2017: A Banner Year for WIPP & Women Business Owners

WIPP was busy this year educating policymakers, women business owners, the media and the public about what women business owners need to succeed. From bringing women entrepreneurs directly to some of the most powerful lawmakers in the country, to meeting women entrepreneurs where they live and do business to educate them on how to bolster their businesses, WIPP was at the forefront of issues impacting women in business in 2017.

A sampling of our (many) accomplishments are highlighted below:

Educating Thousands of Women Business Owners Nationwide

  • WIPP held 12 ChallengeHER events in cities across the country, training more than 2,100 women on the best practices for success in federal contracting; including 5 match making events with federal agencies and primes.  WIPP has educated more than 10,000 attendees through its classes that range from those who are new to the process to those highly experienced. Learn more about ChallengeHER, and read about some of the success stories that have come out of the program.
  • WIPP produced 30 Give Me 5 training webinars increasing the free, on-line curriculum to approximately 120 downloadable recordings.  Reaching over 3,000 people this year, these training webinars were taught by industry specialist and federal contracting experts.
  • More than 200 women business owners joined WIPP and Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers for a discussion on venture funding and women owned small business. The discussion explored how to encourage venture capital investment in women, the process of lending for SBICs, and how women business owners can approach venture capitalists.

Impacting Policy at the Highest Levels

  • The president signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law, which includes a provision directing the Small Business Administration to study small business participation on Multiple Award Contracts. The SBA study is in response to a WIPP report revealing that women small business owners are being shut out of large government contracts. Learn more about WIPP’s study.
  • WIPP surveyed 515 WIPP-affiliated women business owners nationwide on how they use the tax code and worked with American University’s Kogod Tax Policy Center to use the survey data to research how the tax code impacts women business owners. The survey data – together with Kogod’s review of existing tax research on the topic – suggests that many women-owned companies are unable to fully access more than $255 billion worth of tax incentives Congress has designed to help small businesses. The study was picked up exclusively by the Associated Press and was featured in hundreds of papers across the country. Learn more about the report in an op-ed WIPP President Jane Campbell authored in Entrepreneur magazine.
  • WIPP brought women business owners to Washington to testify at tax hearings and help inform the framework for the House Small Business agenda.
  • WIPP’s Economic Blueprint, which outlines a range of economic policy recommendations lawmakers can follow to help women entrepreneurs thrive, was featured in Forbes. Read WIPP President Jane Campbell’s op-ed outlining WIPP’s Economic Blueprint in The Hill.
  • WIPP secured powerful politicians to speak at WIPP’s annual conference so they could hear directly from women business owners on what they want out of Washington. Lawmakers included House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), House and Senate small business committee tax experts and Senate Small Business Committee leadership.
  • WIPP’s advocacy efforts throughout the tax reform debate—which included submitting comments to the Senate Finance Committee urging parity for pass through entities and repeal of the estate and AMT taxes—were instrumental in securing a pass-through carve out, along with the agreement to double the estate tax exemption from the current $5.6 million per individual to $11.2 million ($22 million for couples). WIPP members authored op-eds, letters to the editor and did interviews with reporters on the issue to ensure the women-owned business perspective was breaking through.
  • WIPP’s advocacy team worked to maintain funding for programs important to WIPP, such as the Women’s Business Centers, microloan lending programs and more.
  • WIPP submitted testimony to Congress and statements to the media urging stability of the small business health insurance marketplaces and that Congress keep in place a pooling mechanism for small businesses to buy health insurance.
  • WIPP encouraged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to support the implementation of Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act requiring financial institutions to gather and report data on small business lending, including applications made by women and minority owners. Read our press statement and our comments to the CFPB.
  • WIPP supported the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.
  • WIPP was mentioned in more than 60 news articles in 2017, ensuring the women business owner perspective was heard throughout national debates around tax reform, the federal budget, entrepreneurship and more. We had articles in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Financial Times, The Hill newspaper, The Atlantic, the Business Journals, Reuters, the Associated Press, Morning Consult, Bloomberg, the Chicago Tribune, NBC and many more.

