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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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WIPP Member Spotlight - Nancy Aber Goshow

Posted By Laura Berry, Friday, May 1, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Nancy Aber Goshow
Nancy Aber Goshow Partner
Goshow Architects
WIPP Member Since 2003

 

Join us for the May Community Connection webinar on May 20 at 2 PM ET to hear Nancy’s discussion with WIPP President & CEO Candace Waterman.

Mission and Vision:

 

Goshow Architects is one of the largest woman-owned architectural firms in New York City. We design healthy, sustainable energy efficient buildings and spaces for the public good and positive social impact for communities and individuals. Our mission is to create architecture that inspires people, collaboration, sustainability and innovation by building for the public good and designing for the future.

Goshow Architects has four specialty design teams: 
education, infrastructure, housing, and transportation. 

  • High schools, community colleges, universities;
  • Water supply and wastewater treatment facilities;
  • Market rate and supportive housing;
  • Ferry and rail terminals.

You are based in New York City. Tell us about how you’re handling the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. 

Right now, our education and housing projects are on temporary pause, 77% of our revenue sources are shut down, 60% of our active projects paused. 

Thankfully our infrastructure and transportation projects are increasing in number and moving forward. We are architectural design subconsultants to six large international engineering firms and two large transportation engineering firms, so these second-tier opportunities will keep us busy until our prime contract projects start up again. 

The US Postal Service has stopped delivering mail to our entire midtown Manhattan office building. As a business that depends on payment checks sent through the US mail, my once a week visit to the post office has become a nightmare. I can only go once a week, between 1 and 3 p.m. I stand in line with 40 others, for 45 minutes to request our office mail for the past 7 days, then I wait again for another 30 minutes while our mail is retrieved from a remote storage room in the building. The air conditioning is not on, so everyone is masked and sweating. The post office and my office is only a 3-mile round trip walk from my home. I walk to my office twice a week. Taking a taxi, a bus or the NYC subway is not an option I would consider.

Our design work has continued without interruption because we are very experienced and efficient working remotely. Our design work is produced by cloud-based collaborative software, and it’s more efficient for our clients. Having an office in New York City has forced us to develop remote working solutions to get us through prior events like Superstorm Sandy, extended snow days, and subway strikes. But those events only lasted a little more than a week.

Working remotely is not a challenge for our staff. It’s the duration of the New York City pause and the physical separation of our collaborative teams that is beginning to wear on all of us. We miss working with each other on a daily basis. We hold weekly All Company Team, (ACT) Meetings on Zoom. Seeing each other helps to fill the person-to-person interaction we miss most in our collaborative design process. We are also holding Zoom cocktail parties as another way to connect our staff.

 

Goshow Architects is celebrating 40 years of business. WIPP will be celebrating 20 years next May. What led you to join WIPP in 2003?

I met WIPP co-founders Barbara Kasoff and Dr. Terry Neese while we were trying to move the Women's Equity Contracting Act forward in the early 2000s. I am a successful WBE and DBE government contractor for New York State and New York City and joined WIPP to learn about how to qualify, find, and win federal government contracts as a woman-owned business. At that time, WOSB firms were winning less than 3% of the federal spend [of the 5% goal]. 

 

Can you tell us any stories about what it was like to be part of the founding membership at WIPP?


It was very exciting and thrilling to walk into congressional hearings to give relevant testimony and actively participate in federal policy hearings. It was even more exciting and thrilling to see legislative outcomes we initiated and language we contributed.


Early on, I testified to a Congressional committee on size standards for federal contracting, which at the time had not been changed since 1976. I went to Capitol Hill and the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) was against changing the standards because, of course, there were other firms that stood to profit from keeping the standards the same. We ended up moving the standards for architecture from 3.5 million to 7.5 million. 


I also love that WIPP is truly nonpartisan. In 2008, we sent WIPP delegations to the Democratic and Republican party conventions. I remember attending a convention with WIPP Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan as well as Barbara Kasoff and Mary Schnack, who have both since passed away. We were all watching the live broadcast of Chris Matthews. All of a sudden, there he was with a microphone in my face asking me what I thought about Sarah Palin. Thankfully, I had been taught by Mary how to do a PR interview pivot, and I answered that “At Women Impacting Public Policy Public we are nonpartisan. Anytime a woman is running for office, that’s a good thing.”

