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Pivoting Is A Process

Posted By Julie Rothhouse, Founder SynaVoice SOL; WIPP Board of Directors , Monday, June 8, 2020

When the character Ross from the TV show "Friends," screams to “Pivot, Pivot, Pivot," it is funny because the visual makes it clear that no amount of pivoting is going to get the couch up the stairs. When businesses pivot, they are hoping for a different outcome. For SynaVoice, the catalyst for our business pivot was the crisis caused by COVID-19. With a desire to help in some way, business as usual was not an option for us.

 

SynaVoice SOL

Although it happened at warp speed, there was a process we followed to launch SynaVoice SOL. SynaVoice SOL (Summer OnLine) is a pop-up camp developed to provide high school students with a stimulating summer experience they can enjoy from their own homes, because quarantine. Each one-week session focuses on a specific area of interest or topic that will engage high school students and expand their horizons. The daily sessions end at noon each day, because summer!


Step 1: Narrow the Funnel


In order to add the most value, we first had to identify an industry and audience to target. We identified three broad areas where we thought we could make a difference: housing, healthcare, and education. We held a series of networking conversations with business owners and subject matter experts to brainstorm ideas where we could leverage our expertise in communications and training to provide solutions. After the conversations we used a process of elimination to narrow our focus to education and specifically, creating imaginative online educational content.


In the broad category of education, we focused on 8th-11th graders. Teenagers in these grades are tech savvy, spend a lot of time online, need engaging activities, and were not getting the attention that the graduating seniors understandably received. Importantly, we felt we understood this cohort as several team members have teenage children.


Step 2: Fill the Gap


Once we had the industry and target defined, we again held brainstorming sessions with a broad group of business leaders and experts in online content, remote teaching, and high school curriculum development. Through our discussions we identified an emerging gap. Traditionally, kids in this age group went to camp, got a job, traveled with family, or hung out at home during the summer. In an attempt to control the rapidly spreading virus many programs and plans were cancelled - with the exception of hanging out at home. SynaVoice SOL, a virtual summer camp, was created to fill the gap caused by the COVID-related cancellations. 


Each one-week camp session features a unique topic presented by a nationally-known expert. Our goal is to provide exposure to new ideas, concepts, and skills for high school students to inform their eventual college, career, and life choices. Without time to do formal research, we informally tested the idea with parents, educators, and students and honed the concept based on their feedback. 

 

Watch a preview of SynaVoice SOL Graphic Narratives Camp

 

After the initial cancellations of the summer programs, many camps and programs retooled and provided online options. We were keen to differentiate ourselves from the rapidly expanding online offerings which, for the most part, were translating in-person content to online delivery. We knew we needed to provide topics and presenters that would engage the campers and capture their imagination, staying true to our mission to create innovative, educational content. All of our sessions provide a unique take on a fun and interesting topic, like our True Crime session which keys off the passion that some kids have for true crime stories and tv shows. We engaged Dr. James Diamond, a professor and criminal lawyer, to provide a taste of criminal law and highlight some of the cases he worked on. 


Step 3: Launch the Program


In rapid succession we developed a logo, began recruiting counselors, finalized the session offerings, built a commercial website, announced the launch, and purchased social media advertising. SynaVoice SOL was lucky in that many friends and partners embraced the vision and supported us by bartering in-kind services for sponsorships and the opportunity to participate. This was extremely helpful in keeping start-up costs down.


Step 4: Continue the Pivot


We are passionate about our mission to provide innovative content for 8th-11th graders. Our journey is not complete as we still need to sign up campers and provide flawless execution of the camp sessions on the Zoom platform. I am confident that with the help of our partners and presenters we will deliver an extraordinary experience to the campers who enroll in SynaVoice SOL this summer. But, the pivot is not complete, because we will need to shift again for the school year in September.

 

Learn more about Julie's pivot during our

Monday, June 29

Position, Pivot, Profit webinar.

Register online today

 


Julie RothhouseJulie Rothhouse is CEO of SynaVoice LLC and Founder of SynaVoice SOL. She has been a WIPP member since 2015 and sits on the WIPP Board of Directors. Read more about Julie’s business at www.synavoicesol.com.