Supporting Small Businesses on Small Business Saturday

  • 2017 saw record support from business organizations through the Small Business Saturday Coalition, the national grassroots initiative that WIPP leads to promote Small Business Saturday, with more than 575 organizations nationwide supporting small businesses on Small Business Saturday—an 18% increase over previous years.
  • Organizations WIPP engaged to support Small Business Saturday included the National Retail Federation, Association of Women’s Business Centers, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and SCORE, as did local organizations such as the Chicago Public Library, San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Iowa and many, many others.
  • WIPP’s leadership around the Small Business Saturday Coalition was instrumental in promoting 7,200 events and activities celebrating Small Business Saturday nationwide, engaging more than 2.2 million small businesses.
  • The Coalition secured 653 mayoral proclamations in support of Small Business Saturday nationwide and ensure numerous public service announcements were issued promoting the day.
  • WIPP secured passage of a Senate Resolution designating Small Business Saturday and introduction of House Resolution and engaged 240 Members of Congress in Small Business Saturday activities.

News You Need to Know: December 2017

Emily Murphy

Longtime WIPP friend Emily Murphy, right, was sworn in as GSA administrator this week. She’s pictured here with WIPP Chief Advocate Ann Sullivan at the ceremony.

Longtime WIPP Friend Emily Murphy Sworn in as GSA Administrator

Longtime WIPP friend Emily Murphy, was sworn in as the 41st administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA) this week. Murphy’s Senate confirmation was strongly bipartisan, with leaders on both sides of the aisle praising her experience, qualifications and commitment to public service. The Senate’s unanimous consent decision came after Murphy’s confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, where she discussed her key priorities and vision for advancing the agency. Murphy will lead a workforce of 11,600 full-time employees and oversee approximately $54 billion in annual contracts.

“I look forward to working with our partners in industry, customer agencies, and Congress so that GSA can continue to fulfill its mission of providing the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people,” Murphy said last month.

Deadline to Apply for 2018 Health Coverage Friday

The final deadline to apply for 2018 health coverage at HealthCare.gov is this Friday, Dec. 15. Visit www.HealthCare.gov now to apply. You can also find a host of nonpartisan information about health coverage costs, requirements and options on the Kaiser Family Foundation website.

Burdensome Regulations

The SBA Office of Advocacy is asking for input on burdensome regulations as part of the office’s Regulatory Reform Efforts. You may fill out the form at www.sba.gov/advocacy. You don’t have to an expert to comment. The office is seeking to engage small business owners on their everyday pain points with respect to federal com

How Government Contractors Can Handle Changes to the Project Schedule

If you missed Misty Mayes’ GIVE ME 5 webinar last week on Changes to the Project Schedule, you can check it out here.

The Give Me 5 Program, named after the 5 percent federal contracting goal for women-owned businesses, was created by Women Impacting Public Policy

Misty Mayes

and American Express OPEN to educate women business owners on how to apply for and secure federal procurement opportunities. 

Management Solutions’ founder and CEO Misty Mayes dedicates her time and energy to multiple programs that champion excellence in project management, small business, mentoring and community. She is a regular on the speaking circuit across the country, speaking on various aspects of project management, as well as other motivational topics. Misty serves as co-chair on WIPP’s Leadership Advisory Council, co-chair of WIPP’s healthcare committee and chair of WIPP’s membership committee.

For more information on Misty and her work at Management Solutions, please visit www.managementsolutionsllc.com. 

WIPP’s NSBW Photo Contest Runner-Up, Rockin’ Bakers, Offers a ‘Breaducation’

A veteran of the consumer packaged goods industry, Daymara Baker had a vision for creating a business that puts a social mission above profit. Founded two years ago, Rockin’ Baker Academy in Fayetteville, Ark., serves up tasty treats while providing a “

RockinBakers.jpg

Founded two years ago, Rockin’ Baker Academy in Fayetteville, Ark., serves up tasty treats while providing a “breaducation” for workers who have a hard time entering the job market due to poverty, intellectual disabilities, or other disadvantages.  The entrepreneurial nonprofit provides training on food safety and baking, as well as “soft skills” such as teamwork, accountability, communications and customer service. Rockin’ Baker Academy was runner-up in Women Impacting Public Policy’s photo contest for National Small Business Week this spring.

“I wanted to do something that would sell but that also would be welcomed by the community,” Daymara said. “There needed to be a place for people who have a hard time finding a job and needed a second chance.”

 

Daymara founded a 501c3 nonprofit organization and a 501c4 public-benefit corporation that funnels proceeds from the bakery to the nonprofit. The 501c4 organization allowed her to seek a small-business loan to jumpstart the project, which opened with a storefront in November 2016. After just eight months in operation, Rockin Baker has three full-time employees, one part-time worker and a volunteer.

