government marketing

Meet the Team: Steve Griffin, Contracts Specialist

StephenGriffin200Arrowhead Solutions would like to introduce and welcome  a new team member, Steve Griffin. Steve, PhD, joined Arrowhead Solutions in February 2014 and brings with him over 32 years of experience in Federal Government contracting.

Mr. Griffin has worked a wide variety of contracts types involving acquisition of supplies, services, research, weapons development and testing, and managed healthcare.  In his career, Steve has worked for, worked as a contractor employee providing support to, or worked for firms contracting with the Federal Government.

Steve started his career in contracting in 1981 as a contracts intern with the U. S. Air Force at Luke Air Force.  In 1983 the Air Force moved him to Nellis AFB, and from there he moved to the China Lake facility of the Naval Air Warfare Center in 1985, where he worked until 1992.  In 1992, Steve moved to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as a subcontract administrator.  From 1994 until 1996 he worked for a small disadvantaged business which held a number of contracts with the FAA for asbestos inspection and monitoring as the manager of contracts at its Denver area office.  From 1996 until 1998 Steve worked for an environmental engineering firm that held contracts with the EPA, Corps of Engineers, the U. S. Forest Service, and other Federal agencies.  In 1998 Steve moved on to a contract administrator position with a firm supporting the contracting operations of the DoD TRICARE program, and in 1999 he returned to the Government with TRICARE as a contract administrator working a number of contracts to acquire healthcare services for active duty military, their family members, and military retirees.  In 2000 Steve was appointed a contracting officer at TRICARE, and was responsible for the administration of five different regional healthcare services contracts over his time as a contracting officer at TRICARE.  In 2006 Steve left TRICARE and contracting to pursue a PhD.  During his time completing his degree program, Steve provided contracting advice and assistance to a firm that held healthcare administration contract with the DoD and the VA.  From February 2013 through January 2014 Steve worked as a contract specialist as an employee of the firm providing support to the GSA, Region 8 FAS office in Lakewood, Colorado working a number of service contracts and task orders.  With the end of his work at GSA, Steve joined Arrowhead Solutions.

Steve holds a BS in Natural Resource Management degree, a Master of Applied Communication degree, and a PhD in Communication Studies degree.   He received a DAWIA Level III certification while with TRICARE, and earned a graduate certificate in ADR from the University of Denver while completing his master’s degree.

How can Stephen and Arrowhead assist your business?

STOP – Don’t pay for SAM Assistance or Registration. Why? It’s FREE and EASY!

Let’s debug this common urban legend of government contracting: Someone tells you have to pay for a “service” in order to register your company with SAM.gov OR you have tocon-artist-alert pay for someone to update your entity’s registration.

So, you’re a government contractor, or you’re wanting to become one. You ask around, “What do I do first?” The responses are muddled, you do some Googling, then you start to really notice the emails offering services to set up or update your registration. WAIT – WHAT?! Services?? I have to pay for this?? The long and short answer: NO

You should never, ever in a million years have to pay for these “services” the emails claim to offer – EVER! The SAM registration takes about 15 minutes to complete, and any updates to it take less than 5 (honestly – it’s that easy)

Be aware of these other “offers” and how the issues can be addressed for free:

1) Year Long Technical “Support”
  • Updates are only as necessary, and often times SAM.gov only needs to be reviewed once a year
  • There is no “support” required
2) SAM.gov Migration Annual Updates
  • Migration happens once; Most likely all government contractors who have registered in the old CCR have already been migrated
3) FAR Updates (if necessary)
  • SAM.gov DOES NOT provide FAR updates!
  • During the annual update of the entity registration, these are already incorporated
4) Basic Changes to Registration (NAICS codes, contact info., contracts awarded, etc.)
  • This is a part of the basic updating
  • Takes 5 minutes!
5) Government Buyer Submission
  • Only if offering disaster response
  • One page within SAM.gov
  • Takes 30 seconds to complete!
6) Verification of Dun & Bradstreet Number (required)
  • Can be done by logging into iUpdate
  • If it is needed, you will be directed after SAM.gov login
7) SAM Registration Completion
  • This is a 15 minute process
  • Can be done for free! (or divide the completing person’s rate by the time it takes – that’s really the cost; just a few dollars of opportunity cost)
8) Verified Vendor Seal of Approval
  • BEWARE – THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT RECOGNIZE THIS “SEAL”!
So, all in all it may take one person a total of maybe, maybe 25 minutes PER YEAR to either register or update SAM.gov. Now, unless you are paying your employees an exorbitant salary, isn’t 25 minutes much more affordable than the approximately $600 price tag companies out there are charging? I’m not an economics specialist by any means, but I think I’ll go with the 25 minutes, and I hope you do the same.

