The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss.
How to Get Federal Contracts Without Writing Proposals
Sirena Moore-Thomas is the CEO of The Highmark Group LLC. She is an accomplished Mompreneur, Author, Speaker and Strategist affectionally known as The Destroyer of Comfort Zones! Despite being a teen mom of twins with no college degree, she has led several multimillion-dollar businesses, won hundreds of Federal Contracts, and continues to empower business leaders around the world. Sirena’s entrepreneurial accomplishments have been featured in The New York Times, NBC Nightly News, Black Enterprise Magazine, Essence Upscale Magazine, and BET. For more information: www.SirenaThomas.com
SmallBizLady: Sirena, what do you love the most about Federal Contracting?
Sirena Thomas: There are so many things that I love about federal contracting, but here are a few.
- Contrary to popular belief, the Federal Government never runs out of money. They literally print their own (legally) lol. The federal government spends more than $500 billion dollars each year and more than $140 billion dollars with small businesses.
- The Federal Government literally buys everything from dog food to aircraft parts from yoga instructors to IT services.
- They buy using many different methods, Multi-year contracts, purchase orders, purchase card purchases, and more.
- Lastly, the Prompt Pay Act makes the Federal Government a favorite of mine. Federal Government systems such as DIBBS that issue purchase orders that are paid in as little as 15 days. This is huge for small businesses that often struggle with cash flow.
SmallBizLady: Is now a good time to consider doing business with the Federal Government?
Sirena Thomas: YES INDEED! I personally believe that EVERY small business should at least understand the basics of government contracting. In December 2021, The Biden-Harris administration announced their plan to use the Federal Government’s buying power to close the wealth gap in underserved communities. Here’s what they said:
“The federal government is the largest consumer of goods in the world, buying everything from software to elevator services to financial and asset management,” and “federal procurement is one of our most powerful tools to advance equity and build wealth in underserved communities,” said a fact-sheet from the White House.
This initiative seeks to increase federal contracts going to small-disadvantaged businesses by 50%. That translates to approximately $100Billion for small disadvantaged businesses by 2025. Now is the time to begin positioning your products and services in the wide-open federal marketplace.
Smallbizlady: Why are you teaching small businesses how to win federal contracts without writing proposals?
Sirena Thomas: My short answer is because no one else is doing it. See, after winning multiple 8(a) Sole Source contracts and hundreds of DLA Purchase orders as a prime contractor without writing proposals, I knew that I was on to something. I truly began to understand the power of doing business with the Federal Government and how life-changing it can be for small business owners. However, the free training provided by many of the agencies made it seem nearly impossible to enter the Federal space, and they rarely talk about Simplified Acquisition Procedures (FAR Part 13). I started my first Bootcamp Cohort to prove that using my approach (micro-purchases, purchase cards, and systems like DIBBS), small business owners can quickly build past performance, reduce competition and learn how to position themselves for larger opportunities in the federal space. Now, our community is growing, and my students are winning micro-purchases and learning along the way. It’s incredible.
How to Grow Your Business Leadership
Molly is a highly respected entrepreneur, speaker, advocate, and author of the new book Master Your Mindset: How Women Leaders Step Up. As Chief Executive Officer of Design To Delivery Inc. (D2DInc), she provides program management support services to Federal government agencies. In 2021, she founded the Vellamo Leadership Institute to help women become better leaders. She served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) from 2014 to 2020. She also serves as a delegate for the United States on the W20, the G20’s working group on women’s issues, and is a member of the Advisory Board for the George Mason University Women in Business Initiative. For more information www.mollygimmel.com
SmallBizLady: The book is divided into two main parts. The first is focused on connecting to oneself, and the second to others. Why do you think it’s important to connect to oneself as a leader?
Molly Gimmel: I’ve learned that connecting to oneself is an invaluable tool in becoming an effective leader and something that I think women have a special talent for doing. Knowing oneself is useful on so many different levels as a leader—whether it be in developing a more fine-tuned awareness of one’s strengths or consciously shoring up inner resources for more confidence and resilience. The better you know yourself, and the more you are able to channel that awareness into an authentic expression of who you are, the more there is for those you lead to connect to and be inspired by. People can be impressed by your achievements, but they connect to who you are as a whole person: your struggles, challenges, and fortitude.
