WIPP Works in Washington – May 2018

“Grow – Don’t Grow”

Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

We’ve all experienced a difficult friend or boss who tells you “do this” and then when you do it, they say “no I didn’t mean it that way.”  Then you spend the next hour trying to undo the thing they told you to do in the first place. Frustrating, right? 

That is largely what the federal government has been telling small businesses who enter public sector contracting.  The message to small businesses is “grow.”  The SBA and its stakeholders pour significant resources into helping small businesses succeed.  Those range from SBA District offices in every state, lending and counseling programs and support for programs like ChallengeHER that WIPP sponsors.

Organizations like WIPP encourage their members to think about federal contracting as a complement to commercial business.  We have spent an inordinate amount of resources promoting policies such as the women-owned small business contracting program, subcontracting and acquisition strategies designed to provide more opportunities for the government to buy from women-owned firms.

But then, the government says “wait don’t grow” by implementing a pretty rigid system of determining when a company is too big to be small.  SBA determines this by a system called size standards.  The government determines the average size of business revenue in industry categories and sets a size that a business cannot exceed in order to take advantage of small business contracting programs.  The SBA then takes the average of the last three years of your revenue, deciding whether you are small or have exceeded the size standard, bumping you into being a midsize company.  Ouch.

This is exactly the position WIPP Chair, Lisa Firestone finds herself in.  She testified at a House Small Business Committee hearing on the challenges larger small businesses face when approaching the top of their size standard. Lisa testified on behalf of WIPP, telling her story of watching her company, Managed Care Advisors go from a small boutique healthcare consulting company to the leading provider of Federal Workers’ Compensation Case Management Services. She grew a four-person company to facing a daunting dilemma of growing beyond the $15 million size standard for her industry.

Witnesses at the hearing, “No Man’s Land: Middle-Market Challenges for Small Business Graduates,” discussed the issue of options available to small businesses who reach the top of their size standard.  Should they stay small, sell their business or venture into a midsize company that has to compete for government business with the 110 very large companies? According to Bloomberg Government’s recent report, Mid-Tier Market Report: 2018, only 325 companies have made the decision to be a midsize vendor to the federal government.  This is in contrast to the 118,000 small businesses who sell to the federal government.

How can this trend be reversed?  The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, a WIPP partner in the initiative, “Pathway to Growth” proposes the following recommendations:

  1. Agency: Bring Multiple Award Contracts (MAC) requirements in line with the capabilities of midsize firms. It is essential to sustain midsize businesses participation on these MACs to diversify the types of businesses engaging in the federal market.
  2. Regulatory: Require a five-year look-back for the purpose of Small Business Administration (SBA) size determination. Due to the long contract award process and significant size of task orders, small businesses can quickly outgrow their size standard without having the time and resources to invest in firm infrastructure. This change would allow businesses a smoother transition by changing the receipt calculation by using the lowest three of these preceding five years of receipts, to determine the average.
  3. Legislative: Deduct research and development (R&D) expenses and expenditures from total revenue for size determination. This recommendation supports the government’s initiative to stimulate innovation and allows companies to pursue and develop new products and processes, without undue penalty.

The execution of these proposals would set the record straight: small business owners should grow their business – and those that do should not be penalized for that growth but supported by our federal government. It’s time to end the mixed signals.

Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

The SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition is open for applications and ready to award successful incubators and growth accelerators with cash prizes. This competition, which awards the most innovative and promising small business accelerators and incubators, was announced by the Small Business Administration this morning. These prizes will give the winning organizations additional capital and ultimately assist promising start-ups and entrepreneurs.

For more details on the competition, including competition rules and eligibility, please see the SBA’s announcement. Applications are due by June 3, 2016 and can be submitted through Challenge.gov.

Critical Updates to WOSB Procurement Program

If you are women-owned small business in the federal contracting arena, please take a look at the following critical updates to the WOSB Procurement Program.