Still need help? Check out Arrowhead Solutions – we’ll lead you in the right direction with a FREE 30-minute consultation. We don’t like to be scammed, and we definitely don’t want our clients to deal with these “support” claims either.

 

Meet the team! Carrie Grigg – Contracts Specialist

New Team Member Spotlight: Carrie Grigg

ProfilePicGrigg

Carrie joins Arrowhead Solutions,LLC as a Government Contracts Specialist.  She brings ten years of experience in contract management and business development in diverse fields including IT, A/E/C, bioscience and energy.  While specializing in federal and state government contracts, Carrie collaborates with partners and clients to identify strategic contract opportunities, write proposals, improve business processes, and is passionate about creating a positive customer interaction.  In addition to assisting companies win government contracts, Carrie’s interests include writing, painting and exploring the use of social media to obtain customer feedback and build relationships.  Carrie holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Virginia.

Visit Arrowhead on the web to see what our government contract specialists can do for your small business.

Part 4 of 4 – You are now Ready for Government Contracting! Go Get ‘Em!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re have posted 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Time for the drumroll as we share our last set (for now)…5-years

This week’s post: Government Contracting Tips and Tricks
Part 4 – And not to forget…

#16: Analyze your approach to government marketing. Need help with strategy?

#17: Know your nicheWhy?Trust us – it’s most important in determining direction of efforts.

#18: Know your resources. Did you know you can go to your local Business Development Center and the SBA for resources?

#19: Make sure to reach out to past teammates regularly. Ask about new opportunities.

#20: Don’t get discouraged! The government contracting cycle is LONG. The effort to go after a contract can be exhausting. However, heading the previous 19 tips will really help you become a successful government contractor. As, always, feel free to contact Arrowhead Solutions. Now, go get ’em!

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

Thanks for tuning in! All of these tips will “live” here on our blog for quite some time. We look forward to many more years to come and helping out small businesses in any way that we can.

CHEERS!

Part 2 of 4: Government and Marketing

ImageFive Years; time to give back to our wonderful readers! Part 2 of 4: Marketing to the Government

As Arrowhead celebrates our 5th anniversary, we realize that we could not have done it without all the support from you – our readers and clients!

To give back, we’d like to share some government contracting tips and tricks so that you can be the best government contractor possible. Each week, throughout the month of March, we’re going to be posting 5 tips to celebrate 5 years. Cheers!

This week’s post: Government Contracting Tips and Tricks
Part 2 – Marketing to the Government Customer

#6: Update your capability statement. Don’t have one? Get one ASAP.

#7: List the services your company can provide directly on your website.

#8: Do your research: Who’s buying? Who are the competition? How can you compete?

#9: Utilize Sources sought, advance notices and RFI’s to become more visible.

#10: Don’t get scammed! Although sometimes helpful, GSA Schedules aren’t always necessary! There are numerous ways to increase your buying power through networking and public opportunity sites. Beware of anyone asking for an upfront fee, or for a percentage of sales.

Don’t forget to follow Arrowhead Solutions on Twitter (@arrowheadllc) for daily tips, too!

See you next week!

 
 

Press Release: Arrowhead Solutions, LLC Celebrates Five Years of Continued Growth

Boulder, CO (March 3, 2014) – Stephanie Mueller Amend, Founder of the boutique consulting firm, Arrowhead Solutions, LLC, announces the company’s five-year anniversary. With specialties in supporting small businesses with the processes and cycles relating to government proposals, GSA Schedules, contracts, accounting, compliance and marketing to the government, .  Arrowhead continues to experience significant revenue growth year over year. Focusing on quality and effectiveness differentiates Arrowhead as a top-rated, government contractor consulting firm. Positive reviews of Arrowhead from current clients are well documented, and continue to lead to the company’s growth supporting clients from coast to coast. Diversification into commercial support for clients and placing emphasis on strengthening client marketing efforts has allowed Arrowhead continued success; even as a recession, funding cuts, government shutdowns, and sequestration nearly paralyzed the industry of government contracting.

Marching with the rhythms of the government has been one key to Arrowhead’s continued success. Slow periods in government spending translate to “focus time” for Arrowhead clients’, as well all Arrowhead’s own, business development; hence the birth of the ArrowBD service and addition of the government marketing division of the business in 2013. Arrowhead’s next major advance, coming in 2014, will continue to propel Arrowhead and their clients forward for years to come.