 

Each Monday, WIPP aims to feature a guest blog post from a member on tips and tools for business success. To submit a blog post, please email membership@wipp.org.

Tags:  guest post  membership 

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Your Certification Is a License to Hunt

Posted By Nancy Aber Goshow, Founding WIPP Member, Monday, May 18, 2020


As someone who has been in business for more than 40 years, I tell all business owners who become certified, especially as a WOSB, EDWOSB, and/or DBE to develop a sound marketing strategy to leverage their certification.

Nancy Aber Goshow

 

One of the best strategies is summarized with a five-letter acronym: DFRPC

  • D - Differentiate: Identify strengths that differentiate your firm from all other women-owned businesses;
  • F - Focus your efforts on promoting those strengths;
  • R - Relationships: Build relationships with your target agencies that seek your strengths;
  • P - Past Performance: Build a robust portfolio of exceptional past performance and references; and 
  • C - Know your Customer: Research each target agency.
  • Research each target agency by answering these questions: Who, What, How, When, Where, and Why?
    • Who buys the services you perform?
    • How do they procure those services?
    • When do they procure those services?
    • Where are those services delivered?
    • How are you prepared to deliver those services?
    • Why would they buy those services from you?

Finally, adhere to the “Rule of Three” to build relationships with your target agencies:

  • Develop a three-year hunting marketing strategy;
  • Select three federal agencies to target;
  • Go to each target agency’s industry day and events where those three agencies present their opportunities;
  • Get their cards, don’t push your cards;
  • Find out the best way to follow-up with each contact;
  • Follow up every three weeks for three years as long as it takes to be known by those agencies; and
  • Show up, show up, show up over three years and on into the future.
Keep in mind during this process that federal government procurement is a long-term effort, it took me five years to get my first opportunity to compete and seven years before I won a federal contract.


About the Author:
Nancy Aber Goshow leads Goshow Architects and is a Founding WIPP Member. Read more about Nancy’s business and her commitment to WIPP in the May 2020 Member Spotlight
 
Each Monday, WIPP aims to feature a guest blog post from a member on tips and tools for business success. To submit a blog post, email the WIPP ACE HelpDesk at membership@wipp.org

 

 

Tags:  guest post  membership 

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The Ugly Truth About the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)

Posted By Angela Dingle, President & CEO, Ex Nihilo; WIPP Board of Directors, Chair, Monday, January 27, 2020

WIPP was one of the first small business organizations to raise the red flag on the compliance standards lying in wait for not only Defense Department prime contractors, but also the thousands of subcontractors in the industrial base, as the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) began to roll out at its various agencies. 
Angela Dingle
The intent of the CMMC is to combine various cybersecurity control standards such as National Institute of Standards and Technology Special Publication 800-171, NIST SP 800-53, ISO 27001, ISO 27032, AIA NAS9933 and others into one unified standard for cybersecurity. Much like the Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI), the CMMC is designed to measure the maturity of a company’s institutionalization of cybersecurity practices and processes. It will consist of five levels. 
 
All DOD contractors will be required to achieve a Level 1 certification, as reported in Bloomberg Government. Contractors that handle sensitive information up to classified data will be required to achieve a Level 5 certification. In the future, contractors that lack the desired CMMC level will become ineligible to compete for certain contracts and task orders.
 
Join us next month on February 18 for our first WIPP Member Webinar of the year, “The Ugly Truth About CMMC,” which will be a deeper dive into how CMMC will affect your business in the future, strategies for compliance, and how to manage the cost of implementation.

 

Tuesday, February 18 
2 PM ET / 1 PM ET / 11 AM PT
Register Today

 

Free to WIPP Members / $25 for Non-Members

 



This is a guest blog post from Ex Nihilo, a WIPP Member business. 
Ex Nihilio
Since 2002, Ex Nihilo has been a trusted advisor in the public and private sector, providing objective IT governance, risk management, and compliance services based on a thorough understanding of customer requirements and deep systems integration experience.