You Need to Know: WOSB Program Update
SBA Certify.gov siteThe WOSB procurement program website is undergoing a facelift. A new website, called SBA ONE, will allow for the electronic submission of SBA forms, as well as a streamlined location to monitor all certifications for your company including the repository. With the change, there are three things you need to know:
  1. All WOSBs will need to create a new login for the new system. The new website is actually an entirely new system and as such all WOSBs will need to create a new account and login (but not reload all documents – see next). The SBA is also asking that after creating a new account, all WOSB/EDWOSB companies submit new Form 2413 (WOSB certification) and/or Form 2414 (EDWOSB certification) electronically. Businesses should do this as soon as possible.
  1. The repository is being migrated, but is currently closed. This is important for two reasons: 1) your documents previously submitted should move to your new account and not require resubmission (except as mentioned above a new electronic Form 2413/2414); and 2) Contracting officers will not be able to view your repository documents for WOSB awards. Instructions for you to provide to a CO about how they can confirm your eligibility is available at the end of this document. This only impacts WOSB/EDWOSBs about to win EDWOSB or WOSB set-aside or sole source awards.
  1. The new site supports self-certification. Self-certification for WOSB/EDWOSBs remains an option until SBA finalizes new certification requirements. The website supports companies electing this option by allowing for the electronic submission of required documents. Third-party certifications can be uploaded as well.

SBA ONE, located at certify.sba.gov, will eventually house all program certifications, but is beginning with the WOSB program. Additional programs will be incorporated onto the site on the following projected timeline: 8(a) Business Development Program (Fall 2016), HUBZone Program (Spring 2017) and Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) (Spring 2017).

 * * *

 Information to Share with Contracting Officers
(Direct from SBA)

If you are working with a contract officer on a pending award requiring them to review your status, the following is information provided directly from SBA which you may share with contract officers.

Due to the system upgrade, access to the WOSB Federal Contract Program Repository will be temporarily unavailable for contracting officers (CO), starting on Wednesday, March 23 at 1:00 EDT.  This may be down for several weeks.   During this time, in order to comply with the WOSB Program requirements at 13 CFR 127.301 and FAR 19.1505(e) (specifying that a CO shall verify that an apparent successful offeror has provided all the required documents set forth in 127.300(e) to the WOSB Repository), SBA will review the Repository on behalf of a CO.

A CO may request that SBA review the Repository on their behalf by sending an email to wosb@sba.gov (link sends e-mail) with the following in the subject line:

“PENDING AWARD UNDER FAR 19.505(e) VERIFICATION REQUEST- SOLICITATION NUMBER [insert solicitation number].”

In the body of the email, the CO should provide the following: provide the apparent successful offeror’s DUNS, EIN, FIRM NAME, OWNER NAME; indicate whether the pending award is a WOSB or EDWOSB set-aside or sole source award; specify the NAICS code assigned to the procurement; and identify the State where the CO is located. Within 2 business days, SBA will perform the necessary check to determine whether the apparently successful offeror has filed all the required eligibility documents and provide the CO with an email response which either: (a) notifies the CO that all required documents have been provided or (b) identifies which documents are missing in order to allow the CO to file a status protest in accordance with SBA regulations and the FAR.

Emails for this information will be processed only for Contracting Officers.

 * * *

LEARN MORE
  • Upcoming Webinar:  WIPP is working to arrange for a special webinar with experts from the SBA’s Office of Government Contracting to further review the new site and re-registration process.  More details will follow.
  • If you have any questions about the certification program, or comments on improving the site, please email certify@sba.gov. More details on the transition of repository documents are available atwww.sba.gov/wosb.

Major Expansion of WOSB Procurement Program Starts Today

FB Cover photoBy: Ann Sullivan, WIPP Chief Advocate

A landmark week for women entrepreneurs just got better. Just a day after announcing that federal government had finally met their goal of awarding 5% of contracts to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced a significant expansion of the WOSB procurement program.  When the last disparity study was completed in 2007, women were found to be underrepresented in federal contracting in 83 industries, thus making them eligible for participation in the WOSB program. In addition to pressing for sole source contracts, WIPP advocated for a new study to update eligible NAICS codes for the program. The study, completed by the Department of Commerce earlier this year, found that 113 industries and their corresponding NAICS codes are now eligible for the program. The changes take place immediately.

