Survival Guide

Small businesses get ready for change

We asked our experts what small businesses should do as the Obama administration gets under way

Our experts are Mark Amtower, founder of Amtower and Co.; Angela Dingle, president of Ex Nihilo Management LLC; and Marcus Fedeli, business manager for NASA’s Solutions for Enterprisewide Procurement contract.

Amtower: First, focus on your core skill in all outbound messages. Do not be a generalist, be an expert at something. This is a competitive advantage.

Second, focus your marketing on agencies and contractors that know you, who are familiar with your work. Focus your efforts on where you are already doing work. If they like you, they can find more things for you to do. It is much easier to market yourself to someone who knows and likes you than to convince someone new to hire you.

Third, transitions lead to migration –- interagency and intra-agency. If your client moves, follow them. Try to keep the work where you already are, but follow the person who brought you in. Government manager migration occurs all the time but spikes after a presidential election.

Dingle: Simply stated, be proactive.

Small businesses should be positioning themselves to address new initiatives of the Obama administration as well as those that survive the change in administration. Some of the lines-of-business initiatives created under the Bush administration will continue because they have shown progress in addressing apolitical government needs.

Small businesses should identify the LOBs that are receiving federal funds; align products and services with the missions of agencies that receive the most funding; invest in research and development to create products and services that address the new administration’s initiatives; seek ways to create new jobs; and develop a financial growth strategy.

Fedeli: Survival is business as usual. Maintain costs and take superior care of government customers. Ensure your pipeline is robust and [your] win potential is realistic.

Reformulate your strategic planning to ensure you’re in a fast and flexible position to chase new initiatives, and re-evaluate frequently as the new administration’s IT objectives become clear.

Re-emphasize strengths, and ensure current customers and partners know what else your company can provide. Approach new teaming partners and emphasize capabilities.

As government spending declines, typically growth is through acquisition. Smaller companies can find failing divisions within larger companies and, with investment and vision, can capitalize on it.

Companies should focus on acquiring the right people for the right jobs. As the economy declines and companies downsize, there’s a better potential workforce available to the contractor community.

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