Maricopa SBDC hosts Statewide Veteran’s Conference Friday 8:30 a.m. at Phoenix College

Only one week until our event at Phoenix College for Veteran’s! The program is focused on Procurement and features Paul Smiley, a successful Vet owned small business as keynote. Paul’s story will inspire you, and inform you on how to make connections and turn it into contracts from government agencies that are committed to helping Vet’s. And it’s FREE, so sign up today!

Nov 2012 Veterans Workshop Flyer

Woman-Owned Small Business/Diversity Programs Highlighted by SBA

I don’t know how many of you receive the SBA’s new online newsletter, but the most recent copy is at http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/USSBA-56c21c. I would recommend you go to SBA.gov and signup if you haven’t already. They are doing a very good job of promoting themselves (and SBDC as a result) these days.

Karen Mills wrote an article in this issue that made comment on the Woman-owned business strength is the US, and after attending the recent NAWBO meeting she gave examples of small businesses and how we are making a difference. Kristin and Nancy from the Maricopa SBDC were at this conference, and although Karen did not brag about either and the work they are doing (I did hear that Kristin was getting face time, however) she does emphasize the importance of woman-minority programs to the SBA.

As such, I would remind everyone that Maricopa SBDC has a Woman-Minority program, and if you go to our website http://www.maricopa-sbdc.com/AZSBDC/diversity.html you will find information on the SBA and other Certification programs that make up a large part of our commitment to diversity. Additionally, the Spanish-Language programs that we do are unique, even among many of the Latin Chambers, and we have three staff that speak spanish as a service to that constituency.

City of Phoenix Shops Local!

March 6, 2012

Greg Stanton for News Releases    Mayor Greg Stanton

Mayor Greg Stanton fulfilled two more parts of his 100-day plan today when the city council approved two measures aimed at moving Phoenix’s economy forward.

Stanton and the council passed a program to enhance local and small businesses’ participation for city procurements and approved a streamlined way for businesses to submit plans electronically to the city.

“These are two important city plans I wanted to implement from day one to do our part in helping Phoenix businesses succeed and boost our economy and jobs,” Stanton said. “Local sourcing is key for our homegrown businesses and new technology speeds up the process so we can build upon Phoenix’s rising economy.”

Stanton thanked city manager David Cavazos and the city council for pursuing the electronic plan review and the procurement program in 2011 and seeing it to its approval today, as well as Local First Arizona executive director Kimber Lanning for relentlessly fighting for local and small businesses.

“I am thrilled to see Mayor Stanton taking a leadership role on such an important issue,” said Kimber Lanning, executive director of Local First Arizona, a statewide non-profit acting on behalf of 2,000 local businesses.  “Awarding more contracts to Arizona companies is a sure-fire way to create jobs. The business community appreciates these efforts.”

Stanton promised to fight for local businesses as Mayor and worked with the city and business leaders to push the procurement enhancement, which will allow them to compete for city business for goods and services contracts under $50,000. Stanton also supported a streamlined system of the electronic submittal of building plans.

“This is a win-win for architects and the city when it comes to building plans,” said Patrick Panetta, president of the American Institute of Architects, Arizona chapter. “This is another tool architects can utilize to offer clients greater value. Not only does it save money in the long term, but also it eliminates the tedious process of printing and delivering paper sets and creates a more flexible delivery method.”

Stanton said the two items put Phoenix out front to regain steam and move into a successful future.

“Phoenix is rising out of a recession and gaining speed with jobs, the economy and innovation,” Stanton said. “At the city, we have to keep pace and move ahead with our businesses for a strong economic future.”

Low Hanging Fruit for Better Margins

Contributed by Bill Conerly

Do small businesses have a lot of low-hanging fruit? You bet they do. Owners and managers ask me about the economy, then I ask about their business, and I’m often stunned by the opportunities being missed. So I asked some sharp consultants about the most common low hanging fruit. This article is about their advice regarding profit margins. Later this week I’ll post their comments about sales.

“Obsessing about revenues instead of margins” was Victor Diercksen’s response. Victor is a senior guy at eSoftware Professionals, a company which helps businesses use sophisticated software. That brought back a couple of memories of my own work. One client is a job shop in which customers describe their needs, an estimator bids the project, the work is performed and money is collected. This missing step: comparing actual costs with the estimated costs used to bid the project. Imagine a basketball player practicing free throws, but never seeing or hearing whether the ball went through the hoop. The company’s estimators never received feedback on their performance. As a result, the company won the contracts that it underbid. A further result: lower profit margins.

With that story in mind, I strolled through the trade show when I was speaking to another industry comprised of job shops. I stopped by the table of a vendor selling cost accounting software. I asked the guy how many of the companies in the industry were using any kind of software to help them track costs by project. He told me that about 50 percent were tracking their costs, and the rest were running blind.

Margins are also emphasized by Lonnie Sciambi, who calls himself “The Entrepreneur’s Yoda” : “For a start-up, revenue is critical. For an ongoing small business revenue is still critical, but determining how to wring more margin out of that revenue becomes equally so.” He advises determining the three to five numbers that really drive a business, then track them on a weekly or monthly basis.

Before we turn to the sales opportunities, let’s turn to one more element of operations: procedures. Tash Hughes, a writer from Melbourne, Australia, told me that one low hanging fruit was , “not having procedures and methods that can be followed easily by others – if one person has the skills and is unable to do the job, the business is in trouble; if a new person starts, a lot of training time is required; the resale value of the business is limited as no one can duplicate current practices; writing and reviewing processes can highlight areas for improvements.”

That brings to mind another consulting story. A real estate company wanted me to evaluate the long-term growth potential for three different metropolitan areas. The executive I was working with believed that he could do the evaluation himself, but he didn’t want to spend hours and hours getting the data. So he asked me not only to evaluate the three metropolitan areas, but to also document thoroughly the data sources so that on future projects, his assistant could gather the data. I did that and discovered an interesting result: I was using that data documentation myself. I usually grab data on the fly, sometimes stumbling around a bit.  (“Where do I get the regional location coefficients?” Is it BLS or BEA?) Now I turn to the binder with my data documentation and move more quickly. Yep, written procedures can be an efficiency tool, which means better profit margins.

NetworkingPhoenix.com – Signature Event Tonight!

AnnouncementDoor Prizes (RSVP for free to be eligible):

WhenWednesday, February 15th, 2012 6:00pm – 9:00pm
Description

Please RSVP using the “Event Toolbar” on the right side of this page. This will automatically enter you into the “door prize” raffle. You can also browse the list and see who else is attending by clicking on the link titled “See Who’s Attending.”If you are interested in participating as a Table Exhibitor please contact mitra@networkingphoenix.com.

House bills to redefine small, simplify partner programs

Washington Business Journal

by Jill R. Aitoro, Senior Staff Reporter

The House Small Business Committee will introduce Wednesday three bills that seek to up the influence of small business advocates in government, refine how government defines a small business, and streamline oversight of all programs that partner small businesses with larger mentor companies.

The proposals contribute to a growing flood of measures circulating in Congress to tackle small business issues.

Here’s what each of the three bills seeks to accomplish:

• The Small Business Opportunity Act, sponsored by Small Business Committee members Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., and Rep. Kurt Shrader, D-Ore., would require small business advocates within agencies to be part of federal procurement and acquisition planning processes. Specifically, representatives from the offices of small and disadvantaged business utilization as well as procurement center representatives would gain access to acquisition plans before requests for proposal are ready for release. The bill would also refine the responsibilities of these representatives to eliminate overlap.

• The Small Business Protection Act, sponsored by Small Business Committee members Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., would redefine size standards to better match the type of products and services provided by the contractor, as defined by the North American Industry Classification System.

As an example for why such a change is needed, the Small Business Administration recently recommended that small architectural firms be defined as $4.5 million to $7 million in revenue. However, because the existing categories group architects with engineers, the latter of which often bring in higher revenue, the SBA proposed increasing the standard to $19 million. That size standard would include 97.8 percent of all architecture firms, thereby allowing large businesses to compete as if they were small businesses, according to information provided by a committee staffer.

• The Building Better Business Partnerships Act, sponsored by Small Business Committee members Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., and Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., would allow the SBA to oversee all civilian agency mentor-protégé programs — of which there are 13, according to the committee — to ensure they properly benefit small businesses. It would also expand the mentor-protégé programs to all small businesses, and not just those that that belong to certain small business categories.

These are the latest bills to tackle what some perceive to be shortcomings in the government’s program to ensure contracting opportunities to small businesses. Other bills focused on contracting fraud and unfair insourcing decisions by agencies, as well as failure by agencies to meet small business contracting goals.

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