SmallBizLady: You also address overcoming imposter syndrome. Can you talk a little bit about why you think it’s important to nip imposter syndrome in the bud?
Molly Gimmel: Many women struggle with imposter syndrome, and it’s definitely not a phenomenon that happens exclusively to professional women. Imposter syndrome is also not experienced solely by women, though it was first identified in professional women back in 1978. It’s estimated that about 70% of people will experience it at some point in their lives.
The dialogue running in our heads, the stories we tell ourselves—like we’re frauds or failures, that we’re not good enough or aren’t deserving of the opportunities we get—they often exist in the background of our minds just below the level of full awareness. This auto-pilot negative self-talk can be really damaging if we let it run free.
Developing mindfulness around inner dialogue, paying attention to the content of that dialogue, and then intentionally beginning a practice around changing that dialogue takes work, but it is foundational for self-development and self-empowerment.
SmallBizLady: You talk about empathy as being an important skill for leadership. Why do you think that is?
Molly Gimmel: I think we’re in a unique moment of human history when empathy is something we would all benefit from cultivating more of, and at the end of the day, leadership is about human connection. Empathy is also a skill that works in two ways: it allows you, within yourself, to connect more fully to those you lead. Trying to put yourself in the shoes of those you work with and lead connects you to the basic humanity that binds us all. In turn, when people feel seen, understood, and appreciated for their humanity, they can then connect back. I see you; I am trying to understand you: two basic tenets of empathy that are simple but can fundamentally shift the relationships we have with those we lead.
How to Actually Make the Changes You Already Know You Need to Make
Small business expert Barry Moltz gets companies unstuck. He is the author of 7 business books, a family business advisor, and an M&A consultant. His latest book is Change Masters, How to Actually Make the Change You Already Know You Need to Make. Barry also hosts “The Small Business Radio Show” on AM820 In Chicago. For more information: www.Barrymoltz.com
If you know you need to change something in your business, what should you do first?
Step 1: Decide the change you want to make. Be specific and keep it small to start. To fight the brain’s not wanting to change, pick something that you see as incremental. Remember: big changes are very hard to make all at one time. Permanent change happens a little bit at a time. Example answer: I want to start reviewing my small business’s profit-and-loss statement every month.
Step 2: Review how you are currently doing the thing you want to change. Do not judge it—just say it. Be honest and kind to yourself. Example answer: I only review my profit-and-loss statement when my accountant asks me to.
Step 3: Get clear about why you want to make the change in your business. Change must come from internal motivation, but it could be thrust on you by outside forces. Express the pain or discomfort you are feeling that drives you to make this change. Example answer: I never have enough money at the end of the month to pay all my bills.
Step 4: What is specifically inspiring you to make this change? This must come from within, not from someone else telling you that you must make a change. Example answer: I do not have enough cash to do the things I want in my business or my personal life. You also need to consider what will happen if you do not make this change. Typically, the cost of not making a change is a financial loss or at least emotional distress. A lot of change is made out of fear of what will happen if the change is not made.
Step 5: Consider what makes you uncomfortable when you think of making this change. Part of the fear of change is what will happen if we are successful. Example answer: That I will either become overwhelmed with the information because I can’t understand it or that I will find we are in a worse financial situation than I thought.
SmallBizLady: Why do you need a team to support change?
Barry Moltz: Change happens only with a support system. This can be a friend or mentor who will keep you accountable but at the same time does not judge you. Example answer: My mentor Rick. He always has an outside perspective based on his years of success and mentoring others.
SmallBizLady: How can positive affirmation or giving yourself a reward support a business owner with completing even small steps?
Barry Moltz: Go ahead and pat yourself on the back! Rewarding yourself for completing new actions in your business will help you fight the discomfort of the change. This is a reward for taking any action, even if you were unsuccessful. Example answer: Treat myself to a bowl of French fries with lots of salt.
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