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My Year-long Ordeal With the GSA

This is a story of pain, suffering, persistence, and ultimately…SUCCESS…well, of a sort!

Last July, I decided that I wanted to sell my training and professional development, and my business coaching services to the U.S. Government. The Government is supposed to have all this money, right? So why shouldn’t I try to help train their people, and profit in the exchange?

First off, to sell “ANYTHING” to our Government, you have to submit what’s called a solicitation (kind of like a proposal.) There are soliitations for hundreds if not thousands of products & services. In order to sell to the Government, you FIRST need to have certain things. You have t have been in operation as a business for 24 months. You need to be able to report two years’ worth of financial performance for your business.

You also have to have your business registered with your state and have a taxpayer identification number. Next up, you also need a Dun & Bradstreet DUNS number (no worries, that’s FREE.) Go to https://www.dnb.com.

So, it takes me MONTHS to get through the process of completing ALL of the written documents (imagine pulling your lower lip over the back of your head) struggling the entire way. There is no one to walk you through the process. You have to read the hundreds of pages worth of instructions yourself. There are no Cliff Notes or little yellow book: “Selling to the U.S. Government For Dummies.”

After sbmitting my 25-page application last July, I received a rejection letter indicating the MANY areas that I incorrectly answered or failed to provide and information on.

So, being a glutton for punishment, I go back and rewrite the entire document (now approximately 50 pages LONG) and send it certified mail to the corrct GSA contract administrator in early July, 2010. Somehow, the document gets LOST on their end. I am informed that it really doesn’t matter that they lost it, since as of July, 2010 all solicitations can only be submitted ONLINE.


About to give up, I get a call a few weeks ago from my GSA contractor that he has located my solicitation (sitting on a fellow staffer’s desk). My GSA guy Joe (his real name) reviewed it, and gave me invaluable insights into additional areas I needed to fix. If not for Joe, I’d be DEAD!

I spend nearly a month completing it then save the document (now @ 100 pages)as a PDF then go to the website (https://eoffer.gsa.gov) to upload it. Turns out in order to send anything to the Government electronically, you need a digital certificate to authenticate who you are. So, I now have to pay $200 for the certificate, but in for a penny, in for a pound (of flesh!)

I get this electronic digital certificate a few weeks later, save all the documents then I go back to the website and hit another wall. For some reason they have me attempting to file the wrong solicitation – it’s not for the right services I want to sell. After a half day calling their “HOTLINE” where I speak with a moron “Service Rep” who accuses ME of not following directions since they cannot answer my questions, I get a Supervisor that actually DOES know what she’s doing. I finally get all my issues resolved.

So, as of 12:55PM Eastern standard time on Wednesday, August 18, 2010 I have now officially submitted a request to sell my services to the Government.

I even received an emal confirmation!

Can a rejection notification be FAR behind? STAY TUNED…

John Lennon's Song "IMAGINE"

Now more than ever, we as a society need to start thinking like this…

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Great Resources for Biz Owners & Entrepreneurs

Following are useful resources for business leaders, entreprenuers, professionals interested in starting their own business or executives looking for additional support:

1) Business Ideas
a. www.business-idea.com
b. www.coolbusinessideas.com

2) Women & Minorities
a. www.wbenc.org
b. www.NAWBO.org
c. www.sba8a.com

3) Industry Research:
a. https://forum.researchinfo.com
b. https://business.statelibrary.sc.gov/images/6/65/Business_Research_Workshop_Resource_List-SC.pdf

4) Business Resources:
a. Market Research
b. MapStat
c. www.BusinessBalls.com
d. www.timethoughts.com/goalsetting/vision-statements.htm

5) Customer Research/Surveys:
a. Zoomerang
b. Survey Monkey

6) Develop Strategic Plans, Business Plans & Financial Statements
a. NYC Business Solutions Center (SEEDCo): www.seedco.org
b. Small Business Development Centers

c. https://articles.bplans.com/category/writing-a-business-plan
d. www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/plan/writeabusinessplan/index.html
e. www.onepagebusinessplan.com/about.html
f. www.ehow.com/how_4421284_format-income-statement.html
g. https://entrepreneurs.suite101.com/article.cfm/how_to_create_an_income_statement

7) General Management
a. www.businessmanagementdaily.com
b. American Management Assn.