Beyond her enterprising spirit, Daymara said being a woman has contributed to her success in opening a socially minded business. “As women, we have a higher level of empathy,” she said. “By nature, we are more emotionally connected to what we are trying to achieve.”

Because the academy is a virtually unheard-of concept locally, Daymara said the bakery is developing a loyal customer base that not only eats, but donates. The project also has expanded to offer over-the-counter breakfast and lunch goods.

“When they learn why I am doing this and that we are not just a bakery, they are feeling good about themselves because they are helping somebody else,” she said.

For more information, visit rockinbakeracademy.org.

WIPP July Partner of the Month: Pam Mazza

Pam Mazza, managing partner of PilieroMazza PLLC in Washington, D.C., serves on WIPP’s board of directors and has been a strong supporter of the organization for years through her leadership and generous contributions of time and fiscal support. Pam is one of WIPP’s inaugural “Trailblazers,” a group of women who contributed $10,000 to support our education and advocacy work in Washington, D.C. on behalf of women business owners

It’s thanks to people like Pam that WIPP thrives. Thank you, Pam!

 

Q Tell us a little about your company and its mission.

A PilieroMazza is a full-service, woman- owned law firm in Washington D.C. working primarily with government contractors nationwide. Our principle practice areas include labor and employment law, general corporate counselling, litigation and all aspects of government contracting including a strong understanding of small business and socio-economic programs. We are committed to keeping our clients abreast of pending legislation, regulations or case law that might impact the operations of their businesses, and to working with clients to apprise lawmakers and regulators of the potential impact of any proposed changes. Our goal is to help our clients nurture and grow their businesses and to build long-lasting, personal relationships.  We do our best not only to identify issues and obstacles but to develop practical, cost-effective approaches to overcoming them. We pride ourselves in being accessible, affordable and efficient in assisting with our clients’ needs.

Q Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what inspired you to take the leap? 

A I grew up in this firm. I was a law clerk, an associate, then a junior partner. Shortly after I became a junior partner, the managing partner and rainmaker of the firm, Dan Piliero, passed away suddenly at the age of 48 and I had a decision to make about the future of the firm. Lawyers are supposed to have their ducks in a row, but since I had just become a junior partner, we didn’t have an agreement covering this situation. It was a stressful time but after weighing the options and working with his estate, I was able to buy the firm.  That was in 1991. The short answer is I was young at the time and hadn’t thought that far ahead about what I would ultimately do. But I quickly became an entrepreneur and I’ve been sitting in this chair ever since!

Q What challenges did you encounter that you had to overcome as a business woman and what have you learned from them?

A  I think that as the years go by, the challenges are fewer and fewer because of the reputation we’ve developed. But back when I took over the practice, I did have a very big concern: the controlling person at a lot of the companies we represented was a male and I didn’t know how they were going to react to me taking over. Would they stay or leave? I was fortunate because though a few moved on, many stayed.

I feel like I have probably had a better experience than many women I know. I see the challenges my woman-owned business clients face. Depending on the industry, it can be very hard for women in government contracting to break in. Many industries and agencies still function under the good-old-boy system and it’s hard for a woman entrepreneur to get her foot in the door. I see women struggling for recognition of their talents; struggling to have people look past their gender and consider their technical capabilities.

I think there also might be challenges when you look at the differences between males and females in leadership roles. A tough male boss is viewed as a solid taskmaster, but if you have that same personality as a female you’re viewed differently. We’ve got to continue to figure out how to co-exist.

I think my main advice is probably to keep pushing through, get your job done, don’t get wrapped up in the prejudices and figure out how to work around them.

Q Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it.

A I’m really proud of the law firm we’ve built and I think the firm is my biggest success. We employ 42 people, including 24 lawyers. We had eight when I took over. We have high-quality attorneys who are committed to what we do and the clients we serve. We try to make certain that every client has a good experience. We make certain they understand our different practice areas so they can find the person who can provide them with the knowledge and help they need. I learned many years ago that the clients who stay are the ones who know more than one person at our firm. So, I try to make sure every client has good relationships with and access to more than one lawyer.  It’s unusual for a small firm like ours to maintain such a diverse practice and to be competitive with large and small law firms and I am very proud of what we’ve built, the principles we maintain and our reputation within the government contracting community.