The study, The Utilization of Women-Owned Businesses in Federal Prime Contracting, found two very disturbing facts.  One, that women are 21% less likely to get a government contract after solving for factors such as age and size of the business. Second, the industries in which WOSBs are less likely to win contracts account for about 85% of both total contracts and dollars awarded.

Find out whether or not your business is eligible for participation in the WOSB procurement program by checking your NAICS codes. Even though the program has quadrupled since 2011, expansion of the NAICS codes will result in even greater gains for women-owned businesses to participate in the public sector.

 

 

ChallengeHER Recognized in Budget Proposal

CH-LogoBudgets are usually just about the numbers, but, every so often, they take respite from tables, spreadsheets, and account balances to acknowledge successful partnerships. Anyone taking a look at the President’s budget, released on February 9, found out who is working on behalf of women business owners when the Small Business Administration (SBA) highlighted the success of WIPP’s ChallengeHER initiative at bringing women-owned businesses into the federal marketplace. Having SBA acknowledge WIPP’s efforts demonstrates just how strong WIPP advocates have been.

Securing a contract with the federal government can double the revenue for a women-owned business and the ChallengeHER program has been providing education to women business owners on how to do just that. In 2013, WIPP partnered with American Express OPEN and SBA to offer events, workshops with access to an online curriculum, and mentoring opportunities that provide women entrepreneurs with knowledge and connections to help them successfully compete for federal contracts.

This year, WIPP is planning 18 ChallengeHER events across the country. For more information and to find the ChallengeHER event closest to you, please visit WIPP’s ChallengeHER site.

SBA Office of Advocacy Report Examines the Millennial Entrepreneur

SBAOOALast week the Small Business Administration published the first report in a series of trends in entrepreneurship by the Office of Advocacy’s Office of Economic Research, “The Missing Millennial Entrepreneurs” by Daniel Wilmoth, PhD. The report’s focus was on how Millennials reported less self-employment than prior generations. This 6-page report analyzes important trends amongst Millennial entrepreneurs, comparing them to Generation X and Baby Boomers – ultimately suggesting that entrepreneurship among Millennials will continue to be relatively low for decades.

Some other important key points highlighted in the report include:

  • In 2014, less than 2 percent of Millennials reported self- employment, compared with 7.6 percent for Generation X and 8.3 percent for Baby Boomers.
  • At age 30, less than 4 percent of Millennials reported self-employment in their primary job in the previous year, compared with 5.4 percent for Generation X and 6.7 percent for Baby Boomers.

To view the full report, click here.

SBA’s Announcement of the 2016 InnovateHER Challenge and Summit

FeatureInnovateHER

By Annie Wilson, Intern

On Tuesday, August 4th the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the launch of the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit. In partnership with Microsoft, the 2016 InnovateHER includes the second round of the women’s business competition to feature new, innovative products and services that help to change and empower the lives of women and families. Last year, the SBA engaged over 100 organizations and reached 1000+ entrepreneurs around the country and this year they have expanded their challenge to include a women’s summit.

It is the SBA’s hope that through this summit they can unveil products or services that have a measurable impact on women and their families, fulfill a marketplace need and have potential for commercialization. The SBA recognizes that while women control 80% of the purchasing power in this country they only make up less than 5% of venture capitalists. The InnovateHER Challenge is an effort to bridge that economic standard for women and elevate commercial success for women entrepreneurs and products for women.

The InnovateHER event will kick off in the fall of 2015 in its initial round starting with competitions hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, resource partners and other organizations. The SBA is encouraging organizations all across the country to participate in this challenge to provide accessibility to an innovative space for women. A way in which organizations can help the InnovateHER challenge and women entrepreneurs within their community is to host a local business competition and submit the winner to the SBA no later than December 3rd, 2015 for the semi final rounds. The SBA will then select up to 10 semifinalists from their community nominations that will be sent to the final pitch competition. The 2016 InnovateHER and final pitch competition will be held March 16-17th, 2016 in Washington D.C. At the final competition, the remaining contestants will do one final marketing pitch and compete to be one of the top three winners to receive up to $70,000 in prize money.

Make sure to check out last year’s winners: LIA Diagnostics, the Shower Shirt, and Trusst.

If you’d like to learn more about the challenge rules or how to become a host organization, please click here.

