Real Experience and Tips from Transition Music and Media on Federal Contracting

Interview with Donna Ross Jones, Founder and CEO of Transition Music and Media Corporation

Donna Ross Jones1. Tell us a little about your company and its mission.

Music is the heartbeat of our culture and our hand is forever on the pulse. We are passionate about music and the people who create it. Transition Music was originally formed with the mission to create new opportunities for artists, songwriters and composers. This became especially important when technology hit the industry, causing a massive music industry decline.

Today Transition is one of the top 100 music publishers in the world, with more than 1 million music performances globally each year. We unite music with some of the most watched content on the planet. We own a global music library and have a staff of award winning music creators and executives working daily to provide music and manage music process’s for all forms of visual media, from TV series, feature films to corporate productions to webisodes. Our first national production for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children went viral and ignited a global conversation increasing awareness about wandering and the dangers facing children with autism.

2. Have you always planned on doing business with federal government?

No we had not always planned on doing business with federal government. In our continual goal of expansion and creating more opportunities for music creators, we routinely look at new markets. Knowing that the Federal Government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the US we began exploring how and if there was an opportunity for us.

3. How have you proceeded with pursuing Federal Contracts?

We decided to invest in educating ourselves as to how and if the federal market place was a match for us. I began going back and forth to DC, working with the SBA and the Department of Commerce to understand the market and how Transition could be successful. We decided to invest the time and resources needed to obtain certifications when we learned Transition Music Corporation was the only WOSB music library of our size and scope, who was also an MBE and an 8a. We saw an opportunity to bring our “Hollywood” brand of expertise to the federal government through music and visual content creation, while assisting them in reaching their diversity goals.

How has this shaped your business?

It is still shaping our business. I keep going back to our mission “to create new opportunities for our creative community”. Pursuing business opportunities outside of mainstream entertainment creates new revenue streams making it possible for producers, writers, musicians, artists and so on to make a living using their gifts and doing what they love.

4. How do you think can ChallengeHER and Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) program help women-business owners in the process?

Working in the government space, like working any other market sector, is about investing time learning, making new contacts and building relationships. ChallengeHER and the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) program give women the opportunity to make contacts and connect to resources to get the information needed to make informed decisions on all aspects of their business.

How has it helped your business?

Our efforts have resulted in contracts to produce marketing videos, and PSA’s for government agencies. Our music library is competing for music contract in multiple federal agencies and awards in recognition of our work, including Transition Music and Media being named the Minority Media Firm of the Year for the City of Los Angeles, by the Department of Commerce and the MBDA.

5. Could you share the key takeaways you took from the event?

I’ve attended several ChallengeHER and Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) events, and the key takeaways are always the same; come prepared knowing
who you want to talk to and why. Listen, you never know who you will learn from.

6. If you have won contracts under WOSB would you be willing to share size of the award? How has it impacted/grown you business? Hired new employees?

Transition holds multiple certifications; 8a, WOSB, and WMBE. Our contracts to date have been based on our 8a certification, however being a WOSB has been a part of every conversation, and people are probably checking that box too!

7. What percentage of your revenue comes from government contracts?

For YE 2016 we have forecasted 15%.

8. What contracts are you currently working on?

We are currently in production on 5 videos for the MBDA a division of the Department of Commerce. The videos being produced will tell the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) story, and educate the public, employees and stakeholders on MBDA products and services.

9. What have you worked on in the past?

More than 26 television series & 6 networks rely on Transition Music as their exclusive source for “ALL” things music; from composers, to production music, to licensing, to new artist, music supervision & building music revenue streams. Specifically, in the federal market Transition Music and Media has provided video production services and music for the SBA, MBDA, Center of Exploited and Missing Children (Funded by the DOJ).

10. What would you recommend other WOSBs doing business with federal government?

Do your research to determine the feasibility of opportunities, their size and scope and how long it typically takes to get a contract awarded to an incumbent. Over and over business owners say the certifications did not work for them and they wasted their time. It is critical to know that with our without any certifications, the federal government consists of people and people buy from who they like, so if you go into this with an expectation that the certifications will get you on a list, and the list will bring business opportunities to you, you will be disappointed and waste your company time and resources.