8) Marketing & Product Development:
a. www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/term/82498.html
b. www.persuasivebrands.com/showpagecontent.aspx?pagename=Brand_Definition
c. https://resources.bnet.com/topic/product+development.html
d. www.productdevelopmentstrategies.com/blog
e. www.slideshare.net/nusantara99/new-product-development-strategy
f. www.knowthis.com/principles-of-marketing-tutorials/managing-products
g. https://resources.bnet.com/topic/product+life+cycle.html
h. www.websitemarketingplan.com
i. American Marketing Assn.
j. Direct Marketing Assn.
k. Business Marketing Assn.

9) General Business Information
a. US Small Business Administration
b. National Business Information Clearinghouse
c. Microsoft Small Biz Ctr: www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/hub.mspx
d. CNN Money – https://smallbusiness.blogs.cnnmoney.cnn.com

10) Social Media
a. Mashable
b. SocialMediaGovernance.com

11) Entrepreneurial Pursuits
b. www.myownbusiness.org
c. www.Entrepreneur.com
d. www.Entrepreneurship.org
e. Smart Entrepreneur – www.smartentrepreneur.net
f. Entrepreneur Week: www.nycentweek.com
g. www.psw-ny.com/documents/WP1-BeforeNegotiations-031307.pdf
h. www.psw-ny.com/documents/WP4-StartUpMap-063008F.pdf
i. www.psw-ny.com/documents/PDF-WP3-InvestableBusCase-092506F.pdf
j. https://blog.entrepreneur.com
k. www.entrepreneurship.org/PolicyForum/Blog/post/2010/01/28/Tapping-your-
Entrepreneurial-IQ.aspx
l. www.elientrepreneur.com

12) Franchising
a. International Franchising Assn. www.franchise.org
b. www.masterfranchisewealth.com/4436.html
c. IFA Annual Conference – www.franchise.org/convention.aspx

13) Networking:
a. MeetUp.com
b. LinkedIn.com
c. National Small Biz Assn: www.nsba.biz
d. Chambers of Commerce
e. Rotary Clubs
f. Kiwanis Clubs
g. Twitter
h. StumbleUpon
i. FourSquare
j. MySpace
k. Delicious
l. Digg

14) Investors
a. www.youngstartup.com
b. NY Angels: www.newyorkangels.com
c. LI Angels: https://liangels.angelgroups.net

15) Business Incubators (NY fous)
b. Biz. Incubator Assn. of NY State: https://bianys.com
c. Brooklyn Biotech: https://research.downstate.edu/incubator.htm
d. NYC BioScience Initiative: www.nycbiotech.org/east_river.html
e. LI High Tech Incubator: https://www.lihti.org
f. Your local area Colleges & Universities

What resources would you recommend?

Sell Yourself for Career Success

Build Your Personal Brand: A brand is something that is truly memorable, unique, and invaluable. What is your personal BRAND? HINT – it’s not a job title or functional area you worked in for most of your career. When you are competing with thousands of other job seekers with similar backgrounds, you MUST be able to set yourself apart through your USP.

Find your DREAM JOB: Align your Passions and Strengths: the areas that overlap between what you are best at and what you are most passionate about constitute the fertile field of a potential DREAM JOB!

Learn to sell yourself in 3-5 seconds during networking events as a set of 3-4 key bullet points that highlight your USP – unique selling proposition.

Develop a strategic networking plan: Identify who the person is that you would report to in your dream job, find out where they congregate in-person and online, and get yourself “in-front” of them.

The Marketing 5Ps of YOU: sell yourself using the traditional marketer 5-P mix of product (your features & benefits), price (know your worth), place (getting yourself in front of the right people (develop a strategic networking plan), promotion (how to sell yourself as a BRAND using your USP and Marketing 5Ps), and your packaging (dress for success.)

Develop your personal marketing plan including your core competencies, 3-4 ideal industries, 6-8 target firms in each of those industries (18-32 organizations you should be proactively targeting at any ONE point in time), your ideal employer culture with attributes, your ideal work locations.

Identify your personal product: the product of YOU is the comprehensive set of features and benefits including: your collective past & present work and life experiences, exposure to different cultures, experiences travelling and/or living/studying abroad, your subject matter areas that you studied in High School and college/University, certifications, training, accreditations, professional affiliations, volunteer work…EVERYTHING that makes you the person you are.

