Relationships are Key to Winning at the Contracting Game

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By Debbie Gregory.

In order to build a successful business, you need to have a solid foundation. Part of that foundation includes relationships with your clientele, vendors, etc.

When dealing with the U.S. Federal Government, you probably already know that you have competition—a lot of competition. The government is the largest buyer of goods and services in the world, spending over $500 billion per year. So how do you make your business stand out and become noticeable to contracting officers, small business specialists, and program offices?

Relationships! In friendships or business, human nature dictates that people want to be with and work with those they know and like. Be committed to consistently reaching out and making the effort to keep you and your business at the forefront of the minds of the people with whom you want to work.

Be sure that you leave a positive impression with each contact you have, be it in person, on the phone or through email. Always be courteous, even if you are feeling rejected. Let them see how easy it is to work with you. Make sure you have done your homework and are prepared, so that you know they’re buying what you’re selling.

Make sure that your end-user knows you can do the job by showing them completed projects of similar complexity, size and scope. Additionally, respond to their inquiries and correspondence in a most timely manner.

And last, but not least, share information and technical expertise as part of your commitment to building or fortifying your relationships with current and potential customers.

Military Creates Entrepreneurial Mind Set

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By Debbie Gregory.

Whether at the helm of a two-person company or a bigger player, strong leadership skills can mean the difference between a successful business and a failing one. Leadership is almost 100% about managing people.

Having great ideas and a strategic vision won’t get you far if your employees aren’t willing to follow you. And too many entrepreneurs take leadership skills for granted.

This is usually not a problem for veterans in an entrepreneurial role. But just what is it about the military that has created individuals with such a strong sense of leadership? What values do veterans leave their military service with that that makes operationalizing a team so easy?

A business’s success really boils down to the way the team works together. Here are some pointers that will serve all businesses well:

  • You’re one team, despite your position. Lead by example. And never be afraid to ask for advice.
  • Listen throughout the chain of command. Communication is key! Share successes and failures. Information clearly transmitted gives them context and a sense of belonging to the company.
  • Embrace diversity. Hire and retain the best of the best. Often times, these employees will be your fellow veterans.
  • Have a strategic vision. Plan where you want your business to be in five years and how you are going to take it there.
  • Don’t be afraid to delegate. Leaders can be found at all levels in an organization. Giving your employees more responsibility will help you to identify which ones have what it takes, allowing you the opportunity to help them develop their leadership skills.

Successful CEOs must build a team that are prepared to pitch in and move out of their comfort zones. This is something fundamental in the military, where the teamwork ethic is so strong that they never leave a man behind.

VAMBOA: California Business Portal

Those who own a small business — or want to start one — now have a one-stop source of information about the how-tos.

California’s Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development this month set up a website dedicated to answering basic questions about starting, running or relocating a business.

Users also can use the portal to obtain licenses and permits, as well as to learn about state and local regulations and find links to additional information on government incentives.

The site is at and is accessible on both iOS and Android cell phones and other devices.

Reach Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at