 

As a long-time WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network?


Working with other like-minded business owners in the ongoing fight for increased procurement opportunities for women-owned businesses. After 12 years of pushing the federal government to promulgate the rules for the WOSB/EDWOSB program in the SBA, we finally achieved our goal. I am a proponent of the program; however the EDWOSB designation has not helped me to win any contracts. We still have a long way to go to get our fair share of the federal spend. 

Through WIPP, I also learned all about how to receive an 8a designation. I won two 5-year IDIQ Contracts with the GSA and USACE as an 8a architecture firm. I ended up presenting for the ChallengeHER program, helping other women-owned businesses learn from our challenges.

 

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network?

Particularly for federal and state contractors, join at a WIPP level that offers you opportunities to join the Procurement Committee. Attend various industry day events at agencies and represent WIPP at those industry days.

As someone who has been in business as long as I have, I tell all businesses who become certified as a WOSB, EDWOSB, DBE to develop a sound marketing strategy to leverage their certification.


Any other advice for women-owned businesses in the current challenging climate?

This too shall pass. This is the worst we’ve been through, but in the 40 years we’ve had the firm, we’ve survived more than seven downturns. The bad part is we’re on the downturn. But the good part is that when the upturn kicks in, profitability will run ahead of expenses. Once expenses start to increase and catch up, profitability will be more difficult to maintain. So we all need to be ready to take the best advantage of the economic growth that will come after the pandemic is over.

 



Goshow Architects

Learn more about Nancy and her team at Goshow Architects at https://www.goshow.com.

 

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

 


Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Michelle Kantor

Posted By Laura Berry, Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2020
Michelle Kantor

 

Michelle Kantor

Member, McDonald Hopkins

 

WIPP Member Since 2013

 

 


What led you to join WIPP?

 

The majority of my clients over the past 30 years have been women-owned businesses. I have a passion to help them succeed and grow. WIPP is, by far, the premiere national advocate of women-owned businesses. I am a member of the board of directors of the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), a regional partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as well as general counsel to the Federation of Women Contractors in Chicago (FWC)WIPP has immensely helped both the WBDC and FWC with keeping apprised of federal laws and regulations that can impact women-owned businesses. 


As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network

 

Meeting awesome women business owners and playing a part in advocating for them through my association with WIPP. 


As a law firm, how does McDonald Hopkins help federal contractors?

 

McDonald Hopkins Federal Government Contracting and Procurement Group helps federal contractors in numerous ways. I lead the group and am thrilled that we have the expertise and capacity to handle our clients’ contracting and business needs. We frequently help clients with corporate transactions including buying and selling their companies, succession planning, Novations, federal bid protests, size protests and NAICs code protests, SBA 8(a), WOSB, SDVOSB, HUBZone, WBE, MBE certification and appeals, contract review and negotiation, FAR compliance assistance, business ethics and EEO policies, requests for equitable adjustment and claims, suspension and debarment proceedings, contract disputes, SBA Mentor-Protégé agreements, joint ventures and teaming agreements, CPAR appeals, and contract disputes.

 

 

What are some common hurdles you see for federal contractors in your work? 

Common hurdles I see for federal contractors are trying to stay ahead of competition, access to capital for small businesses, and understanding SBA and federal acquisition regulations and compliance.

 

 

This month you’ll be hosting a WIPP Education Platform webinar on succession planning. Why are you passionate about that topic?

 

I have represented countless large and small women-owned businesses and other small businesses throughout my legal career. I have watched them put their life blood into their business to grow and build a legacy for their families and employees. While these business owners are technical experts in their fields, few businesses really have the time or key knowledge to plan the succession. 

 

Many women-owned businesses then end up simply closing up or selling for less than market value because they did not have a good plan in place. Being able to help business owners to plan and provide them good legal and practical advice fulfills me.