About Arrowhead Solutions:

Arrowhead Solutions, LLC has been serving Boulder, Colorado area, the Denver Metro area, and clients across the nation since 2009. Stephanie Mueller Amend, founded Arrowhead after seeing a need for assistance in the small-business government contracting arena. Five years later, Arrowhead has fostered the ability to assist in every area of government contracting and grown to support a diverse roster of clients nationwide. For additional information about Arrowhead Solutions, LLC call 303-515-0527, email Lindsy Bentz, l.bentz@arrowheadsolutionsllc.com, or visit the website at: www.arrowheadsolutionsllc.com.

5 New Year’s Resolutions for Freshman Government Contractors:

ImageYes, the government has been in 2014 for three months already now, but with the shutdown and the holidays, it seems that we’re all finally ready for 2014 to really start tomorrow. I began to think about what newer government contractors can resolve to do this year in order to make it a successful 2014. The theme turned out to be Patient Investment. So, resolve to be successful in 2014 and read on:

  1. Don’t fall for a scam. For some reason I am seeing more and more spams, scams and sketch artists all of a sudden.  I have clients sending me multiple emails a day asking “is this real”? No, it probably isn’t. I just read a LinkedIn post about a deft scammer and I am getting quite a bit of spam in my inbox trying to sell me services that don’t sound quite right. Trust your intuition. If you get an official-type looking email out of the blue regarding your sam.gov registration, if you get a call claiming you can win no-bid contracts, if you are told you need a GSA Schedule to do business with the government, or that your government registration is incomplete (among a myriad of other “sells”), know that it is probably something to avoid. Your name was probably mined, sold and now out on the market for fly-by night companies and consultants to prey upon.  Look to legitimate, well-established, and qualified companies / consultants that don’t stalk you down with slick unsolicited help. You will save a lot of money and avoid being burned.
  2. Invest in your future customers. It is rare that a good contract will be won out of the blue.  Winning government contracts takes time, and yes, money.  But, it doesn’t have to take too much of your time or your money if you approach the contract correctly. Finding which agencies are buying your products and services, who they are currently buying from, and how the agencies are buying is key. Without that baseline, you’re just shooting in the dark.  Build a targeted marketing plan towards your selected agencies. Find the right folks, get your marketing materials in order, ensure you have a representative getting you out there and keeping you out there.  Make contacts, team up, and keep your finger on the pulse. Be careful in who you target, how and when.  You can easily go down the wrong side of the road and not realize it. Being reactive is not an option for newer contractors. Being proactive is not necessarily free, but it is an investment, and a very worthy one to say the least.
  3. Educate yourself. Aim to become government contract (“govcon” in this world’s speak) savvy. This resolution actually is a thread through the other resolutions in this post.  If you are a newer government contractor, you will soon realize the government contracts world doesn’t really operate exactly like your commercial world.  Marketing, proposals, negotiations, contracts, accounting, and compliance all have spins about them of which you MUST be aware.  Without some education and guidance, you will (not may, but “will”) wander into dangerous territory.  It is a sneaky thing, too because you won’t really know you wandered into that territory until years have passed.  The government moves slow, and so do ramifications of not knowing government nuances.  Make sure you understand the government’s procurement process, the expectations for marketing and outreach, what the government is looking for, what clauses say and mean, and what being a government contractor may change in your operational processes and procedures.  Don’t learn the hard way; learn safe way.
  4. Team up.  The best way to get your foot in the door is to find an experienced teammate. Not only will you have more exposure to the government at less cost (think lower bid and proposal costs, easy name promotion, etc.), but you can learn tons of valuable insight and information from your teammates. They (hopefully) have been around the block in your competitive arena.  Sharing the costs, time and the effort of supporting a government requirement is a great way to slowly and safely graduate from a freshman government contractor.  Don’t be shy about being a prime contractor, either. You can bring a large government contractor under you as a subcontractor and they can help you just as much as if the roles were reversed. Many large businesses are happy to be a sub to a small business since they want to work projects that may have been set aside only for a small business. Network with companies who are both similar to yours as well as those companies that have complimentary offerings. The government is looking for solutions; maybe your offering is a tiny slice of a bigger solution – find your team and then you find the government’s solution.
  5. Keep the faith. Sometimes government wins pop out of the blue, but most times it is a very (very) long pipeline. This pipeline requires patience and diligence. However, the long road is definitely worth the wait.  I hear the phrase, “Once you’re in, you’re in.” I probably have to agree with that statement.  Working on resolutions 1-4 above will all lead you to getting “in” and 2014 is looking like a good year; don’t be left out!