Get more exposure for yourself online by blogging, posting comments in discussions your peers and potential bosses are contributing to, submit articles to all of the relevant publications being read by people in the industries you want to target and potential employers, start groups in Meet Up and LinkedIn comprised of professionals that share your career objectives and interests.

What do you think?

When Did America Officially Sell It's Soul?

As a career coach and business consultant, it is my mission to help people from all backgrounds to find their dream job, and teach business owners how to unleash the untapped talents of their workers, to gain competitive advantage.

It’s a job that I love, and it took me twenty years to FIND. It requires me to always find the bright side of life, while I teach others how to turn life’s lemons into lemonade. I am always encouraging people to reinvent themselves, pursue lifelong learning, build a portfolio of transferable skills, and develop strong social and professional networks. In these times, I also push people to market themselves and develop a unique personal brand as a selling proposition.

I must admit that it has become extremely difficult to continue to encourage others, to have faith that things will improve. So many aspects of the Great American Enterprise are broken these days. For starters, our banks and financial institutions have been stealing from Americans and lying to us about it for so long, that it has become an accepted part of the Great American lie. And we allow it to continue.

Michael Douglas’s character Gordon Gekko in the movie “Wall Street” seems tame in comparison to the likes of today’s “leaders” at Adelphia, Tyco, Enron, Global Crossing, Bernie Madoff, Goldman Sachs, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, etc.

For 30 years we have seen our manufacturing and industrial base erode, as American companies embraced the self-destructive policy of outsourcing, off-shoring, downsizing, and re-engineering what were deemed to be non-essential business fucntions. We were going to become a service and technology driven economy. Or so we thought. Guess what? We have become a post-industrialized nation that doesn’t make anything anymore.

The Conference Board recently reported that America’s college educated workforce dropped from its #1 ranking out of 36 industrialized nations in math and science scores, to a mid-tier ranking of #12.

Our american small businesses have for decades been a key driving force behind American jobs creation. Small business owners no longer have the incentive or financial wherewithall to hire new employees.

One in four American workers can now be classified as independent, contract, consultants, and more americans than ever before are living paycheck to paycheck. Most of our states are dangerously close to becoming bankrupt, and we as a society numb ourselves with an overdsose of reality TV to cope with it all.

When did we get like this? Why are we allowing a college education to cost $200,000? Why do we let ourselves be misled by a two-party political system that has stopped serving our needs and interests?

Unofficial uemployment rates are between 15-20%, and jobs traditionally filled by high school and college students are being staffed by workers in their 30s and 40s.

This needs to stop. We need a “Wake Up in America” program for the 21st Century. Who will lead us?

Gap Falls WAY Short on Customer Svc

Yesterday, my wife and daughter went shopping at a major retail outlet center in northern New Jersey, an hour away from our home. They found themselves in a Gap store, and proceeded to purchase several items. My wife discovered this morning that the cashier left one of those anti-theft, plastic jaws of death attached to a pair of pants.

So, my wife calls the store this morning, to request that the store send her a return envelope with the postage pre-paid. She would send back the pants in that envelope, so they could remove the tag and return the pants to her. The Store Manager refused to do so. She told my wife that she needs to pay to have the merchandise shipped back to the Gap, then the Gap would either mail the pants back to her (one assumes sans security tag) or they would credit our account.

My wife tells the Manager that since the Gap employee failed to remove the tag, the store should mail us the necessary envelope with the return postage paid by them, to return the item. After refusing to accommodate her request, they tell my wife she should call Gap’s Corporate HQ if she wished to file a complaint. Of course, the store manager doesn’t have the Gap’s corporate HQ contact details (it’s GAP, 2 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA, tel. # 650.952.4400.

My wife calls Gap’s Corporate Headquarters, only to be “greetd” by an automated response system. After spending an hour on hold, she FINALLY gets a live representative, who tells her she needs to transafer my wife to another “service” rep. Before my wife can object, she is transferred and of course gets hung up on.

Way to go, Gap! Congratulations on reaching the highest levels of American corporate service, held by such customer care-driven organizations as Dell, Verizon, Sears, and your local cable company.