If you’d like to learn more about the challenge itself, please click here.

“Dream Big” This National Small Business Week, May 4-8

MCS Photo

By Maria Contreras-Sweet
Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration

With apologies to baseball and your mother’s apple pie, nothing is more American than National Small Business Week.

Our country was founded by risk-taking pioneers in search of new horizons. More than two centuries later, what sets America apart in the world is the willingness of our entrepreneurs to take risks. Small businesses allow Americans to be their own boss and improve their lot in life through hard work – a core American value.

Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation declaring National Small Business Week to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs, who create nearly two out of every three net, new U.S. jobs each year. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it was our small businesses that powered our recovery after the Great Recession.

National Small Business Week, themed “SBA: Dream Big, Start Small,” will be held May 4-8. Special events will take place in Miami/Boca Raton, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York, and Washington. D.C.

Tune in all week for live-streaming, beginning at 1 p.m. ET Monday with a panel discussion on small business financing followed by a conversation with Joyce Rosenberg of the Associated Press. Or join me @MCS4Biz at #DreamSmallBiz. I promise you’ll learn a lot.

America is one of the few countries that give entrepreneurs a seat at the President’s cabinet table. This allows the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to speak with one voice on behalf of 28 million small businesses with divergent interests.

The SBA also offers an extensive national network of small business lenders and counselors that’s unmatched anywhere in the world. Many entrepreneurs with great ideas and great potential do not begin with great wealth, so they need a great government partner to support their success.

The SBA offers the “three Cs” to help the best and brightest start or grow a business, secure capital, and commercialize their ideas to benefit society:

  • Capital: SBA fill gaps in the commercial lending marketplace so success in the small business sector is based on merit, not family wealth. To inquire about a small business loan, click here.
  • Counseling: SBA provides free consultation and advice to help businesses on Main Street succeed. To find a small business counselor near you, click here.
  • Contracts: SBA levels the playing field with big business by helping small businesses capture new revenue and new customers by winning government contracts, joining corporate supply chains, and exporting beyond our borders. To learn about contracting opportunities, click here.

This year, during National Small Business Week, we recommit ourselves to those fearless entrepreneurs who plan well, work hard, and dream big. Every business starts small. Nike, Apple, FedEx, Ben & Jerry’s, Under Armour and Outback Steakhouse were all once small businesses, until they found an SBA lender or investor to work with them.

I came to this country as a 5-year old immigrant who didn’t speak a word of English. Today, I serve in the cabinet of the President of the United States. My story is possible only because of the entrepreneurial spirit.

Success in business comes one small step at a time. So dream big, but take that next small step today, because the next great American success story could be staring back at you in the mirror.

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet started three businesses in Los Angeles, including a community bank, before joining President Obama’s cabinet in April 2014.

A Big STEP for Small Business

by Abby Ware, WIPP Government Relations  

Thinking about exporting, but have no idea where to start? Take a look at the Small Business Administration’s State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. As state governments receive funding from the STEP program in coming months, small businesses will have increased access to emerging trade opportunities and export support initiatives. Utilizing the STEP program is what JM Grain of Great Falls, Montana did when it decided it wanted to export lentils and chickpeas. The STEP grant allowed JM Grain to attend a Gulfood Trade Show in Dubai, exposing the small business to new markets and an estimated $600,000 in additional export sales.

The STEP program is a federally funded pilot program with two objectives: 1) increase the number of U.S. exporting small businesses, and 2) increase export value for small businesses that already export. State governments apply and match the funds with a federal to state ratio of 75% to 25% (65% to 35% for high exporting states). STEP activities are then provided and managed at the local level by state government organizations.

Small businesses in the State of Washington in particular have benefitted from STEP, better equipping Washington to incorporate trade-promoting programs such as Export Voucher. The Export Voucher program provides up to $5,000 to small businesses for export-related expenses for companies that want to export.  Washington has also provided financial counseling and targeted support for women, veteran and minority-owned businesses through STEP funding. More information on Washington’s efforts can be found here.

To see if a state already participates and receives STEP grants, go to this link and talk to them about their small business assistance.  Every state deploys its federal STEP program in different ways, so it is important to contact the office listed on the map.