Tags:  cybersecurity  guest post  regulatory 

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Is it Possible to Grow a Federal Contracting Business in Tumultuous Times?

Posted By Gloria Larkin, President & CEO, TargetGov, Friday, November 15, 2019
Updated: Thursday, November 14, 2019

The federal government marketplace is facing a dramatic shift driven both by the maturity of the market and a new administration.

Most government contracting businesses are started by individuals with an area of expertise (engineering, IT services, construction, public relations, accounting, etc.), or a passion (serve the warfighter, make the world a better place, inform the public, save the environment, etc.). Armed with some validation that there is a market for these skills and knowledge, perhaps by working for another government contractor or as a government employee, they strike out to establish or grow their own businesses.

The effort to start or grow a government contracting business of any kind is overwhelming in a steady marketplace. Legal structure/filings, accounting compliance, capital funding, facilities, and hiring staff are the just the beginning. When a firm tackles the business of federal contracting there are the additional steps of registrations and socio-economic set-aside status requires even more paperwork and time.

The critical next step is the hunt for actual solid business opportunities. Which agencies are buying what the business sells? Who are those agencies currently buying from? Through which contract vehicles? At what price? How does a business distinguish itself? How does one identify and reach decision makers? Businesses that have won at least one federal contract have successfully answered most of these questions and defied the odds. In most cases, it was the founders who blazed this trail and won the initial contracts – and then performed the work to fulfill those contracts.

But today even well-established government contractors are challenged by uncertain budgets, changing agency missions, and fluid priorities.

This is the time in the lifecycle of a government contracting business when the owners must make a decision. How can the business grow beyond the individual contributions and reach of the founders? How does one adapt to this changing marketplace and win more contracts? The next usual step is to hire additional business development capacity and expertise.

 


The traditional approach has been to hire a seasoned federal business development professional, which is now fraught with risk and expense especially if that individual is expected to step into the shoes of one of the founders or key business line managers.

That manager or founder may struggle with defining business development expectations clearly, delegating authority or exhibiting the patience to allow sales and business development staff to learn, grow, develop relationships and produce results.

The federal procurement marketplace is also changing. According to Government Executive, 43% of federal contracting officers will retire between 2014 and 2018. With those retirements go long term relationships that have benefitted incumbent contractors. This is bad news for the incumbents but good news for other contractors.

The Office of Management and Budget also now requires more outreach by federal agencies to the vendor community prior to the issuance of solicitations. These outreach activities include industry days, small business conferences, sources sought notices and Request for Information. Federal procurement has become very event driven.

Relationships are still very important and they are formed by participating in the events sponsored by the agencies. They are throwing a party (figuratively speaking) and expect well-informed vendors to show up. And, the combination of rapidly growing retirements of government personnel and the recent hiring freeze enacted by the new administration severely limits opportunities for federal contractors to have one on one time with decision makers.

For those companies responding to these market changes and positioning to grow, smart government contractors are creating highly disciplined business development “engines” that leverage adaptive industry best practices and the knowledge and skills of the owners and subject matter experts. They then bring in additional outside resources to expand capacity.

 

Need to know more?

WIPP Members can access Gloria's WIPP Education Platform webinar:

Building Infrastructure to Manage Your Federal Contracts


This business development engine consists of a structured approach to gathering market intelligence on agencies, contract vehicles, opportunities and competition, executing action items related to the analysis of that data, following rules for determining whether to bid, choosing smartly when and how to team with others, and following a disciplined marketing outreach program.

If designed properly, this business development engine consists of a blend of technologies, processes and people with varying levels of business, marketing and analytical skills. This innovative structure has proven to produce incredible financial results – and is scalable and repeatable – freeing the owners or managers to take on more strategic initiatives.

Gone are the days of the lone business development professional circling the beltway, sitting in lobbies and depending upon their friends for referrals. This has been replaced by discipline, process, and results.

 

This post originally appeared on TargetGov. WIPP features guest blog posts from our members! Please reach out to the WIPP marketing department to be featured. 

 

Tags:  federal contracting  guest post  membership 

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