  

 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

 

My biggest takeaway from WIPP is never give up. Women can and do make a huge difference in shaping the policies and future of our nation. Take advantage of the wonderful benefits of your WIPP membership. 


Is there anything else you wish readers would know about WIPP?

 

The members of WIPP are so fortunate to have such top-notch leadership with Candace Waterman and her outstanding professional and very knowledgeable staff.


 

McDonald Hopkins logo

Learn more about Michelle and her team at McDonald Hopkins at https://mcdonaldhopkins.com.

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Sue S. Tellier

Posted By Laura Berry, Monday, March 2, 2020
Sue Schweim Tellier 
President
JetCo Federal Supply
https://www.jetcofederal.com

Sue Tellier

What led you to join WIPP? 

I learned about WIPP through a random Google search. I was looking for a deep, clear understanding of the status of the federal WOSB program. I think I joined within five minutes of landing on the website. 

My first year, my involvement with the organization was very superficial. I read emails and clicked through to the website. When I renewed my membership, I realized how much value WIPP brought through webinars and a level of involvement I wasn’t maximizing. I applied to become part of the Leadership Advisory Council, and I quickly became a super-fan. 

As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network? 

This is a tough question to answer. I get actionable ideas or new knowledge from every WIPP webinar, so I really value the educational aspect. 

But I think the face-to-face interaction with WIPP members trumps this in terms of “favorites.” Talk about inspiring. I’ve met brilliant, creative women through WIPP – and they have been generous with ideas.
 

As a federal contractor, what do you gain from WIPP Membership?

One of WIPP’s Policy Priorities is “Create parity for WOSBs in federal contracting.” And these aren’t just words. This priority is achieved through the deliberate development and implementation of strategic tactics. In addition to making a difference in Washington, D.C., WIPP communicates their activities effectively to the membership, allowing us to become an educated extension for the talented Advocacy Team.

Advocacy is a marathon, not a sprint. WIPP earned their positive reputation for advocacy. It’s evident that decision-makers on the Hill respect WIPP’s opinions and ability to mobilize WOSB contractors. 

What is your proudest moment for JetCo Federal?

Watching my employees embrace our company wide values as a filter. This year, so many things clicked into place for our growing team. We went from 4 to 14 employees in one year, which can really devastate the culture of a small business. With great deliberation, our leadership team developed our “what, how, and why” statements into concise bullets of greatness. 

JetCo Federal supplies warehouses with consumables, and we solve shipping and logistics challenges. I get it – this does not sound glamorous. 

But every JetCo employee understands that every truckload requires a win. It HAS to be on time. We HAVE to re-win the client’s trust with every successful shipment. EVERY employee – from sales to operations to support – understands that to our client, it’s not just a box. It’s not just a label. It’s not just a pallet. Each one of these can shut down a line. I love seeing the intensity on the part of our employees in TRULY embracing this. 

I have other small things related to our growth too. I’m proud that we are a small business with ISO 9001:2015 certification. I’m super proud that I’m moving this month from a 5,800 square foot facility to one that is 16,100 square feet. But I’m most proud of my employees embracing change and our company's purpose.

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with JetCo Federal?

When my company was young, we dealt with the normal scrappy start-up challenges. I remember at that time longing for the days when the company was well-established enough to feel sustainable. Our company is a teenager now – we are 13 years old in 2020. The challenges associated with growth carry more weight. 

My biggest challenge was me. We created and achieved strategic goals. We grew. Blah, blah, blah. But I was in the way in terms of connecting each leadership team member and each employee on how they contributed. 

As a result, I was not challenging my talented employees to stretch, and I was not giving them a sense of purpose. We changed that in our 2020 strategic planning, and the difference is profound. 

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network? 

Get involved. Assume your fellow WIPP members want to be helpful and generous with their knowledge. And share your talents with the organization. It makes us all stronger. 




JetCo Federal Learn more about Sue and her team at JetCo Federal Supply at https://www.jetcofederal.com.

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.
 

Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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The WIPP Connection - February 2020

Posted By Team WIPP, Sunday, February 2, 2020
Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Karen R. Jenkins

Connections make our community stronger. It all starts with a simple hello. Check our WIPP Connection column each month on the WIPP In Action blog and our monthly email update. Our goal is to ensure you have the information to join us where you are and make connections with WIPP leadership, staff, and other members!

 

We hope to see you sometime this month at one of these events:

Tags:  community  membership  networking 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Karen R. Jenkins

Posted By Laura Berry, Saturday, February 1, 2020
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2020
Karen R. Jenkins

Karen R. Jenkins
President & CEO
KRJ Consulting, LLC
https://krjconsulting.com

What led you to join WIPP? 

It was important for KRJ Consulting, LLC (KRJC) to become engaged, in a thoughtful way, to an organization with a strong network with like-minded small business owners, who share similar challenges and successes, and WIPP was a perfect fit.

Being a member of the organization has been critical in understanding the issues that impact our business now and in the future. Most of all, WIPP advocates for its members, provides a blueprint for us to proactively champion for our businesses, and keeps us engaged on a regular basis. Joining such an impactful organization was an imperative for KRJC. 

As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network?

My favorite part of being involved in the WIPP network is interaction with and getting to know such an incredible and accomplished group of women who are as passionate about the policies that impact their businesses as they are about growing their organizations. The level of thought, ideas, and action is a powerful inspiration. 

As a federal contractor, what do you gain from WIPP Membership?

The thing that I’ve gained from WIPP membership is access to federal decision makers – from contracting representatives to policymakers – that have informed my company’s direction. Whether it is participating in WIPP webinars, including last year’s advocacy briefing about proposed rule changes, or participating in the sessions on Capitol Hill, my membership has helped shape our macro-level view of how we need to be connected to those who are making decisions that widely affect women-owned businesses like KRJC. 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

My biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions are two-fold: Paying attention to the briefings and updates before final decisions are made by lawmakers in my state and in Washington, D.C., and gaining insight and suggestions from WIPP leaders who are consistently advocating for its members. 

What is your proudest moment?

The proudest moment for KRJ Consulting was when the U.S. Small Business Administration selected me as the South Carolina Female Small Business Person of the Year in 2019. At that moment, all of our hard work, tenacity, and the challenges we overcame were recognized by local and state SBA leadership. The experience was such an honor and has made me even more committed to growing KRJC and expanding our community involvement, especially with other small business owners in Columbia. 

 

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome?


Our biggest challenge came about four years ago, when my father, for whom I was the primary caregiver, passed away after a long illness. Shortly after, my son suffered a life-threatening ruptured brain aneurysm just after graduating from high school. He was in rehabilitation for several months in another state, and I chose to manage my businesses at the rehab facility, while commuting home for meetings and outreach to potential customers. 

We lost a lot of revenue during the two family crises, but during my son’s rehab, I committed to rebuilding KRJC. From regularly calling contracting officers and small business specialists to searching for and responding to as many RFPs as possible, I was determined that my business survive. 

As a result of consistent outreach and advocating for KRJC, we have quadrupled our revenue since 2016. While this was a very difficult challenge and a stressful time, thankfully, my son has recovered and KRJC continues to grow financially and we have been able to increase our team each year. 

What advice would you give to a new member looking to be engaged in the WIPP network?

I would recommend that new members be fully ready to engage when they affiliate with WIPP. Whether attending the annual conference, serving on issue committees that are of particular interest, and participating in topical webinars, active participation means getting the most out of your membership! 



Learn more about Karen and her team at KRJ Consulting at https://krjconsulting.com.

KRJConsulting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

 

 

Tags:  leadership  membership  spotlight 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Amina Elgouacem

Posted By Laura Berry, Friday, January 3, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, January 14, 2020

 

 

Amina Elgouacem

President

NEOSTEK, Inc.

http://www.neostek.com

 
Amina Elgouacem

What led you to join WIPP?


When I started NEOSTEK in 2010, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Woman Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) certification program was not in place yet. I didn’t have a contracting vehicle and my designation was Small Business, which means I have to compete against the large Small Businesses in IT. 


