Everything Matters: Entrepreneurs and Their BIG Obligation to Small Business

“The biggest mistake a small business can make is to think like a small business”

—Postfilm Design

In the rapidly globalizing world in which we live today, many individuals neglect to take time to consider how great of an impact entrepreneurs have on our everyday lives. Dictionary.com accurately defines an entrepreneur as “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable risk.” Indeed, being an entrepreneur is not for those who do not have a strong will to prevail. Evidently, if entrepreneurial-minded people like JK Rowling, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, or Jeff Bezos never followed their grandiose visions, the world as we know it may have never read a Harry Potter book, experienced the IPhone, or enjoyed the benefits free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime.

While no two entrepreneurs are identical in their endeavors, business-minded individuals must be determined, dedicated and disciplined to ensure success in their small business undertakings as there really is nothing small about operating a business of any size. This message was reinforced at a “Big Think” series event sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) on 21 September 2015, titled, “Economic Mobility: Entrepreneurship & the Opportunity Gap” in which panelists discussed how to reduce the barriers to starting a business and increase economic mobility through entrepreneurship. The esteemed panel of Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Alan Krueger, Princeton University most notably touched on the topic of economic, political, and social discrimination of marginalized individuals (women, minorities, disabled persons, veterans, young people etc.) in small businesses. Findings by the SBA included reference to multiple studies which found disproportionate numbers of loan denials to minority business owners, despite controls for metrics of financial health1.

Big Think Panel photo: (Left to right): Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Alan Krueger, Princeton University

 

In an ideal world, an entrepreneur with a profound idea translated into a tangible business model and the willpower to execute should be able to fulfill their small business goals. Unfortunately, research shows that despite their growing economic significance, firms owned by women and minority entrepreneurs tend to be smaller, less profitable, and carry lower survival rates than their male or non-minority counterparts. In contrast, entrepreneurship has been found to be relatively more enhanced among white, native-born, and long-term community members when compared to minority, immigrant, and recent-entrant community members1. Furthermore, minority small business owners—especially Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs—are disproportionately denied credit when they apply for credit even after controlling for business credit scores, personal wealth, and revenues1.

This is a giant problem in the United States where the American dream is meant to provide equal opportunity to all of its citizens—including entrepreneurs—regardless of the race, creed, religion, age, gender, or socioeconomic status. Research implies, however, that the American dream inherently allows the aforementioned distinctions to limit small business ambitions. So, how can disadvantaged groups advance their opportunity for success in the world of small business?

Much of the answer lies in the advocacy efforts of both the SBA and the Office of the National Ombudsman—a small business overseer that has helped thousands of small businesses save time and money by resolving difficult regulatory compliance and enforcement issues. According to the SBA, The National Ombudsman works directly with federal regulators as part of President Obama’s mandate to promote a level playing field for small businesses2. By working with federal regulators, The National Ombudsman is able to facilitate practical and timely resolutions of Regulatory Enforcement Fairness (REF) matters that impact small businesses. A few of the ways in which The National Ombudsman executes fair enforcement of small business regulation include2:

  • Providing small business owners a confidential way to report and resolve federal REF problems, like excessive enforcement action or disproportionate fines
  • Escalating small business concerns to federal agencies for fairness review and resolution
  • Grading federal agencies on their small business policies and practices

By connecting with The National Ombudsmen online, at regional SBA listening sessions, or in person, disadvantaged small business owners are able to provide helpful input on REF issues that can assist federal regulators to better comprehend how government can best support small business success. In fact, The National Ombudsman provides an annual report to Congress on its findings that highlights the impact of the policies and practices of every federal agency that touches small businesses. With these means, all hope is not lost for marginalized small business owners and entrepreneurs.

 

 

  1. Kymn, Christine. “Access to Capital for Women- and Minority-owned Businesses: Revisiting Key Variables.” Www.sba.gov/advocacy. The Office of Economic Research of the Office for Advocacy, 29 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 Sept. 2015.

     

  2. “Advocacy and Ombudsman: Watching Out for the Interests of Small Businesses.” Resource Guide for Small Business 2015: 52. Print.


Smart Agencies Saved Billions, But Neglect Submitting Reinvestment Plans

According to United States Government Accountability Office,
Billions of Dollars in Savings Have Been Realized by Smart agencies, but they neglected one important key; to submit reinvestment plans. The Government Accountability Office found out that, twenty-four of the 26 federal agencies participating in the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) information technology (IT) reform initiatives reported achieving an estimated total of $3.6 billion dollars in cost savings and avoidances between fiscal years 2011 and 2014. Slightly more than half (or about $2.0 billion) of the savings and avoidances were from data center consolidation and optimization efforts. Notably, of the $3.6 billion total, the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury, and the Social Security Administration accounted for about $2.5 billion (or 69 percent).

Despite these savings, though, most agencies did not fully meet OMB’s requirements to submit reinvestment plan information. Of the 27 agencies required to submit either single or on-going reinvestment plans, 5 agencies had fully complied with the OMB’s guidance, while the remaining 22 had only partially implemented it if at all. For example, most agencies had not fully implemented OMB’s guidance for submitting one-time fiscal year 2014 IT reduction and reinvestment plans as part of OMB’s “cut and reinvest” effort. As a result, agencies’ plans were substantially short of OMB’s overall fiscal year 2014 targets of $7.6 billion in reductions and as much as $7.6 billion in reinvestments, only reaching $3.0 billion in proposed reductions and $2.1 billion in proposed reinvestments. Agencies provided a variety of reasons for not meeting OMB’s requirements, such as that their components had not fully tracked and reported how their savings were to be reinvested.

Auditors reported that, “Until agencies complete their ongoing reinvestment plans, they will be challenged to ensure that their considerable savings are being used in the most efficient and effective manner possible”.