New Platform Gives Women in Business A New Voice in the 2016 Election

WE-Decide-2016_Landscape_edited

Women Impacting Public Policy and Personal BlackBox Collaborate to Launch WE Decide 2016 to Give Women in Business a New Voice in the 2016 Election

 Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) is excited to announce the launch of WE Decide 2016, a new initiative in collaboration with our partner Personal BlackBox (PBB) which aims to engage women in business in the 2016 election. WE Decide 2016 provides women with an opportunity to privately share their opinions via an array of polls, issues surveys, and discussion questions on the issues that matter most to them, their families and their businesses through our unique online platform.

With female presidential contenders from both the Democrat and Republican parties, the 2016 election is shaping up to be another historic battle in pessimism vs. optimism. According to a national online survey of women in business, three-fourths (75%) of the respondents are dissatisfied with the job that Congress is doing to address issues that are impacting women and women business owners, yet 63 percent are hopeful for the future of our country. However, nearly half (48%) of respondents feel that if a male president is elected, they will not receive the same access to economic opportunities and climate for success as they would if a female president were elected.

WE Decide 2016, in partnership with leading business organizations, aims to educate the candidates, the media and voters on the concerns of women entrepreneurs. Our goal to galvanize more than 100,000 women to take part in the WE Decide 2016 platform to voice their needs, opinions and ideas. We need your help to reach this goal!

Women in business, like you, can visit the WE Decide 2016 website – www.WEDecide2016.org – to unlock your personal polling station and confidentially take quick polls on hot topics from the campaign trail, respond to in depth issue surveys, and participate in our “Tell Us!” section to express your unique perspective on the challenges you face. Participants control their personal data and unlike other polling and survey sites, the information you share with WE Decide 2016 will never be sold to anyone. With the anonymous polling data, WE Decide 2016 will take collective wants, needs and opinions directly to the candidates to influence future policies.

WE Decide 2016 participants can also learn about breaking election news, where the candidates stand on economic issues and get advice on how women can get involved in the political process and become an advocate for the issues impacting their businesses. The WE Decide 2016 Profiles highlight the personal story behind the issues, allowing visitors to hear directly from women in business.

Don’t forget to join us on social media! You can share the results of WE Decide 2016 surveys with candidates and spread the word to your network by utilizing the hashtag #WEDecide2016. Also, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Leveraging insight, secure poll data and user comments, WE Decide 2016 will publish a Women in Business Policy Priorities report prior to the national conventions to encourage political parties and their candidates to prioritize and discuss issues of significance to women entrepreneurs. Make sure your voice is included by participating in WE Decide 2016 today and signing up to receive alerts on new polls and engagement opportunities.

Together. WE Decide 2016.  To learn more and engage in WE Decide 2016, visit wedecide2016.org.

FAR Council Embraces Sole Source

By: Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations

Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) recently submitted comments on the interim rule implementing sole source authority into the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR).  For more details please read WIPP’s full comment here.

FB Cover photo

WIPP’s 15-year effort to expand contracting opportunities for women entrepreneurs cleared an important hurdle with sole source authority finalized in the government’s contracting rulebook. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) is the government’s official source for rules when it comes to awarding contracts. Implementing sole source authority into the FAR means that women entrepreneurs wll now be competing on a level playing with other small business contracting programs.

WIPP’s comment on this rule acknowledged the FAR Council for recognizing the “urgent and compelling need” to grant contracting officers this authority. Their recognition is the culmination of years of hard work and advocacy to bring parity for women-owned contracting firms.

Although the Small Business Administration (SBA) published sole source rules last fall, some contracting officers had been waiting for official language to be put into the FAR before they would use sole source authority.  WIPP members have experienced this inconsistency firsthand and WIPP’s comment highlighted how important it is for the FAR to eliminate the conflict.

The FAR Council’s rule became effective on December 31, 2015 – a great way to start the New Year. Contracting officers now have official instructions to award sole source contracts through the WOSB Procurement Program. We encourage women business owners to comment on this important victory for our community. If you wish to echo WIPP’s comments, you can submit them electronically using Regulations.gov and search for “FAR Case 2015-032.” Please use the “Comment Now” option, which will provide instructions for uploading your document and ensure that your voice is heard.

 

Want Global Economic Growth? Hire a Woman

By Jennifer Bisceglie, WIPP Board Member & WIPP International President

According to the World Bank, the past four years have seen tepid economic growth, with global GDP growing at under 3% annually. While 2.5% growth is far better than the rate of -2.1% that was seen at the low point of the 2009 recession, it doesn’t begin to meet the rates of over 4% that was seen during the mid 1990s and 2000s. Economists have been saying for some time that we are looking at the new economic “normal”. But does that have to be the last word?

IMG_6573[1]Few weeks ago I traveled to São Paulo, Brazil and Ankara, Turkey where I had the opportunity to represent WIPP and WIPP International and our members in critical discussions about global economic development. At both events, leaders from governments, NGOs and the business world took the stage to reiterate the need for gender inclusive growth policies.

In São Paulo, the International Trade Center’s (ITC) Women and Trade Programme hosted the annual Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum (WVEF), which seeks to increase the participation of women owned businesses in global supply chains. According to the ITC, women globally own almost 10 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which account for almost 80% of jobs around the world. It is well known that supporting an environment that encourages entrepreneurship spurs job growth.

At the event, ITC Executive Director Arancha González called on world leaders, governments, and the business community to develop economic and procurement policies that will create one million more women entrepreneurs by 2020. The call to action will impact local and global markets by stimulating job creation at record levels.

In Ankara, the G20 launched the Women-20 (W20), an engagement group focused on promoting gender-inclusive economic growth. The group’s mandate is to advance recent G20 commitments on: women’s full economic and social participation (Los Cabos Leaders’ Declaration, 2012); women’s financial inclusion and education (St Petersburg Leaders’ Declaration, 2013); and gap reduction in participation rates between men and women in G20 countries by 25 percent by 2025, taking into account national circumstances (Brisbane Leaders’ Declaration, 2014).

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made an impassioned speech about the potential of the W20 to positively impact the global economy. Today, in the G20, male economic participation is 86%, but only 56% for women. He added that for every 1% rise in female participation, it is estimated the global economy will grow an additional $80 billion and a 10% rise would increase the global GDP by an amount equivalent to Turkey’s annual GDP today.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde highlighted that data compiled by the World Bank indicates 90% of countries still have laws that discriminate against women. She admitted that the IMF in the past has not had a strong focus on women, but the impact to women and the potential of women in the economy is now considered in every IMF country visit. She added that words are important, but to echo Prime Minister Davutoğlu, it is what gets implemented and the outcomes that are achieved, which really matter.

The important takeaway from these meetings is not that gender inclusive growth policies are the moral or right thing to do, but that they are the smart economic thing to do. Increasing women’s participation in the global economy has the potential to add to the global GDP the economic equivalent of a new China or India. In a time when no one is quite happy with the “new normal” economy, isn’t this the smart thing to do for everyone, both men and women?

ChallengeHER 2015 Update … Fall Edition

A substantial part of Women Impacting Public Policy’s (WIPP) Federal Procurement Programming lies undoubtedly with ChallengeHER. ChallengeHER is an educational program, which provides women business owners with the guidance to better compete for federal contracts under the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program.

CH-Transparent

In order to provide as much impact as possible and to get women business owners together with federal buyers, ChallengeHER events are being held in several cities and states throughout 2015. As the year is progressing toward the fall season, several events have already been held (e.g. Washington D.C., New York, Dallas, Atlanta, New Hampshire), but many more are still scheduled until the end of the year. And what can participants expect?

ChallengeHER provides women around the United States with the most important, standardized knowledge and guidance in the federal marketplace and an opportunity to:

  • Learn about the WOSB set aside program and how to market their business using this set aside.
  • Learn from experiences and best practices of successful WOSBs working as federal contractors.
  • Find out from federal buyers how to do business with their agency in Federal Buyer’s Panel.
  • Participate in one-on-one matchmaking sessions with federal buyers at most events.
  • Learn about the new Sole Source Authority rule! More information on SBA’s announcement integrating a sole source component into the WOSB procurement program starting October 14, 2015, can be found here.
  • Network with peer mentors and other WOSB and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) firms.

Some of the participants’ feedback:

BlogPost“I am glad I was able to attend ChallengeHER. The speakers were great and very informative.” – Attendee from New Hampshire event

“ChallengeHER provided me with pathway to applying for federal contracts and becoming a successful women business owner.” – Attendee from Atlanta event

“I truly appreciate the information shared. It provoked me to think differently about how I was running mBlogPosty business. I was so inspired I even recorded the speech.” – Attendee from Atlanta event

“As well as strong individual speakers, it was particularly helpful to have “panels” that provided different perspectives at once.” – Attendee from NYC event

Registration for upcoming events is available for:

More events to come will be held in Central New Jersey, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Orlando in Florida throughout November and early December 2015.

ChallengeHER aims not only to provide one time learning experience but also to build a standing long-term knowledge and support base for its participants. Therefore additional resources are available for attendees both before and after the event:

  1. To prepare and get ready for discussions and topics covered during the event by listening the following courses:
  2. To follow up on gained knowledge and sort out where to go from there, by following 10 Quick Steps for guidance to successful federal contracting.

For those of you, who are not familiar with the program, here is some basic information:

ChallengeHER, an initiative from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA), WIPP, and American Express OPEN (OPEN), is designed to strengthen and promote the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program. ChallengeHER offers women business owners important information to established and new businesses on working with the federal government. Further, these events enable more women business owners to take advantage of contracting opportunities so they can boost their businesses and help propel the success of the WOSB Procurement Program.

For more information on upcoming events and news visit our website and connect with us online on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Introducing Peer-To-Peer Lending: Alternative Funding for Your Small Business

SBA Advocacy- P2P issue brief

The Office of Advocacy is an independent office within the Small Business Administration that is a great source for small business statistics, as well as a voice for small business owners that can express their views and issues to policy makers in DC. Today, the Office of Advocacy released an issue brief on “Peer-To-Peer Lending: A Financing Alternative for Small Businesses”.

To explain a little more, Peer-To-Peer Lending or P2P is a funding model where individual investors give small personal loans online to individuals. The Office of Advocacy describes P2P as a hybrid of crowdfunding and marketplace lending.

The issue brief released today details the funding model and gives a side-by-side view of P2P and traditional small business financing options. It also shows how it could affect small businesses in the future, giving them more opportunity for financial growth.

Read the brief to learn more.

What We Can Learn from High Growth Women Owned Firms

By Annie Wilson, Intern

Last year Susan Coleman D.P.S. and Alicia Robb Ph. D published research prepared for the National Women’s Business Council examining the factors affecting access to capital for high-growth women-owned businesses. In their research, Coleman and Robb found that currently in the business community 30% of businesses were owned by women, however they are mostly small:

  • only 12% of women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) employ anyone other than the business owner;
  • 2% have 10 or more employees; and
  • only 2% have revenues in excess of $1 million.

NWBC Blog Image

This new data shows the need to engage and educate women owned businesses on growth strategies that can expand their businesses.

This report delves deeper into the issues relating to capital accessibility specifically for growth oriented firms, which comparative studies have yet to research thoroughly due to a lack of data.

According to the study, access to capital may be more challenging for women-owned firms than for men for a multitude of reasons:

  • In terms of financial capital, there are considerable gender gaps in the amounts of financing across firms. Men start firms with nearly double the amount of capital that women do and, of high growth firms, men use more than double of what women use. Men also indicated to have used six times the amount of financing that women do.
  • For startup capital, women were found to be more reliant on owner equity and insider financing as opposed to men who used outsider equity predominantly. For women owned firms, a very small fraction of startup capital came from outsider equity regardless of where the firm was on the size spectrum.
  • In terms of credit market experiences, women indicated to have similar loan application rates as men even though there are more unmet credit needs among women. Women were more likely to not apply for the necessary credit due to a fear of a denied loan application. Also, credit scores are generally lower for women.
  • While men and women are on par in terms of education levels, men exceed women in degrees in the STEM fields, which is the industry that experiences more growth.
  • By means of industry experience, as women tend to have lower levels of startup experience, team ownership and hours worked compared to men.
  • Women have higher rates of owning businesses that are home-based due to family commitments and research has indicated that being home based is negatively related to growth.