I came across a ChallengeHer event, with a networking session held at the Department of State, geared toward educating businesses on the WOSB program and how it helps remove barriers for competition and allow women-owned companies to have an opportunity to compete and win contracts in the federal government. 


A year after the WOSB program was put in place, I won my first prime contract at the Department of State; it was competed as an EDWOSB set-aside contract. I decided to join WIPP as a member in 2013 to stay up-to-date with policy affecting my business. I realized that the WOSB program at that time still had limitations compared to other set-aside programs, there was a $4 million cap on competed contracts, and there was no sole source designation. 


I then decided to apply to join the WIPP Leadership Advisory Council (LAC) to provide input to policy affecting WOSBs and to become a mentor to new businesses. Affecting policy and change is bigger than any one of us; it really requires input from all to tell the story and get the support we need to make an impact.

 

As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network? 


My favorite part of being involved with WIPP is to collaborate with like-minded, smart women business entrepreneurs who share the same passion to affect change, who share similar stories, and face similar challenges, and who understand that policy and advocacy is the way to get the word out and affect change. 


Also, my involvement with the LAC has given me an opportunity to be a panelist in business events and reverse industry day events to represent the WOSB community, to provide our perspective and experiences, and also to publicly provide advice to business audiences based on my experiences and what I have accomplished so far. Thanks to WIPP, I was interviewed and quoted in a Forbes article on “Study: Women Small Business Owners Being Shut Out of Major Government Contracts.” 


I also had an opportunity to get in front of the House Small Business Caucus last year to share my experience on government contracting, challenges we face, and how policy can help with our members of the Congress. It’s really about being able to give back and affecting change.

 

As a federal contractor, what do you gain from WIPP Membership?


By being a WIPP member as a federal contractor, I get the most up to date information on policy that affects my business. You also have a network of other federal government contractors and entrepreneurs who are willing to help and support you through your journey as an entrepreneur as you grow your business through different levels. You may have questions about policy such as the WOSB Sole Source and how it works and get more detailed information to educate your customers on the program. 


You may find your next mentor at WIPP. Whether you just started your business, or you are outgrowing your small business status and you’re looking for advice on what’s next. You will find another woman who has that experience at WIPP. You will find women who have sold their businesses and who acquired other businesses. By attending events, including ChallengeHer and conferences, I’ve had an opportunity to meet with these outstanding bright women entrepreneurs from various backgrounds and experiences, and it’s just amazing to be part of the experience and hear their story.


What is your proudest moment for NEOSTEK?


It’s hard to select a proud moment when you’re a small business, as every milestone you achieve brings tears to your eyes, because you know you made it and you worked so hard every step of the way to get there against all the odds, so I will choose one. 


I was proud to be on the cover of the CIOReview Magazine and getting a four-page spread on the topic of “Precision Records Information Management to Facilitate Modernization,” after being interviewed and being selected as the cover story, along with being named one of the Top 10 Enterprise Information Management Consulting/Services companies of 2019 alongside IBM. 


The article and the achievement are the culmination of a lot of hard work in order to be known in our industry as the best service provider in Enterprise Information Management serving the federal government sector. This means we are not going back, we are only going forward, we will roll up our sleeves and continue climbing high. It will take patience, and perseverance.



What is the biggest challenge you have overcome with NEOSTEK?


The most challenging part when you grow as a business is planning for hard times and sustainment and being able to ride the wave. You have to plan years in advance and prepare for low times to keep your workforce employed. You can never put all your eggs in one basket and win a deal that is too big to lose. 


When a large business decided to take our subcontracted work with a one-week notice and no reason, we were prepared because we had just won a few new contracts that we worked hard to get for years, but we had to make a tough decision on who to keep. It was one of the most challenging moments because we had the best employees, who were the best performers on that contract, and we were able to keep most of them because we prepared. 

 
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Learn more about Amina and her team at NEOSTEK at http://www.neostek.com
NEOSTEK
Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.


Tags:  membership  spotlight 

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WIPP Member Spotlight - Cindy Towers, Esq.

