SBA Announces Changes to Contracting Program to Help Women-Owned Businesses Compete for Federal Contracts

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “SBA Announces Changes to Contracting Program to Help Women-Owned Businesses Compete for Federal Contracts .” For more information please visit www.sba.gov.

Are you a woman-owned business looking to get a slice of the more than $400 billion dollar federal contracting pie? Under the new National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, the SBA will make changes to its Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program to help women-owned small businesses get more federal contracts and help the federal government meet and exceed its statutory five percent women’s contracting goal.

How Will the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 Affect Women-Owned Small Businesses?

Prior to the new law, the anticipated award price of a contract for women-owned (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB) could not exceed $6.5 million for manufacturing contracts and $4 million for all other contracts. The new law removes these thresholds for WOSBs and EDWOSBs allowing them greater access to federal contracting opportunities without limitations or restrictions to the value of a contract.

The law also requires the SBA to conduct another study to identify and report industries underrepresented by women-owned small businesses. As a result, more eligible women-owned businesses may be able to participate in SBA’s Women’s Federal Contract Program and compete for and win federal contracts.

successful_businesswoman_phoneHow Do You Know If You Are Eligible for the Women’s Contracting Program?

To be eligible for the program, you must meet the following criteria:

Third Party Certification and Self-Certification

Every firm that wishes to participate in the WOSB program must meet the eligibility requirements and either self-certify or obtain third party certification. There are four approved third-party certifiers that perform eligibility exams: El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Women Business Owners Corporation, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

youngwomancheckershutterstock_63980512Contracting Opportunities for Women-Owned Businesses

The WOSB Program identifies eighty-three four-digit North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) codes where WOSBs are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented. Contracting officers may set aside contracts in these industries if the contract can be awarded at a fair and reasonable price and the contracting officer has a reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs or EDWOSBs will submit offers for the contract.

Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean – Part 4

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean – 8 Tips That May Inspire You .” For more information please visit www.sba.gov.

laptop_travel_onbeachQ: How do you get started with marketing in a service-oriented business?

A:  “I always recommend to any business, regardless whether it’s a product or service, that it be informed by the target market which has been previously identified in the marketing section of your business plan. This is because we know that certain demographics have certain shopping habits. For example, girls 18-25 tend to shop online. So if you’re marketing to that age group for merchandise, I would advertise online. It helps to pay attention to where your competition is marketing; they may have done the research for you.”

Q: How do you fine tune your elevator pitch after you do your spring cleaning?

A: “Here is a general rule of thumb for composing elevator speeches. Name (you’d be surprised how often people forget to say their name in the press of the moment), the name of your company (again, people forget), the purpose of your service or product (this should just be a sentence or two) and last but not least, something that adds a sense of urgency or uniqueness about your firm or product.”

Video: 2012 NWS Lightning Safety Awareness Message

The following is the video, “2012 NWS Lightning Safety Awareness Message.”

Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean – Business Expenses

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean – 8 Tips That May Inspire You .” For more information please visit www.sba.gov.

money-wads-and-notebookQ: What are some easy ways to spring clean my expenses related to my business?

A: “Great question. I would pick a number, say $200 or so, and any expenditures with an annual outlay of above this amount would have to either show a benefit—meaning the expenditure is directly parlaying into revenue—or absolute necessity. If the expenditure cannot do that, eliminate it or find a less costly way. You might even set some goals for expenditures—like how much you will spend on advertising for the year.”

Q: I own a franchise business. It’s been open for 7 years, and I need some capital infused to help me grow. I am a sole proprietor. Any suggestions?

A: “Yes, I have a suggestion. Gather up all your financial reporting, including tax returns, and make an appointment with someone at SCORE or an SBDC. Did you know that it might be possible to get a coach at SCORE who has experience in your industry and can mentor you? You can, of course, also make an appointment for an informal meeting with your original funder. If your cash flow is marginal, ask about a SBA (loan) guarantee.”

Video: How to Survive a Hurricane

The following is the video, “How to Survive a Hurricane.”

Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean – Consider Technology

The following is an excerpt taken from the article, “Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean – 8 Tips That May Inspire You .” For more information please visit www.sba.gov.

Q: As business development specialists, most of our business involves providing a service to our clients (i.e.: consultations, training, etc.). How can we combine our services with technology to better conduct business? How can we take advantage of technology as service providers? And, is it prudent to do so?

young_businesspeople_discuss_atlaptopshutterstock_71639383A: “Let me share with you a strategy we are currently launching here at The Women’s Business Center. The most requested workshops—usually those containing basic building block type information—we’ll be putting online. This frees our rather small staff to do more sophisticated work and workshops because we aren’t continually having to do ALL workshops. And the basic ones can be self-tutored. We believe this to be a good strategy because, in effect, we can provide more and more varied workshops to the general public.”

Q: What is the best format to utilize social media to grow your business?

social_mediaA: “The short answer is, it depends on the business. Some businesses should stay away from certain forms of social media. For example, a Facebook page might not be appropriate for a medical doctor. A review of your target market and a short consultation with a professional can help you determine what kind of social media is appropriate and most effective for you.”

Video: A hurricane in the making

The following is the video, “Animation: A hurricane in the making.”

Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean

The following is an excerpt taken from the article “Give Your Small Business a Spring Clean – 8 Tips That May Inspire You .” For more information please visit www.sba.gov.

Did you give your business a spring clean this year?  Are you looking for new ways to boost sales, build your brand or get your business plan back on track?

This is the topic of one of SBA’s monthly web chats – Small Business Spring Clean: How to Keep Your Business Ideas Fresh – hosted by Octavia Kuransky, Program Development Manager at Central Alabama Women’s Business Center (and archived on SBA’s Learning Center).

Check out some of these great suggestions from Octavia’s session and be inspired!

Q: When should a small business website be updated?

A: “Great question.  An outdated website sends the wrong message to potential clients. Recently, we had an expert in to talk on web development.  He recommended a monthly sprucing and the inclusion of a blog in order to make your website more attractive to Google.”

blogconcept

Q: What’s one of the best ways to get your press releases picked up by the media?

A: “I notice greater success in generating press coverage when I can connect to a breaking news story or some issue that is of interest already. Cultivate a relationship with a reporter so that you can call them directly and not have to reinvent the wheel each time. Collaborations always seem to be of interest to the press especially if the outcome can be shown to have some real impact. That should be your aim—to show impact. Impact equals news.”

I’d also add another point – try and target reporters who have influence on social media. Check their Klout score (a measure of influence), the kind of stories they write about and share. Look for a match with your product/industry.

pressreleaseshutterstock_118623175

Reducing Vulnerability To Theft

The following is an excerpt taken from the article “Reducing Vulnerability To Theft.” For more information please visit www.iii.org.

theft_pocketing_nailpolishBusinesses face various types of theft, including burglary and robbery by outsiders, theft by insiders and identity theft.

Burglary – Burglary refers to crimes involving the unlawful entry of a structure with or without force. Burglary prevention starts with making your premises an unattractive target by creating barriers to illicit entry. Appropriate measures will vary depending on the type of business, the premises and the location. For some businesses, security needs may be met simply by leasing a professional office in a building with good security and assuring there are strong doors and appropriate locks. This is particularly true for organizations in low-crime areas without high-value goods on the premises.

An enterprise in a building with numerous entrances and windows, located in an area with a high-crime rate and having high-value goods on hand presents a different picture. Whatever type of business you have, your insurance agent, locksmith, police department and a security consultant can provide information on how to make your premises harder to burgle. They may recommend such improvements as steel doors that fit tightly into doorframes, shatterproof window glass, stronger window locks and a fence around the premises.

Exterior lighting deters burglars. The fewer dark places around your facility, the better. Don’t let trees or shrubs grow around windows. These provide an opportunity for criminals to conceal what they are doing. Keep dumpsters away from the building.

Valuable property should be locked up to further deter theft. You may want to invest in an alarm system that rings in the police station or at a private security firm.

Robbery – Robberies involve the taking of valuables from another person(s) by force or threat of force. If you receive cash in your business, train employees what to do in case of robbery. Your local police department can assist you in developing training material. Limit the amounts of cash in cash registers.

Insider Crime – Many businesses put a great deal of effort into protecting their property from theft by outsiders but neglect to put an equal effort into preventing insider theft. Employers should not underestimate the risk of trusted employees stealing from the company.burglar_tryingtoenter

Loss control experts at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) encourage employers to adopt two strategies to prevent internal theft: increase the perceived probability of discovery and decrease the probability that an employee will commit the crime.

The ACFE recommends stringent accounting controls, which your accountant can help you create, and frequent audits. Having a policy that gives honest employees a way to report theft by their co-workers without fear of reprisal helps cut down insider theft, as does emphasis on ethical practices, rewarding company loyalty and having clear performance standards.

Identity Theft – Identity theft occurs when an individual uses someone else’s personal information to commit fraud. Federal law requires businesses to provide identity theft victims with transaction records relating to their identity theft free of charge.

Tick-Borne Diseases – Part 5

The following is an excerpt taken from the article “Tick-Borne Diseases.” For more information please visit www.cdc.gov.

Recommendations for Workers

Take the following steps to protect yourself from tick bites:

  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into boots or socks.
  • Use insect repellents that provide protection for the amount of time you will be outdoors:
    • Follow repellent label directions for use.
    • Use repellents containing 20%-30% DEET on your exposed skin and clothing to prevent tick bites.
    • Reapply repellents as needed
      woman_in_gardenshutterstock_131537969.
  • Use repellents such as Permethrin for greater protection.
    • Permethrin kills ticks on contact.
    • Permethrin can be used on clothing but should not be used on skin.image of long pants tucked into socks
    • One application of permethrin to pants, socks, and shoes typically stays effective through several washings.
    • Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for many (up to 70) washings.
  • Check your skin and clothes for ticks every day. The immature forms of these ticks are very small and may be hard to see.
    • Shower or bathe as soon as possible after working outdoors to wash off and cheimage of tweezers extracting a tickck for ticks.
    • Remember to check your hair, underarms, and groin for ticks.
    • Immediately remove ticks from your body using fine-tipped tweezers.
    • Grasp the tick firmly and as close to your skin as possible.
    • Pull the tick’s body away from your skin with a steady motion.
    • Clean the area with soap and water.
    • Removing infected ticks within 24 hours reduces your risk of being infected with the Lyme disease bacterium.
  • Wash and dry work clothes in a hot dryer to kill any ticks present.
  • Learn the symptoms of tick-borne diseases.
  • If you develop symptoms of a tick-borne disease seek medical attention promptly. Be sure to tell your health care provider that you work outdoors in an area where ticks may be present.