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Last Update: Wednesday February 21, 2018

Key Idea: Do the work for the Government. Do it Faster - Cheaper - Better. Be Patrotic.

Scott Denniston of the Department of Veterans Affairs says that there is help for veterans who want to start and grow a business.  Dave Young (Oberon) and Joe Fergus (COMTek) comment.  More...

Key Question:

A: 

Consider doing business with the world's largest customer -- the United Stated federal government.

We have been paying attention to this segment since we attended our first SBA (Small Business Administration)  annual meeting in May of 1983 and  we lived in Washington D.C. in 1995.  During that year we saw with our own eyes how this whole world operates and it is very different from the private sector.

Everything you read about pork-barrel spending and the lobby-driven congress, sadly, is true.  There are forces pushing the government to do more, spend more and thus buy more.  This does increase opportunity and small companies can and always will deliver goods and services to the government much more efficiently than do big companies.

Joe Fergus tells it like it is.  He says it is nearly impossible to do business with the government and at the same time do business in the private sector.  His company has, at the time of this writing, more than $60 million in annual sales so I feel confident we can trust him.  He started at zero with a dream and you can see him now for yourself.

While our team here at Small Business School is far removed from life and work in D.C., the hard fact is that to land government contracts takes some magic.  Joe met the right person at the right time and landed a big job which got him going.  He performed well and has kept his first government contract, renewing it every year since 1991.

Mark Gross who is seen in other sections of this episode went to the web site of the Department of Veterans Affairs, vetbiz.gov, where he got some information which led to personal contacts which led to his first government contract.

Use the web to search out opportunities, check out SAIC's mentor program for small business, find owners who are already doing business with the government to advise you and don't forget city, county and state work.  Hattie has a girlfriend who puts the white and yellow stripes on the highways in Southern California.  The work is there but it is not easy to win.

Think about it

What federal government work is done in your local community?  For example, Huntsville, Alabama has NASA.  Who do you know who works in any government job?  What owners do you know who already do work for the government?  Would you be willing to reinvent your business to accommodate the complexities of doing business with any government entity?

Clip from: Veterans Think Big

Let us celebrate and honor the contributions of our veterans. 

Washington, DC and the nation:  Defenders of freedom. Patriots.  Veterans.   These people come from every part of society and from every corner of the nation.  They get special training and they serve their country.  Some enter combat and some get injured. In one way or another, they all come home,  and are discharged or retire from the military.  Many join the workforce and begin re-creating their life with the special honors and experiences of being in the US military.

Meet four veterans who came home and started a business and each of them has become enormously successful.  They have all been creating jobs for many years now and are all highly respected within their industry.

In this episode of the show they each tell how they started companies to provide services to the military.   They explain that doing business with the federal government is different than selling goods and services to the private sector. 

All three have fast-growing businesses that range from $26 million to $70 million in annual sales.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs

Scott Denniston, Director of Office of Small Business

Visit our web site: http://www.va.gov/osdbu

Business Classification:
governement

Year Founded:

Do the work for the Government. Do it Faster - Cheaper - Better. Be Patrotic.

VOICEOVER:  All of these companies have found success in doing business with the world’s biggest customer, the US government.  The Department of Veterans Affairs helps smooth the way.

SCOTT DENNISTON:  Primarily we help all small businesses that want to sell goods and services to the department so that we can provide all the products and the benefits that we do to the veteran community.  The second group, the Center for Veterans Enterprise works with veterans and service disabled veteran business owners who want to break into the federal marketplace either directly with a large business as a sub contractor or directly to the federal agencies as a prime contractor to the government.

DAVE YOUNG (Oberon):    I think the real secret for us is a lot of small companies in the federal services business I think are formed by people that perhaps retire out of one of the military services and the government has programs as I think you’re well aware that set aside amounts of contract work for veteran owned companies or things like that and I think a lot of people think that it is going to be easy because there’s an amount that’s being set aside.  They think 'I’ll form this company,  I’ll start getting contracts and I’ll prosper.' But they don’t know anything about the business. 

In Jodi’s and my case I’ve been in this business 33 years.  I started at Mistech in January of ’75 so I just had my 33rd anniversary being in the business.  Jodi and I have worked together for 22 years and she’s been in the business 22 years. 

So Oberon, it’s a new company but it’s not new for us.  And all the things we have been talking about.  This is a very complicated business we’re in. 

SCOTT:  You can’t be successful in the federal marketplace if you aren’t established and you don’t have a track record.  So, we need to have people that have track records before we can actually help them.

JOE FERGUS (COMTek):    It is different in many respects from the commercial marketplace.  However, it is a learned art and profession to be in.  The sales cycle is very different from that of the commercial sector.  So once you get an understanding of the differences then one has a choice as to which way they want to play.  Very rarely do you find anyone who is really good at both.  Usually you get people who are good at one or the other.  They’re just two different environments.  But, yes it is particularly daunting at times to operate in the federal space.

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