Posted By Laura Berry, Monday, December 2, 2019

Cynthia (Cindy) Towers, Esq.
President & CEO
JURISolutions Legal
http://www.jurisolutions.com
WIPP Member since 2014

 

Cindy Towers

What led you to join WIPP?

I was introduced to WIPP by a colleague at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) when I shared we were thinking about launching a government contracting division of JURISolutions (known then as “JuriStaff”). Suffice it to say, I was “all in” when I discovered that WIPP is a nonpartisan organization focused not only on the federal procurement process, but also on the broader goal of leveling the playing field for all women entrepreneurs through legislative advocacy and education.  
As a WIPP member, what is your favorite part of being involved in the network? 

 

Although there is much to love about WIPP and the WIPP network, I would have to say advocacy opportunities on Capitol Hill has been the most fun and rewarding. WIPP makes it so easy for ordinary business owners to step-up and contribute to the collective impact of the organization. 

 

As a federal contractor, what do you gain from WIPP Membership?

WIPP has been instrumental in helping us grow as a federal contractor thanks to its robust educational platforms. WIPP offers numerous webinars, workshops, and live events offered through the WIPP Education Foundation, WIPP Education Platform, and ChallengeHER events. We also gained access to an amazing network of subject matter experts in the WIPP community, some of whom we hired as consultants. 

 

What is your biggest takeaway from WIPP advocacy actions?

Advocacy works! As a woman in business for over 20 years and a frequent mentor to the next generation of women business owners, I have often heard frustrated complaints from women about things like disparity in access to capital, workforce development in STEAM fields, and pay equity. After participating in WIPP’s successful efforts in 2015 to secure sole source authorization for the WOSB program, I can say with confidence that echoing WIPPs message on these issues through Congressional outreach works!

What is your proudest moment for JURISolutions Legal?

Running a company while raising three children seldom leaves me with a shortage of stories surrounding the horrors that can occur when my two worlds unavoidably intersect. While I could carpet a small country with all the notes on my mistakes, one of the best moments in my career to date is the day I actually got it right! 
It was the week of my oldest daughter’s 10th birthday which just happened to coincide with an event my clients were expecting me to attend. What a dilemma! Do I miss the event or do I miss my firstborn’s milestone of reaching double digits?


Then I had an idea: “Honey, how you would like to go to a black tie gala with mom for your birthday?” She was thrilled! She not only received a license to buy a fancy dress, but she was going to get to spend the night in a hotel with mom! Alone!  

 

However, what started out as a simple idea on how to avoid the unbearable guilt of missing my daughter’s birthday proved to be so much more for both of us. In addition to the gala, I took my daughter to some of the educational programming. As I watched her listen attentively and hang on every word spoken by the woman giving the keynote, it occurred to me that this trip was no longer about alleviating guilt. It was about setting the stage for the next generation of successful women. It was about being face-to-face with real life role models teaching her that there is no limit to what women can achieve. 

 

While I have an incredible amount of respect for formal education, that day my daughter and I were taught lessons you just can’t learn in school. For my daughter, she got her first taste of all the opportunities that await her and for me, the flame was lit for my commitment to doing my part in leveling the playing field for women and other diverse groups in business.

 

What is the biggest challenge you have overcome in business?

While there are challenges every day in business, I believe the one I am most proud of was figuring out a way to not only survive during the economic downturn of 2007 to 2009, but also to prosper. By leveraging the talent displaced by many of our clients, we were able to repackage that talent back to our clients in and innovative and cost effect manner. It was undeniably a win/win for everyone.

 

What advice would you give to a new WIPP member?

The best advice I can give to a new member is to educate yourself on all that the network has to offer and take advantage of as many resources and opportunities to engage as you can. Equally as important is to be ever mindful of giving back and paying it forward to others in the network.  

 

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Learn more about Cindy and her team at JURISolutions Legal at http://www.jurisolutions.com.

JURISolutions

 

Each month, WIPP highlights a member who has leveraged WIPP membership to grow their business, engage with elected officials, and/or elevate the mission of WIPP and the visibility of women-owned businesses.

 

Tags:  membership  spotlight 

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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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