Bill Scheessele

8(a) companies face new uncertainty

Bill Scheessele | How to build your business development team

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Federal Circuit recently ruled that
the Defense Department's contracting
rule for small, disadvantaged
businesses was unconstitutional. It
sounds harsh, but that could be the
wake-up call many 8(a) firms need.

The good news is that the ruling
applies only to DOD's program. The
court took 10 years to reach that decision,
and it doesn't dismantle set-aside
programs created by federal laws.

The bad news is that the decision adds
more uncertainty and gives 8(a) businesses
more to worry about.

When companies accept entry into the
8(a) program, they also accept the challenge
of creating a business development
culture and methodology.

There is no forever under the 8(a) program.
Eventually, you must deal with the
reality of surviving on your own. If not,
you've created an environment of
dependency and vulnerability regardless
of your technical capability and
relationships.

Cultivating a revenue-generation capability
involves more than investing in
proposal writing, capture management
and how-to-sell workshops or relying on
a mentor/protégé relationship. Building
a business development operation and
culture early in the program requires
taking a number of steps.

  • Developing a strategic and tactical revenue
    growth plan.
  • Securing a business development
    leader with hunting and farming
    abilities.
  • Understanding business development
    thinking and methodology.
  • Installing a companywide business
    development process.
  • Building a team of hunters and farmers
    to guarantee revenue growth.

A business development plan isn't the
same as a business plan. The former
requires a focus on business development
and revenue generation from a
proactive rather than reactive stance. Get
outside help for this critical first step.
Business development leadership is
crucial to growth. The individual chosen
should have hunting and farming expertise
and the interpreneurial profile of a
team builder. If someone with those credentials
is not already on the team, find
an outside professional with experience
in building a business development
operation. Your business development
thinking must focus on building long-term
relationships with clients. Although
providing top-notch customer service is
essential, knowing and understanding
the challenges your customers face is
even more important. Invest in the training
you need to expand your group's
knowledge about business development.

It is essential to install a companywide
process that all employees use. Everyone
with customer contact is in business
development and should understand the
organization's business development
process and use it.

Building a team of strategic hunters
for new business and organic farmers for
add-on business is crucial for ongoing
viability. Whether a firm continues as an
independent organization or is being
positioned for acquisition, the business
development capability will make the
difference between succeeding with
either strategy or folding because the
company did not meet revenue objectives
and profit projections.

Firms in the government services
industry face many challenges over
which they have no control. Whether
your company is a member of the 8(a)
program or not, actively securing its
long-term viability by cultivating business
development thinking, discipline
and methodology is something you can
control and should tackle as an approach
for 2009 and beyond.

There is nothing unconstitutional
about that.

<i>For more business development resources, click here. To contact Bill Scheessele, e-mail bill.scheessele@mbdi.com. </i>

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