Still have more questions? Call or email Arrowhead Solutions, and we’ll share with you our insight on how to most successfully navigate 2014. Consultations are 30 minutes and completely gratis!

Ph: 720-515-0527 or info@arrowheadsolutionsllc.com

Want to subscribe to our quarterly (yes, quarterly – we don’t like spam either) newsletter Just sign up here or copy and paste this link into your browser:  https://app.getresponse.com/site/arrowhead_qtrly_newsletter/webform.html?wid=425646

Image

Introducing ArrowBD – The Complete Government Contracting Solution

Image

It’s finally here, and tailored for small business government contractors! A complete contract opportunity solution, ArrowBD matches the most current contracting opportunities to your specific niche. One simple, easy-to-read weekly email, and access to your own, well-seasoned Account Analyst, will allow you to feel confident that you will never miss that next big opportunity. Because ArrowBD is backed by the experts at Arrowhead Soltuions, LLC you can be sure that your spending your BD budget intelligently.

Simple. Easy. Opportunity. 

With ArrowBD, you can spend your resources and time on the pursuit of the opportunity itself, or in many cases, opportunities, highlighted by your ArrowBD report (AKA: “push”). You no longer have to spend hours looking through multiple search agents and opportunity tracking sites. We take the burden completely away, and present you with one email, once a week. This removes all the inbox-clutter from daily tracking agents that return results not typically fit for your business. The opportunities received in your weekly ArrowBD “push” are hand-picked by a designated Account Analyst, so you can rest assured that they are a “perfect fit” for your company. The Account Analyst will set up your subscription after just one quick phone call; then, you pick the date on which to receive your opportunities in your inbox in one, clean PDF. We can track based upon NAICS codes, keywords, departments with which you wish to work, and even help you with teaming efforts.

ArrowBD also sets itself apart from other government opportunity search applications currently on the market due to is unique customization options and affordability. The Foundation package (the base: opportunity, news, and events package) can be tailored to add market analysis, capabilities statement creation, the management of other search platforms, custom insights/advice, and more. See the Pricing page for more information on customization options.

ArrowBD was developed out of necessity. Often times, small businesses lack the BD budget of their much larger competitors. How can you get ahead of the competition when you’re going against a large company with a dedicated BD department or assigned contract analyst? Access to your own Account Analyst is included with a subscription of ArrowBD. Don’t worry about waiting to hear back from an “automated” or generic email address that may have more than one person answering when you have time-sensitive questions. With ArrowBD, you can be sure that a seasoned professional is providing you with relevant, accurate information – fast.

News and information are the key to remaining “in the know” when it comes to new opportunities; especially as we move into the fast-paced end of Q4 of 2013. There are sure to be, and have been, many contracts up for grabs. Even with sequestration, the government still plans on spending relevant amounts on small business set-aside projects. With ArrowBD, you can be sure that you are always on top of these new opportunities. Industry day notices, sources sought, requests-for-information (RFIs) – all are delivered in your weekly ArrowBD report when announced.

More questions? We’ve prepared some FAQs – make the right decision – enlist in ArrowBD and feel confident in your pursuit. Feel free to contact us, as well, if you have any other questions related to ArrowBD, or any questions about Arrowhead Solutions full suite of government contract services.

What is your Niche? Narrowing Down What you can do for the Government Customer

arrow and dollarAs you probably already know, there is quite a bit of competition in the government marketplace.  Even among the “small business” set-asides, thousands of companies could potentially go after the same exact opportunities.   It is true that many companies find success by hiring ex-government officials to go off and schmooze the customer and track leads likes blood hounds on a full time basis.  It is also true that many (if not the majority) of very small businesses cannot afford to have such a person or even a generic business development person building key relationships with government customers that will steer contracts their way.

So, what is a small business to do?  Find your niche.  If you have ever read a government statement of work, you may have realized how specific they can be.  The government often knows EXACTLY what type of contractor they’re looking for.  Check out this recent FBO.gov posting from GSA. This is a 100% Woman-Owned Set-Aside requirements list:

The contracted evaluator must have the following skills and/or knowledge:

• Utilize the OIG’s AutoAudit software to document evaluation efforts;
• Utilize Corporation’s information technology (IT) systems (Momentum, MyAmeriCorps Portal, eGrants, and eSPAN) and government-wide IT systems (Payment Management System [housed by the Department of Health and Human Services] and Federal Audit Clearinghouse Database, including Image Management System [housed by the Census Bureau]) to assist evaluation work;
• Operational knowledge of Corporation’s unique grants, including experience in special VISTA grant provisions;
• Working knowledge of the Corporation’s IPERA efforts;
• Understand the Corporation’s internal control environment;
• Knowledgeable of the Single Audit Roundtable; and
• Knowledgeable of the Corporation’s audit resolution processes.

