to say every CEO in this industry has thought at least one of the above in the past week, with the best of intent.  Before this becomes another boring blog on goals and how to attain them, let’s stop and get real.   One of my mantras is that small business owners don’t have time or money to waste.  I know I don’t.  Achieving all of these goals this year would be great.  But in a world of tactical day to day operations, it’s hard to come out from the emails, status meetings, business development, and management of our people.  Let’s face it, running a company is not for the lazy!

So let’s focus on one goal.  One little goal.

Here it is – one goal every business owner should make (and actually do) is to THINK.  This sounds so simple.  I know.  But when was the last time you actually made time in your schedule to think about your company and its future?  When did you last turn off your phone/email/life and spend some time with your thoughts and plans?  Do you remember why you got into your field?  What your end game is?  Are you moving toward your goals?

As owner/CEO it’s on you to have a direction and focus toward which your company is moving.  How can you provide leadership and oversight if you don’t know yourself?

Imagine what a few hours a week or even a couple days a month would do for your company if you took a step back and actually spent time thinking.  You’d know where you were on your goals.  You’d have time to think about the future, competitive landscape, trends, growth potential.  You would also feel like you had a better grasp on the company’s direction.  With a roadmap in front of you, you can spend the other time leading and executing effectively.  Who knows, you may even finally get to those training sessions.

Business owners spend too much time focusing on portions of their to-do lists that can be delegated to others. Every CEO wants to be an expert on all things, but let’s face it, sometimes we need a bit of guidance. Luckily some of us seek to assist leaders in creating plans and moving forward to reach their goals. In fact, if you have questions, I’m happy to offer support.

Need help building your corporate strategy in the federal GovCon space?  Feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected]