Entitlement is an attitude, not a goal.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Posted by: Guy Timberlake (theasbc.org/visionary)
Since my first day in the business of federal contracting, I have had a slightly different perspective on working with agencies as a vendor primarily because I came into this business supporting the operations of the U.S. Intelligence Community during Operation Desert Shield which eventually became Desert Storm. I worked for a small business (that's it, no special dispensations) who "brought the goods" by way of expertise, capacity and a focus on the customer's mission.
My attitude remains different than a number of folks in this business who own and work for companies eligible to participate as a small business concern or one of the small business subcategories. I stress subcategories because it seems some many in Government and Industry view these as competing programs. This belief manifests itself as perpetual in-fighting between the various "types" of small business concerns, which in-turn detracts from the overall focus of the small business government contracting community. Instead of being focused on creating and leveraging meaningful opportunities for small business concerns of all types to support civilian, defense and intelligence agencies, we and government agencies are left to deal with confusion created by constant change in the small business program policy. This is seemingly based on efforts by the Government to appease the socioeconomic lobbies that profit from this continued angst. All the while "other than small businesses" chuckle all the way to the bank while the bickering continues.
But that's another discussion altogether.
The real point I want to make in this piece is about the attitude of some new to federal contracting as well as many already here, who feel we owe them something just because they qualify as a small business concern. I say we, because as a taxpayer, the bucks start with me and every other resident required to pony up to Uncle Sam and the states. While a segment of those who can't understand where their part of the 23% is may have arrived at this belief on their own, much of it is the result of some misinformed representatives of agencies and prime contractors, and deliberate misinformation by detractors of the small business programs. So-called experts vying to help your company get certified in one of socioeconomic designations recognized by the U.S. Government also add to this mix as well.
Here's how it should be. Your small business designation should be a complement versus a crutch. Companies with elevator pitches that rattle off the various federal, state and local small business programs for which they are qualified without ever offering up their expertise (if they have any) make all small businesses look bad. Lead with "the goods" and why you matter to a specific organization, whether it's an agency or another contractor. Do the market research and business development necessary to go into discussions empowered and informed rather than asking for the customer to help you do your job.
If your value proposition is primarily or solely based on your company's small business designation(s), get out of the way and let the focused, talented and serious small businesses out there have the floor.
The Chief Visionary
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."