You may say, “Ok, this has got to be geared for a specific contractor.” That may be true, but why would the government want to go with that specific contractor? Because they have a skill set that is so specific to GSA’s needs and GSA wants them!   Every bullet above is a niche, on top of the icing niche on the cake, 100% WOSB set-aside.

So often I work with clients and I ask them to tell me about their business, what they do and what they can do for the government?  Often I hear “we do IT services”, or “we have like research and development”, or something along those lines. Yes, I understand you are just chatting with me and not your government customer, but I also need to know what your niche is, that way I can help you get to the right customer.  The government is BIG, there are lots of contractors, and there is lots of work to be done. So where do you fit?

Improve your messaging to find your fit and to sell your fit. A few of the many questions to ask yourself:

  • What is your company really good at?
  • What unique skill sets do you have?
  • Why are your different than the next guy?

For example: Instead of “Our company provides IT Services”, say, “Our company solves the high risk problem of cybersecurity with engineers experienced in building and maintain defensive networks.”

Have a person familiar with the marketplace review your answers to the questions above with you.  You may think you are communicating sufficiently, but only someone else can really tell you if you have honed your message.

By identifying your niche you are able to pinpoint a) your target customer and b) communicate to your target customer exactly what you can do to support them. You may have a couple of niches, that is great, use them with the right audiences, not all audiences at once.  Take some time to really think hard about what makes your company different than the rest; finding, then communicating your niche will only help in today’s environment.

In the next article, we’ll talk about marketing to your niche. Stay tuned!

Be Heard by the Government Using Sources Sought and RFI’s

It is that time of year, we’re about halfway into Q1 of Fiscal Year 2013 when the holidays (read : time off for federal employees), budgets, and, this year, sequestration, all impact government spending.  Many people think this is a slow time of year, which it can be, but your company can take advantage of Q1 to set course for the remainder of the year.

Right now is the time to reach out and be known.  Requests for Information (RFI’s) and Sources Sought are bubbling up through FBO.gov daily.  Although responding to these requests is not mandatory, not responding to these requests could hurt your future chances.  Per FAR 10.001(a)(2), agencies must conduct market research:

i) Before developing new requirements documents for an acquisition by that agency;

(ii) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions with an estimated value in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold;

(iii) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions with an estimated value less than the simplified acquisition threshold when adequate information is not available and the circumstances justify its cost;

(iv) Before soliciting offers for acquisitions that could lead to a bundled contract (15 U.S.C. 644(e)(2)(A));

(v) Before awarding a task or delivery order under an indefinite-delivery-indefinite-quantity (ID/IQ) contract (e.g., GWACs, MACs) for a noncommercial item in excess of the simplified acquisition threshold (10 U.S.C. 2377(c)); and

(vi) On an ongoing basis, take advantage (to the maximum extent practicable) of commercially available market research methods in order to effectively identify the capabilities of small businesses and new entrants into Federal contracting, that are available in the marketplace for meeting the requirements of the agency in furtherance of—

(A) A contingency operation or defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack; and

(B) Disaster relief to include debris removal, distribution of supplies, reconstruction, and other disaster or emergency relief activities. (See 26.205).

In addition, agencies are seeing more benefit in gathering industry input prior to releasing a solicitation.  So agencies are using RFIs and Sources Sought even outside the required FAR situations.

Providing timely, and informative responses to the government helps your company in the long run for a number of reasons:

1) You have the ability to present your company and capabilities directly to the CO – This is great because unsolicited proposals or cold calling CO’s is typically not the way to make friends with them.

2) You have the opportunity to provide input, as the expert in your industry, towards the future solicitation – Your professional input provides a better chance that when the solicitation is released, it will make more sense from an industry perspective and will be easier to respond to.

3) You are allowed a more open dialogue with the acquisition team during this time- Your company can make more personable connections with decision makers and requirements developers and those connection can go a long way.

By missing the opportunity to respond to the government’s market research, you are missing an opportunity to connect.  It is well-known among industry and government that winning proposals out of the blue is rare and difficult.  The winners are those that invest the time AHEAD of the solicitation’s release and jumping on those FBO RFIs and Sources Sought is a simple and easy investment to make.