However, when comparing the top ranking female businesses by employment and growth potential, there are some considerable differentiations that set them aside.

  • They had a higher rate of employment from their startup year onwards.
  • They are more likely to be in tech industries.
  • They were more likely to offer services as opposed to products.
  • They were less likely to be based from the owner’s home.
  • They were more likely to be incorporated and as a result yield higher credit scores.

For leadership traits, women business owners of high growth firms also had some unique characteristics:

  • They were likely to have more years of industry experience and more likely to have more startup experience.
  • They started their businesses with much more capital (even more than the male owned firms overall.)
  • They used more outsider equity for startup capital. However, this was typically still less than their male counterparts.

Learning from these success measures, it is clear that increased capital for women entrepreneurs, specifically in the startup phase of their business, has an important correlation to the trajectory of women owned businesses. In order to foster a more successful environment for women, there must be changes in the business environment to give women the support and resources they need to turn this trend around.

It is clear that the financing gap between men and women business owners is a considerable detriment to the vitality of women-owned firms. In order to ensure stronger female entrepreneurship and make strides towards closing this gap, efforts must be made to strengthen the financial capabilities of women entrepreneurs and encourage accessibility to bank and equity financing. Also, providing more visibility and accessibility to successful female industry professionals and providing more opportunity for women to attain industry experience could help bolster the entrepreneurial confidence that women need to compete with their male competitors. Another important step forward would be an increased use of family-friendly policies, which could give women the flexibility to work outside of their homes and in an environment more conducive to entrepreneurial growth.

Take a look at WIPP’s recently launched Access to Capital platform to address funding gaps and the crisis of capital faced by women entrepreneurs.

To read the full report, click here.

July 2015 WIPP National Partner of the Month: Juli Betwee

Julie B WIPP’s July 2015 National Partner of the Month: Juli Betwee

Managing Partner at Pivot Point Partners of San Francisco, CA

WIPP sat down with Juli to hear more about her company and relationship with WIPP.

I work with leaders of mid-sized companies to grow and scale their business.  The analogy I often use is:  Strategic planning is like a commitment to a gym membership.  The membership is the intention to set a goal and follow through.  Consistent follow-through is the tough part… when most people bail from their intention.  I work with companies for 2-3 years enabling them to compete in markets and with services, necessary for sustainable, profitable growth but not usually attainable if they keep doing what they have always done.

Tell us a little about your company and its mission. I am the Managing Partner at Pivot Point Partners. It is hard give you a short explanation so I have put together a little piece about Pivot Point.

Have you always been an entrepreneur?  If not, what, or who, inspired you to take this leap?  I have always been entrepreneurial. I often bring a fresh and different perspective to what I do. It is the advantage I bring to the people with whom I work.

How are you engaged in your community (or state or national scene) in philanthropic or political causes? I am on the board of The Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. I have plans to teach an undergraduate business course in 2015-16. I am working with WIPP to develop their growth strategy and am on the board of The Women Presidents Organization. I contribute to GLIDE, as I believe in their model of social justice.

Have you advocated for an issue or a cause important to you? I advocate for issues that impact women in business.

What value/resources has WIPP brought you (training or education, member or political connections/access, awareness of policies that affect your business and its growth, etc.) that have been helpful to you?  Being Involved with WIPP has given me deeper insight into public policy and how it works. I am amazed at the work you accomplish and inroads you are making for women business leaders.

Help is on the way!

Export NOWIf you are the owner of a small business interested in the potential exporting opportunity, it’s not easy! There is no central point of entry, much less an easy step-by-step process to follow.   We hear over and over that it is overwhelming with trade development resources and guides often disbursed throughout several agencies and their departments.

Help is on the way for you with the Export NOW program developed by WIPP.   Whether you are considering export, or looking to expand your markets, we have the experts to guide you.   For more information check out our step by step curriculum and get started today.