Q What tips would you share with other women pursuing entrepreneurship?

A It’s important to follow your dream but also to understand your market. Before you jump in, make sure you know what your potential is, what your industry is, who your customers are, and make absolutely certain that you vet your business partners. Whether they are co-owners, teaming partners or key employees, make sure you have the same ethics, the same ideas, and that you agree on expectations. That means putting it in writing. Those kinds of business relationships can go sour quickly, and the best thing to do is think things through at the beginning so there’s a roadmap if they do.

Q What obstacles do you think are the hardest for women business owners to scale? 

A Scaling a business requires financial resources, a dedicated staff and a wise business plan.  Women entrepreneurs still have trouble with access to credit and capital, which can hinder attracting and retaining the key employees necessary to take a business to the next level.  I do believe the situation has improved over the past decades but I still see clients who struggle with these challenges.  I also suspect that many women still struggle with juggling their roles as mothers—which is critically important—with their roles as entrepreneurs, which is also a critical role. Both jobs require much effort and I do not believe that many women can accomplish both to their satisfaction, especially when trying to scale a business. I don’t care what anyone says, no one can be super woman all the time and each of us needs to strike the most comfortable balance for ourselves.

Q Tell us about your experience as a WIPP member. What resources and value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?

A I love being on the WIPP board. I have met so many interesting women and am developing better, deeper relationships with them every day. We share tips, send referrals, and are all working together to build our advocacy effort to make it a better place for women entrepreneurs. It’s a very meaningful experience for me.

As far as resources, all the networking is fantastic. Also, WIPP’s resources like the Give Me 5 program, the annual conferences, networking opportunities and the legislative initiatives have been very valuable to many of our clients.

The White House Budget and Small Business

By Jennifer White, WIPP Advocacy Team

On Tuesday, the president’s full budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 was released. The numbers below outline proposed funding changes for Small Business Administration programs, as well as the justifications sent to Congress on specified funding changes on our blog.

As a reminder, the president proposes and Congress appropriates. Congress will be making the final funding decisions. Here are WIPP’s recommendations for Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations.

Need to brush up on the budget process? Click here for WIPP’s webinar on the issue.

FY18 White House Budget Proposal

Program

FY17 Funding
(in millions)

FY18 Request
(in millions)
WBC 18 16*
PRIME 5 0*
HUBZone 3 2.5*
Microloan TA 31 25
Microloan Lending 44 36
CDFI Fund 248 14*
7(a) guarantees 23.5 billion 29 billion
NWBC 1.5 1.5
SBDCs 125 110*


* WBC justification by SBA to Congress

The FY 2018 request strengthens SBA outreach center programs by reducing duplicative services, coordinating best practices, and investing in communities that will benefit from SBA’s business center support. As a result, the SBA is confident that it will be better positioned to strengthen local partnerships and more efficiently serve program participants while achieving savings over the FY 2017 Enacted levels.

* PRIME justification by SBA to Congress

The PRIME program’s function and activities are not discernibly different from many other SBA entrepreneurial assistance programs such as Microloan technical assistance, the Women’s Business Center program, or the Small Business Development Center program. In particular, while the PRIME program is designed specifically for micro-level businesses, it is less targeted than the Microloan program’s technical assistance funding which supports micro-borrowers with both microloans and other support from the intermediaries. In addition, the SBA has been strengthening its partnerships with major U.S. banks, as well as community lenders, to help them to deliver billions more in financing to under-served communities.

* HUBZone Justification by SBA to Congress:

Following an FY 2017 development effort to enhance HUBZone maps, SBA anticipates decreased development needs for this effort in FY 2018.

* CDFI Justification by SBA to Congress

Unlike other CDFI Fund programs, the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program (BGP) — enacted through the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 — does not offer grants, but is instead a zero-subsidy federal credit program, designed to function at no cost to taxpayers. Under the BGP, the secretary of the Treasury provides a 100% guarantee of long-term bonds issued to CDFIs, with a maximum maturity of 30 years. The BGP does not require discretionary budget authority for its credit subsidy, but the annual loan guarantee limitations are appropriated. Through September 30, 2016, Treasury had issued $1.1 billion in bond guarantee commitments to 17 CDFIs that have supported investments in low-income and underserved communities, including for the development of multi-family rental properties, charter schools, and healthcare facilities. The budget proposes to extend and reform the BGP through 2018 with an annual commitment limitation of $500 million and a minimum individual bond size of $50 million, while maintaining strong protections against credit risk.

