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Denise Fisher

Small Business Consultant for Govt Contractors

47

3

Fisher Solutions - Teaching Small Businesses How to Fish (for government contracts)

Business Model

My company is a consulting business for government contractors. My business model seeks out small businesses, (primarily through networking, training sessions, and informational postings online), who are just starting or who are growing to the next step of pursuing federal contracts, and assists them in learning and setting up systems to comply with contract requirements (especially 8(a) construction contractors). I provide audits, checklists, and structured processes to help these companies put together the legal, financial, and administrative infrastructure they need, so that they can focus on providing their core products and services. A unique feature of my business model is the accountability package, in which a project fee is broken down into tasks with line item pricing. The customer has the incentive of a payback for each task they complete or partially complete on their own, which gives them control over the final fee they pay. Whether they complete the tasks themselves or pay the full price to have someone do it for them, they end up with deliverable they need.

Assets

I have a modest, but adequate amount of startup capital, a home office setup in the Washington DC area, and basic office equipment and technology devices. I will need to acquire a newer vehicle for travel within the area, but my initial asset requirements are minimal for my business model.

Human Resources

I am currently using my own personal skills, energy, and expertise to develop the business processes, sample documents, and marketing materials needed to get things going. Once I get these basic items in place, I will concentrate my efforts on going out to get business, and possibly set up training seminars or brief brown bag lunch presentations or online webinars to recruit prospects. I have an accountant to start with, but I see the upcoming need for some additional services, that I expect to hire out as contractors initially: 1) Bookkeeping and administrative support, 2) IT support and consultation, 3) Subject matter experts in the compliance areas I’m dealing with (Safety, Quality Control, Accounting, Contracting/Procurement, Proposal Development, Human Resources) that I can consult or hire out for specialty services or to take overflows of work. These resources will be integral associates for my business model. 

Target Market & Benefits Provided

My customer, as I initially perceive him/her, is a small business owner who has an established business, but who is not totally familiar with the federal contracting system and compliance requirements. A likely customer for my services may have a construction company with commercial experience and basic knowledge of safety and quality, but does not have a structured safety program, quality control program, or trained and certified personnel to perform these required management roles. By doing business  with me, this customer would get the systems, documentation, and guidance to establish these and other contract requirements. This would give the customer confidence, assurance, and a marketing advantage to pursue and execute federal contracts. By hiring out these tasks to me, the business owner could then spend less time on the compliance learning curve, and more time on performing the core business services.

Anticipated Difficulties, Differentiation, and Repeatability

The most difficult part of this is distilling all my knowledge, skills, and experience into a manageable product and making it presentable to someone in an easily understandable way. Additionally, I’m finding that creating streamlined processes to use (along with standard checklists, documents, and customer tracking systems) is quite taxing and time-consuming, especially when working alone.

Fortunately, the difficult parts of these startup tasks are the very things that will make my business services structured and repeatable (and will eventually allow me to scale the business by providing processes that I can hire others to do).

There are three aspects of my business model that will make it unique.

First is the comprehensive nature of the compliance services that are provided under one umbrella. Usually, a company has to struggle through figuring out the compliance requirements and how to implement them, along with the supporting documentation that’s required. They might hire a safety specialist to create the company’s Safety Program, work with an accountant to help write up Internal Controls, or use a tech support person to secure backups of computer files, but there is not really a service provider that can integrate these services (which have overlapping issues that must avoid contradiction) or present these requirements in one package. All the government requirements make the contracting business complicated and somewhat intimidating, and most business owners find the administrative and compliance tasks distracting from the services that they really know and want to provide (e.g., construction).

Secondly, is the way I intend to provide my services. Instead of coming in to a company and just doing the needed service (say, putting together a Quality Control Plan for an awarded project), I teach people how to do the service (by taking them through the process as it’s developed for their initial project), so that they can then do it on their own, rather than hiring out these tasks each time they get a new contract. Also, by helping them develop their own programs and policies, they are able to articulate their programs in future bids, and can document their policies to financial auditors, government and commercial customers, vendors, financial institutions, insurance and bonding companies, as well as even potential business partners. This will make the companies more efficient and professional (saving them money in productivity costs as well as in savings in rates – such as insurance and lending rates - as demonstrated by their established policies), and will make them more marketable to other customers who are looking for a professional company that has done its homework and is capable of doing the job.

Thirdly, is the unique pricing structure of the accountability package. As described elsewhere, this service package allows the customer to get a full price professionally prepared deliverable OR to participate in preparing a plan that the customer has been meaning to do on their own, but hasn’t gotten around to doing yet. If the customer can do some of the tasks on their own, they can discount the cost of the services (and still get a professional review), or let my business do all the work for them at the full price. It’s a win-win, as the customer has some control of the price, (based on how much work they are able to contribute), and will end up with the final deliverable, whichever way it is accomplished.

Services and Deliverables

Business Planning & Compliance

  • Audits of Existing Systems & Programs
  • Business Plans & SBA Annual Updates
  • Internal Controls
  • Codes of Ethics, Conduct & Compliance
  • Management & Operations Plans
  • Organizational Structures
  • Capability Statements
  • Marketing Materials & Website Content
  • Technical Proposals for Government Solicitations (Construction, Design-Build specialty)

Construction Quality & Safety Programs

  • Quality Control Plans & Programs
  • Accident Prevention Plans
  • Activity Hazard Analyses
  • Company Safety Program
  • Safety Investigations & Reports
  • Contract Specifications & Modifications

Human Resource Processes

  • Employee Handbooks & Policies
  • Recruitment & Hiring Plans
  • Affirmative Action Plans
  • Orientation/New Hire/Training
  • EEO Complaints & Resolutions
  • Professional Resumes

 

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