Easy Mistakes to Make for Entrepreneurs: Not Scaling Properly

Too many entrepreneurs confuse “needs” with “wants”.  They think they need fancy offices with expensive furniture in the lobby, fully-stocked kitchens with the best products, or decked out company cars and other status symbols. Don’t be like them. As an entrepreneur, it can be tempting to buy 5,000 shirts with your logo right away. Don’t do it. Focus on what’s important, and scale along the way. You don’t need to be Facebook, Apple, or Google in the first year. Take time to develop what matters.

, Small Biz Trends

Tactical Negotiation Techniques

An interesting post at NYT Who’s the Boss? blog highlighted a negotiation technique that AGi found interesting for cutting to the core of a negotiation:

The idea is simple: When counter parties express grief over a perceived shortcoming of yours, ask point-blank whether the issue will make it impossible to work out a deal.

Strip-lining calls their bluff by providing them with an opportunity to kill the conversation right then and there. Often, the prospect will concede that this is not a make-or-break issue, allowing the concern to be dropped and the conversation to move forward. If the issue is make-or-break, it clarifies their priorities and allows you to decide if you want to seek a solution or move on.

A commenter expresses a similar technique has been helpful for them:

I work in advertising at an agency and have used a similar tactic many times with clients. If I’m pitching creative, which means showing a client mock ups of potential ads we’ve made, and I’m really getting beat up, I’ll offer to kill the whole ad right there and go back to the drawing board. Almost every time the client will resist and switch their position to arguing for the ad rather than trashing it. At this point we can usually agree on a couple small tweaks and then get it approved. I never thought of this as strip lining but it is quite similar.

Clearly not of use or even appropriate in every scenario, but perhaps helpful when communications appear to have stalled.

4 #GovCon Tips

Aside

A recent human interest story with the Orange County Register caught our interest here at AGi.  The piece profiles the architecture firm Development One and its CEO, J. Bruce Camino.

Describe Camino’s rise from fledgling contractor to a successful principle, the piece also contained four helpful tips that would be of use for anyone considering becoming a government contractor:

  1. Connect through the SBA, utilize their resources.
  2. Be prepared to navigate the red tape.
  3. Be patient.
  4. Distinguish yourself.

Read the full story at ArcaMax.

Conference Spotlight: VETS

The mission of the National Veteran Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) is to transition Veterans into business owners. The goal of VETS2014 is to build capacity in the Veteran and Service-disabled Veteran-owned small business community to help the Federal government and large business prime contractors meet and exceed the mandated goals.  The NVSBC is pleased to again join forces with AetherQuest Solutions, a Veteran-owned small business, to host VETS2014 in Reno, Nevada, June 16-19, 2014.

For more information, visit their website.

Contract Award Notice Analysis

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Companies have protested more Army contract awards in the last 18 months than any other Defense Department agency’s awards, and the Veterans Affairs Department tops the list as the most protested non-Defense agency….

“…according to an analysis by the open data supporters at GovTribe.”  Interesting discussion of contract award notices over at Next Gov.

A graphic depicting the discrenpancies:

Contracting Mistakes to Learn From

Two small businesses learned the hard way that requests for proposals should be read carefully.  From GovCon:

…[T]wo separate offerors protest an award by the Department of the Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, for construction services in Guam. … The solicitation required offerors to propose two qualified site safety/health officers, one for each of the work sites required the solicitation. Both protesters only proposed one safety/health officer, and thus their proposals were each assessed a significant weakness by the Navy.

GovCon’s advice on this point is sound:  “It is essential that contractors make sure their proposals are written in a clear manner so that it is apparent to the government that all solicitation requirements will be met. Don’t require the agency to assume anything.”

Head over to the full report for more information on the decision.

The Unexpected Perils of Big Data

Another great post from Stefan Töpfer, this time on concerns related to “data fragmentation,” a process that has accompanied many of us in the move to take advantage of the benefits of big data and cloud-based software .  His first reason, the double entry of data, is one that is easy to overlook when you’ve moved only part of your data to a new system, but still must rely on an older or more compliant system as well.  Head over to the full post to see the other four concerns he has.  IT Business Edge has some great statistics on data fragmentation that you may find useful if attempting to tackle it in your own business.

Quoted on Elevator Pitches: Stefan Töpfer

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Don’t bore people with unnecessary details about your business. They don’t need to know that you were the first to bring a product to the market or that you borrowed money from your parents to get started – just boil it down to what your product or service can do to improve the life of the person you are talking to at that moment.

Stefan Töpfer gives good advice on successfully pitching your business.  Our favorite is above, but head over for the other four.

Small Biz Trends has given us the heads up for the upcoming National Small Business Week.  Head over for the list of this year’s winners.  Basic information on the event:

The U.S. Small Business Administration has chosen winners for the 2014 “Small Business Person of the Year” in the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam… Every year the SBA chooses its Small Business Person of the Year in each state and territory.  The awards recognize business owners and key executives in small businesses for their outstanding achievements and successes in their businesses and also their contributions to the nation… This year’s winners will be honored in Washington during National Small Business Week, on May 15-16, 2014.  A national-level Small Business Person of the Year winner will also be announced at that time.

Getting a Foot in the Door

Responding to RFPs can be a foot in the door. If you don’t have a personal connection or referral to an organization, responding to its RFPs can help you convince your target customer of your business’s value. Yes, you’re likely to face some competition, but if you know that your prices are competitive, bidding on projects is likely to help create opportunities

Kathryn Hawkins at the Intuit blog writes about a number of pros and cons regarding RFPs.  But consider her cons simply as advice on the best way to approach RFPs and you’l be better served.  Great advice, head over and read the rest.