* SBDCs justification by SBA to Congress

The FY 2018 request strengthens SBA outreach center programs by reducing duplicative services, coordinating best practices, and investing in communities that will benefit from SBA’s business center support. As a result, the SBA is confident that it will be better positioned to strengthen local partnerships and more efficiently serve program participants while achieving savings over the FY 2017 Enacted levels.

FY18 Legislative Proposals PROPOSAL

SBDC and WBC Data Collection

Currently, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) collect data on each individual and small business to whom they provide counseling and training services. Except for the limited purposes identified in the Small Business Act, SBDCs and WBCs may not disclose to SBA certain information (e.g., name, address, telephone number) that they collect. However, the SBA needs access to this type of information to be able to contact the individuals or small businesses to determine their level of success after receiving counseling and training assistance. Disclosure of the information to SBA would greatly enhance the agency’s efforts to conduct rigorous program evaluations, including the impact of the counseling and training on those who received such assistance, identify best practices, and improve efficiency of the SBDC and WBC programs. As a result, SBA is proposing to add program evaluations and similar program assessments to the list of allowable purposes for which the data may be disclosed to SBA.

Writing YOUR Success Story

By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator

Once upon a time….

It’s the classic opening to our favorite fairy tales. As children we dream of magic potions and knights in shining armor that will provide our happily ever after. How were we to know thalinda-mcmahon-high.jpgt our own hard work, skill and determination could be far more effective?

Once upon a time, my husband and I started our business sharing a desk. As he developed our product and expanded our markets, I managed the books. When the work became too much for the two of us to handle ourselves, we hired our first employee. As our business grew, we hired another. Then another. Over decades of hard work growing our business, that company we created now has grown to a publicly traded enterprise with more than 800 employees and consumers in 180 countries worldwide.

As an entrepreneur, I have truly lived the American Dream: the classic tale of taking a risk on an idea, working hard and creating something from nothing. Don’t get me wrong – we had plenty of stumbles and challenges that provided the plot twists along the way. But it’s a story I am always proud to tell.

And as head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, my goal now is to help more people have the opportunity to live the American Dream.

Yet many aspiring entrepreneurs have no idea how to get their stories started or write their next chapters.

The SBA is here to help, with resources both online and in communities from coast to coast.

During National Small Business Week, as we celebrate the 28 million small businesses that drive our nation’s economy, we also showcase the resources and services the SBA provides to entrepreneurs at every stage, whether they are starting up, expanding or getting through a tough time.

The SBA has 68 district offices and an extensive network of resource partners across America, including Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. The experienced professionals that staff these offices offer a core group of services that we call the “three Cs and a D” – capital accesscounselingcontracts, and disaster assistance.

Many entrepreneurs need capital to start or expand their small business, combining what they have with other sources of financing. While the SBA doesn’t loan money directly to small business owners, it helps facilitate loans with a guaranty that a certain portion will be repaid. We offer counseling on starting, scaling and succeeding in business, from how to draft a business plan to how to export your product overseas. And we train small businesses on how to compete for government contracts, especially those set aside exclusively for small business owners. Finally, SBA provides a helping hand to small businesses recovering from disasters.

As I think back on my own story as a small business owner, I wonder how much easier things might have been if we’d been aware of the many valuable services SBA provides. My hope is that as more people learn about the SBA, they will have the confidence, skills and resources they need to succeed as small business owners, and we can continue to revitalize a spirit of entrepreneurship in our country.

There’s room for far more success stories in our library.

And the SBA can help more entrepreneurs write their own “happily ever after.”

Linda McMahon serves as the 25th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

 

 

 

SBA Administrator McMahon makes first appearance before a Congressional committee

By Jennifer White, WIPP Government Relations

Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon talked about her plans for the agency during her first official hearing with the House Small Business Committee on April 5. From the start, Administrator McMahon made clear that her goal is to raise the profile of the agency, in hopes of renewing the spirit of entrepreneurship in America.

“Becoming administrator has been a lot like assuming the position of CEO – trying to evaluate employees and practices and figuring out what’s working and what’s not. My first town hall address was to let folks know that I want this to be the best SBA that’s ever been,” said McMahon.

