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FIND YOUR INSPIRATION

WAKE UP!

WOMAN OWNED AND OTHER MINORITY BUSINESSES TAKE CHARGE Story by CHARLES WILSON

THERE IS A BOW WAVE of business opportunities presently upon us and they’re increasing in the energy and manufacturing industries. Historically (and currently), minority owned firms have remained almost invisible on the map in terms of bidding on and winning supplier contracts for those particular industries. The energy and manufacturing industries generate billions of dollars yearly and contract out millions of dollars to other businesses to assist with and complete projects. Existing business fortunate enough to snag these jobs range from large cap companies to small, mid and large cap suppliers. As the U.S. Congress considers lifting the oil export ban, a brand new emerging market of worldwide an industry leaders is poised to flood the U.S. These companies will ultimately trade, transport and/or produce these energy products and will need the of help of contracting suppliers to be successful—presenting thousands of bidding opportunities as they need to supplement their workforce needs. The question remains, if these opportunities are open for bidding by all companies, why are the minority owned firms overlooked or underemployed? Though there are many reasons, we will concentrate on the main culprits. LACK OF EXPOSURE On a regular basis the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency, the Small Business Administration and the Department of Energy post Requests for Proposals (RFPs)— opening the gates for contractors to pitch their businesses and bid on the postings.

Some hiring companies collaborate with these departments and send RFPs directly to them to implement workshops and conferences to assist with pairing them with a contractor based on compatibility. Many minority-owned firms are not thorough in their research efforts or are unaware of how to sign up to receive notices when these opportunities are made available. On a different note, some minority business owners are reluctant to attend informational sessions which would help them to establish relationships with the Diverse Supplier Managers, Directors and VPs that have the decision-making power when selecting bidders . Sometimes gaining access to this information and key-players includes fees to attend events—often deterring smaller business owners. If they considered these fees as an investment, this could be a professional way to gain an audience of their target market and plant seeds—establishing relationships in-person. Contract awards often boil down to existing relationships. Following up with a prospective client, knowing their business needs and keeping their representatives aware of your new certifications or services are some of the ways to nurture relationships. Stalwart suppliers know this and now you do too. LACK OF PREPARATION Being prepared to do business with these firms requires that you have your house in order. Not having business documents necessary to prove your legitimacy or tax and corporate structure can be impede you from successfully securing a contract. When striving to broker deals with the private sector, some things to have (in addition to those listed above) are a corporate banking account, business insurance and certifications with your company’s name listed—not just your name.

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The Small Business Administration offers a tutorial which provides step-by-step processes to meet the criteria for those who desire to do business with the government. You should find out if there is a prime contractor and necessity of subcontractors for an RFP. You should also research collaborative opportunities for an RFP. This means money will have to be split between firms, but it increases the credibility of both firms. It’s better to have a piece of the pie than no pie at all, right? The Minority Supplier Diversity Council (MSDC) can be of assistance when you’re legally registering your business as a minority-owned entity. If you’re a woman, the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) can get you on path to get that certification. Lastly, are you willing to adjust your business model and offering? Many supplier fields are saturated with firms fighting for the same pots of money. It’s public knowledge that there is a discouraging phenomenon of under-representation in diverse supplier business contract awards across many platform fields. Consider switching up or expanding your service and product models to become eligible to bid on a wider range of contracts. NOW IS THE TIME! You will need patience, research and diligence, but the rewards can be endless. Don’t allow another new opportunity to go to your competition without a fight. Position yourself on relevant avenues so that your business being overlooked is no longer an option. What are you waiting for?

Profile for Urban Lux Magazine

URBAN LUX MAGAZINE - THE 2015 LUX LIST ISSUE  

Deborah Cox graces our LUX LIST cover as we prepare to bring the year to a close and celebrate once again a prestigious ensemble of leaders...

URBAN LUX MAGAZINE - THE 2015 LUX LIST ISSUE  

Deborah Cox graces our LUX LIST cover as we prepare to bring the year to a close and celebrate once again a prestigious ensemble of leaders...

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