Four selected agencies—the Departments of Education, Interior, Labor, and the Social Security Administration—had documented key governance processes to guide the development of their fiscal year 2014 budget submission, which included proposed IT reinvestments of $350 million, however, none of the four agencies had tracked the reinvestment performance results. The lack of performance tracking is also due to OMB not mandating that agencies document actual results. Additionally, OMB has not defined targets for reinvestments beyond fiscal year 2014. Until OMB requires agencies to track actual reinvestment performance and defines targets, it will be limited in its ability to ensure that agencies are actually reinvesting funds as planned and may not be able to hold them accountable. Without improved tracking, selected agencies may lack assurance that their components are reinvesting in areas consistent with agency-wide goals.

GAO recommended the federal chief information officer ensure that agencies complete reinvestment plans and require them to track where reinvested dollars are going.

 

Editors Note: Ideas referred from;


Moore, Jack. “AGENCIES SAVED BILLIONS BY CUTTING LOW-PRIORITY IT PROJECTS. BUT WHAT DID THEY DO WITH THE SAVINGS?”
Nextgov. N.p., 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 17 Sept. 2015.

 

The Progressive GSA

We’ve all heard it before: Experience is the best teacher. While this may be true, technology, through its rapid availability, improvement, provides highly effective solutions for a wide-range of issues that previously required extensive experience to resolve. Companies, organizations, and individuals are relying on innovative technological solutions more than ever to solve complex and multi-faceted issues such as home-buying, investment banking, and accelerated communication. Now, the United States General Services Administration (GSA) is following suit by adopting a forward thinking technological approach that will simplify the sale of technology to the government by new Information Technology Contractors.

Traditionally,  GSA has required that technology firms have at least two years of corporate experience, which is the agency’s current requirement for contractors to obtain a spot on the Schedule 70 — GSA’s list of approved Information Technology vendors, but in a new request for information (RFI), GSA is seeking advice about how the federal contracting system can be improved.

Instead of the two year experience mandate, GSA would instead require contracting agencies to submit a written description of their relevant experience as well as documentation demonstrating financial responsibility. By implementing this new measure, GSA could effectuate an increase of emerging small businesses to the Schedule 70, gain better access to innovative companies, transcend leading-edge technological solutions, and acquire a wider range of contracting options. The result would likely mean a proliferation of new contractors’ with the ability to meet sales criteria, among other measures.

So, how likely is it that GSA will repeal its two-year experience requirement? The answer may lie in the hands of contractors and their ability to use persuasive rhetoric to convince GSA to make a favorable decision. Indeed, until September, 18th 2015, GSA is collecting input from both public and private agencies by inquiring about the conceivable benefits of implementing such a reformative measure. According to NextGov.com, some of the specific subjects that contractors are urged to answer include:

  • What are the potential benefits and downsides to removing the two-year corporate experience requirement?
  • What other requirements or processes prevent businesses from obtaining a Schedule 70 contract?
  • What requirements and processes make it hard to work with the government even after getting a Schedule 70 contract?

Although GSA has yet to make a concrete decision regarding their new endeavor to repeal its two-year experience rule, small business contracting agencies, such as Sabre88, will remain hopeful in receiving positive news.

 

http://www.nextgov.com/technology-news/2015/09/gsa-tries-make-contracting-easier-suppliers/120236/?oref=dropdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Department of Defense on a Cloud Mission?

The Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) newly released Guide based on “Best Practices for DoD Cloud Mission Owners” gives us a hint of a big technological evolution taking place in the federal industry which was developed by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) for the Department of Defense (DoD).

According to Defense officials, moving to the cloud offers cost savings that the Department cannot get via other acquisition avenues. The objective of this mission is not only to deliver a cost efficient, secure and adaptive environment but also to achieve “confidentiality, integrity and availability” of the data. While in theory this sounds perfect, the key element missing in this guide is a way , “to compete a cloud contract under the new acquisition paradigm and how Department of Defense Mission Owners are supposed to select approved cloud providers and compete a contract among them.” The entire guide explains everything about the responsibilities, requirements, and standards but with no reference to specific guidelines, competing contractors should have a difficult time developing the proposals to deliver on the DoD’s needs.

Mr. Terry Halvorsen, DoD Chief Information Officer said, “Cloud computing plays a critical role in the Department’s IT modernization efforts. Our key objective is to deliver a cost efficient, secure enough enterprise environment (the security driven by the data) that can readily adapt to the Department’s mission needs. The Cloud will support the Department’s JIE with a robust IT capability built on an integrated set of Cloud services provided by both commercial providers and DoD Components. We will use a hybrid approach to Cloud that takes advantage of all types of Cloud solutions to get the best combination of mission effectiveness and efficiency. This means in some cases we will use a purely commercial solution, which we have done with Amazon on public facing data, in others we will use a modified private Cloud hosted in commercial solutions, an example could be a shared federal or federal state government Cloud, and for our most protected data a DoD private Cloud that uses best industry practices.”

Keeping the current market situation in mind, a plethora of cloud service providers exists. The prices for cloud services are dropping therein directly affecting the profit margins. In order to mitigate the risk and to leverage profit margins, vendors would need to generate volume. Former Federal CIO; Vivek Kundra, talked about “‘A $20 Billion Shift'” back in 2011″ which talks about how federal government could shave off $20 Billion of its spending by moving systems to cloud. Twenty billion dollars less would shrink the federal IT market to $66 billion per year, using the OMB’s base line estimate of annual IT spending. Sixty-six billion dollars per year raises a big question mark.

 

Editor’s Note: Idea referred from;


 

Rossino, Alexander. “Best Practices, Deflation, and Cloud Commoditization at the DoD.”
Deltek. B2G Essentials, 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 4 Sept. 2015.