Throughout the hearing, committee members showed interest in working with the administrator and addressed hard-hitting topics for WIPP – including access to capital, healthcare, tax reform, and regulations. Below are highlights:

  • Access to capital
    • In response to inquiries on improving access to capital for women, McMahon said one of her main focuses would be to ensure that more women apply for loans. McMahon plans on providing counseling to women entrepreneurs creating a business plan. She also said she believes SBA can work to increase the number of women in lending positions when asked about the lack of Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) investments to women-owned firms. SBICs are licensed by the SBA to supply small businesses with both equity and debt financing. Increasing women in lending positions is a point highlighted in the WIPP Economic Blueprint.
  • Healthcare
    • The administrator supports the creation of association plans across state lines offered to small businesses, which WIPP supports. McMahon, referring to HR 1101, which recently passed the House, believes this change to the healthcare market would reduce premiums for small business owners.
  • Tax reform
    • Administrator McMahon wants small businesses to receive similar tax treatment as large businesses, another position WIPP outlines in its Economic Blueprint.
  • Regulations
    • The administrator supports reforming regulations to reduce the burden and costs placed on small businesses. She believes the first step is to look at what regulations are really necessary and go from there. WIPP cites the need for reliable policies and regulations in the Economic Blueprint, as well.

Only two months into her position, the administrator is in the early stages of making the progress she wants to. But, between her enthusiasm for the positions outlined here and the committee’s readiness to work with the administration, it is certain there will be lots to watch for in the coming year.

To watch the full hearing and read Administrator McMahon’s written testimony, click here.

The confusion surrounding the federal budget debate

By Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

Recently, WIPP’s President Jane Campbell and I gave a webinar on the federal budget process, which attempted to explain all of the moving parts in the federal budget, including what it means to businesses and the organizations they support. Below I have laid out the steps in the process as simply as possible.

Immediate action item

  1. The funding for Fiscal Year (FY)17 ends on April 28, 2017, therefore Congress must act on or before that date to keep funding the government for the remainder of FY17, which ends on September 30, 2017. FY17 has been funded through a Continuing Resolution (CR), meaning that FY17 has been funded at FY16 levels. While under a CR, federal agencies cannot award grants or initiate new program starts.

Funding options for FY17

(a) A Continuing Resolution until the Fiscal Year ends, or

(b) An “omnibus” appropriations bill to fund the rest of the year. Omnibus simply means putting the 10 remaining agency appropriations into one big bill. The Defense Department and the Veterans Affairs Department bill were signed into law, so there are 10 agencies remaining.

The president can request supplemental appropriations in the current fiscal year, which is exactly what President Trump did in March. He requested $30 billion more for FY17 funding for defense and homeland security. Congress will decide whether or not to honor his request, which would be rolled into the FY17 Omnibus bill.

Longer-term action items

  1. Funding for FY18—which starts October 1, 2017. The House Appropriations Committee is responsible for starting the funding process, and revenue bills must start in the House. The committee is just now starting hearings on funding programs, and subcommittees of this committee have responsibility for certain federal agencies. For example, the Treasury and SBA are funded by the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. The three-part process is as follows: Subcommittees act first, the full Appropriations Committee considers, and then the bills go to the House floor for action.
  2. Raising the debt ceiling will be required sometime this fall. Why does that matter? If it is not raised, the federal government defaults on its debt, which would send ripples through the global economy.
  3. The FY18 Budget Resolution provides a high-level set of budget numbers that appropriators work against. Much like your own budget, the federal budget is anticipated spending, not what is actually spent (appropriations). Ideally, the Congress should agree on a resolution before it does appropriations, but that does not seem likely.

The interplay between the president’s proposed budget for FY18 (yes, there will be two: 1) a blueprint released in March and 2) a more detailed budget in May) and appropriations is worth an explanation. What we all learned in civics class, “the president proposes and the Congress appropriates,” sets the tone. The media frequently forgets to include this fact in their coverage of the budget, suggesting that the president has the sole power to determine the budget. In fact, he does not. He can only use his bully pulpit to ask for funding priorities. Generally speaking, the Congress, especially if it is from the same party as the president, tries to accommodate his requests. Side noteI say “he” because there has never been a “she.”

In his proposed budget, President Trump suggested cutting many programs that have powerful constituencies, causing widespread alarm among recipients of these programs. While this is certainly a wake-up call for many, the real alarm bells should be directed at the appropriators.

