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Spoiler Alert! The Truth About (Small Business) Subs and Primes... Part 2

Sunday, August 26, 2012   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Guy Timberlake (
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The comments and responses to Spoiler Alert! The Truth About (Small Business) Subs and Primes. have begun to roll in and there have been no real surprises even from those I know at mid-tier and large companies. The fact of the matter is the procurements, the relationship between Government and Industry and how the small business community is generally viewed by Government and the Industry usual suspects needs fixing on many fronts. Unfortunately, it's the kind of fixing we're not likely to see in this generation of government and government contractors.
To be fair, total fault does not reside in one camp, everyone needs to pitch in to make it work.
But that is a topic for another time.
For now I would like to address one of the comments I received because in all honesty, I am not certain I understand it as it was delivered. Tone and inflection are one of the problems that continues to exist with email and social media.
Here is part of the response I received in one of the LinkedIn Groups I belong to:
I would hope small business owners are not that naive and are just taking advantage to get their foot in the door and get that experience but I can see how ego might make them think they are so great a prime needs their expertise. So good to be a spoiler to save them from getting too big of a head they lose sight of their original hard work on their business.
Obviously, the underlined comments are what concern me the most, so that is the focus of my response.
In my most humble opinion, to be an entrepreneur or small business owner in any industry requires superhuman confidence (or over-confidence), especially in government contracting. Even if you birth "it", you don't always have the inherent skills needed to make "it" happen or to deliver "it" so you need the confidence to know you can pull together the right team. Think about it, even those ventures that turned out to be very successful were told by some (if not many) they were foolish or even nuts to pursue their ambitions. After all, who in their right mind puts up their home or life savings as security for a dream? It's that willingness to take risks that makes us great as a breed. Think about it this way, these are the folks who buck the norm and live a part or most of their life without the guarantee of a weekly/bi-weekly paycheck. That takes a certain set of stones, don't you think?
So when it comes to "ego" of course we have that. Some folks call it confidence, others call it "cocky" but no matter how you slice it, it takes guts the average person does not have, to be one of us that is.
If the company is innovative and responsibly vets those innovations to determine they actually provide benefit to the few or the many, why shouldn't we think someone would "need" what it is we bring to the table?
But herein lies the rub.
If you develop something that creates efficiencies in a way that implementing it would require the average government contractor to cut the number of billable positions on a task, be prepared for the shock of a lifetime. Even if it benefits the end-user customer (or is a better use of taxpayer dollars), many prime contractors will stonewall you. You are cutting into their revenue projections and for many, their shareholders will be ticked.
Tell me you've never seen it or experienced it yourself.
Some of those reading this post have actually been the "hammer" at a mid-tier or large government contractor given the task of dispensing with such an innovation to ensure the government customer never got wind of it.
You know it's true.

So again I ask, why should prime contractors receive incentive to work with small government contractors beyond the opportunity privilege of being considered for award by fulfilling a requirement of doing business with federal agencies?


The Chief Visionary


"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

Differentiate Yourself. Develop and Leverage Your Small Business C4ISR™.
(Capacity, Commitment, Core Competency, Intelligence, Strategy and Relationships)


Michael Sullivan, The Fearthainne Group says...
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Guy - Yes, many of us have been hammered because our solution(s) to problem(s) negatively impacted a Prime contractors Service contract. I actually had a Prime PM pull me aside and say to me, "Mike, you guys have the keys to solve problem "X"; but, by doing so, it would essentially end this contract for me. And, I've got over 300 people on a 5-yr contract." Needless to say, the Prime never implemented our solution(s). Funny, I've never heard from that PM (or anyone else from that Prime) again.

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