Which leads me to WIPP’s strategy with respect to FY18 funding of programs that support women entrepreneurs. We have concentrated on the appropriators and will continue to urge support. Members on the House Appropriations Subcommittees are the first line of defense and later, the full Appropriations Committee. After finishing with the House, we will turn our attention to the Senate Appropriations Committee. The last stop is floor action.

All told, the season to advocate on behalf of appropriations started in March, and will continue through the rest of the year. The Congress will continue to engage constituents with respect to budget decisions. On April 7, Congress will begin a two-week recess. Legislators will be in their home districts and conducting meetings. Echoing WIPP’s funding requests would be much appreciated. If you are a government contractor, consider voicing the need for stability in the federal budget.  If you support local nonprofit organizations, take a look at federal support dollars and speak up.

The time is now.

Pamela O’Rourke, WIPP’s National Partner of the Month – March 2017

Pamela O'Rourke.jpg

Pamela O’Rourke, president and CEO of ICON information Consultants, serves on WIPP’s board of directors and has been a strong supporter of the organization through her leadership and generous contributions of time and fiscal support. Indeed, Pamela became WIPP’s very first donor to earn the “Trailblazer” title in February by contributing $10,000 to support our education work and advocacy on behalf of women business owners in Washington, D.C.

It’s thanks to people like Pamela that WIPP thrives. Thank you, Pamela!

Q Tell us a little about ICON and its mission.

A ICON Information Consultants, LP, is a Houston-based, woman-owned (WBENC Certified) staffing and payrolling firm. ICON has provided recruitment and payrolling solutions for 19 years and has over 3,500 contractors on staff daily within the US and Canada. Our primary services include Contract, Contract-to-Hire, and Direct Hire Staffing services, Payrolling services, Independent Contractor Compliance and Management services, and Specialized IT Project Management services. We target clients in the Fortune 100 and 500 arena. Some of our clients include Bank of America, John Hancock, Exelon, Deutsche Bank, NRG Reliant Energy, Shell, Halliburton, HP, Waste Management, Schlumberger, Lyondell/Basell, among many others throughout the nation. Simply put, ICON’s mission is to become the best human capital solutions firm in the US.

Q Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what inspired you to take the leap?

A Even before ICON’s inception, I maintained a firm belief that clients deserve more. Make the client happy while always doing the right thing, such as staying late, providing outstanding service internally and out, and doing the best job the first time. I realized while working for other firms that the level of service I wanted to provide was far superior to that which was requested of me. At that time, I saw a window of opportunity to channel my energy and work ethic towards a new business venture. As banks accredit no value to best intentions and denied my loan request since “people are not tangible assets,” I created a business plan and solicited two groups of friends to invest in the start-up. Between my own investment and the money I raised, in 1998, I opened ICON Information Consultants LP with $250,000 in capital. I then gave myself six months to make it work.

Q Have you encountered any challenges you had to overcome as a business woman and if so, what have you learned from them?

A ICON Information Consultants began its journey as a human capital procurement firm in the area of Information Technology. IT has always been a male-dominated field, and my approach and tenacity have broken through a few glass ceilings to ensure ICON remains at the top of our clients’ lists (recently, Bank of America noted ICON Information Consultants as their “favorite supplier”). I learned one of my biggest lessons when I first started to hire people. As an entrepreneur, I realized early on that in order to be at the top of my industry, I must build a team that shares my hunger to continuously learn and improve. As a team, we need to be ready, because competitors are poised to seize any opportunities left open. That’s why I survey the competition to ensure that ICON’s competitive advantage is consistently one step ahead of the curve (if not two).

Q Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it!

A The first few years of ICON Information Consultant’s existence forms the basis of my success story. Between my own investment and the money that I raised, in 1998, we opened the business with $250,000 in capital. I gave myself six months to make it work. Choosing to work only with Fortune 100 and 500 corporations because of their significant investment in state-of-the-art technology, I managed to cross over into the midmarket range within months. I thought I was going to do $70,000 my first year, but I did $2.5 million. The next year was $7.7 million. The third year was $11.7 million, then $14 million and $16 million. In 2016, revenues exceeded $270 million. That’s how glass ceilings are shattered.

Q Do you have any tips you would like to share with other women pursuing entrepreneurship?

A Get out of your comfort zone and make contacts. Once you have a prospective client’s undivided attention, know what you need to do to get on their radar, be direct with what you do and make sure they know why you’re great. Always remember: be yourself, relax, and bring lots of business cards.