Getting a DUNS number is FREE

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On December 3, 2013, I wrote a blog article regarding acquiring a DUNS number for FREE. Recently, we were hired by a client to assist them in applying for WBENC’s Womens Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification. Once of the first steps is to make certain that their DUNS information is accurate. In this case it was not, so I advised the client to contact DUNS to have it changed.

Client made the necessary calls and e-mailed me back telling me that the agency he called is asking $9,000 to make the changes happen. I automatically thought to myself that he did not call DUNS, rather a company not associated with them. The client also told me that he initially paid them $1,200 to obtain the DUNS number and that he feels he is being “extorted”. As our December 2013 articles states, getting a DUNS number is FREE. I then proceeded to give the correct DUNS contact information and within a few hours he changed his information to accurately reflect his current business structure.

I have decided to revisit the article I wrote in 2013 regarding the DUNS number again in hopes that Small Businesses do not fall in to the trap of paying companies misrepresenting themselves as Government Agencies. Small Businesses rely on Companies like ours to give them sound advice and help them grow their business and some posing as federal agencies give us a bad name.

Please visit our website at www.sbclending.com or call us with any questions.

 

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com paul@sbclending.com 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian

SBC Consultants, Inc.

www.sbclending.com

paul@sbclending.com

818-551-9400

Why are broker Dealers Ineligible to participate in the 8(a) program?

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Why are broker dealers ineligible to participate in the 8(a) program?

If you are labeled as a broker, but do not feel that you are, this article will help you understand how to get approved for the 8(a) certification and other programs by taking some important precautionary steps.

SBA wants success to come to every 8(a) approved firm. Making sure they will be successful is why the approval process is stringent. Based on the Federal Acquisition Regulation code FAR 124.08 “Brokers are ineligible to participate in the 8(a) BD program. A broker is a concern that adds no material value to an item being supplied to a procuring activity or which does not take ownership or possession of or handle the item being procures with its own equipment or facilities”.

Recently we were hired by two separate clients who happen to be in the same line of work, distributors of office products. One was applying for the 8(a) certification, while the other for Metro’s Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification. In both instances, client did not feel that they were brokers as defined by the SBA, but rather a dealer. A broker is a pass through entity which at times makes commission paid to them by the manufacturer or distributor. In this case, both parties made neither. The only flaw they possessed was that they did not stock inventory. This is of course the most important rule of being a broker, that they don’t keep stock of their products.

The office supply industry is a multi billion dollar industry and both companies receive orders from all over the United States and their customers demand delivery promptly, sometimes the next day. If they were to stock inventory, take order from customers thousand of miles away and deliver the next day, Small Businesses in this particular industry would not exist. In order for them to be able to do this, they will need to have multiple warehouses across the nation and stocking hundreds of thousand of dollars worth of daily inventory. This would make perfect sense for a company such as Hewlett Packard or Amazon, but most definitely not a Small Business.

We were able to get both companies approved. We did this by proving to each agency, that keeping that level of inventory was not viable. Thus, we also provided the SBA and Metro with current levels of inventory held as well as receipts and invoices of purchase orders made. In addition, we provided the shipment charges made by the clients proving that their products were housed at the manufacturers warehouse and later shipped to the customer along with pictures of the inventory etc.

When applying for any type of certification, particularly the ones mentioned above, and if your business may be labeled as a broker but you clearly are not, an explanation will be needed. It is important to answer and questions they may have with actual data proving you are not a broker.

To learn more about our services, please visit www.sbclending.com.

 

Paul Mazbanian CEO Small Business Community Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com
Paul Mazbanian
CEO
Small Business Community Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com

What is SAM and should you pay someone to register you?

 

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System For Award Management also referred to as SAM is a system the Federal Government uses to identify potential contractors. It is also the system which is required to register with do do any type of business with the Federal Government.

As usual, we get calls from clients hiring us for different certifications. Part of the process required for Federal Certifications as noted above, is to register the clients business in to SAM. Recently we received two distinct client calls.

The first client desires to become certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise or WBE. After explaining to her the requirements she told me that she paid a company $1,600 to register them in to SAM. Our services as a whole, including the WBE Certification which includes SAM does not cost $1,600. In addition, after a thorough review of their SAM profile, not only was their business being misrepresented, but their SBA profile was not created which pretty much makes them invisible to Government buyers. In short the $1,600 was put to waste.

The second example was from a call we received from a client hiring us for the WBE and WOSB Certifications. The client had once again paid this firm a ridiculous amount of money greater than what we were charging for both certifications combined which also included SAM. Once again, after a thorough review of their SAM profile, their profile was incorrectly being represented and their SBA profile was nonexistent. This client however, reached out to us just as her SAM profile was due for renewal, and she had been contacted by the same company to renew their profile for $599. I explained to the client that the SAM renewal will take no more than 10 minutes and that I will do it at no charge. The client was extremely happy that I had just saved her almost $600.

The reason I am writing this article today is to let you know that the SAM registration is FREE. The two clients mentioned above told us that the reason they paid those amounts was because they thought they were speaking to a Federal Agency, which leads me to believe that companies posing as a Federal Agency but not actually representing themselves as such on their website are taking advantage of Small Businesses and the limited resources they have. The money spent may have been put to good use if, 1. the SAM registration was done correctly and 2. their SBA profile was completed properly. Regardless, $1,600 and even $600 is too much to pay for registering with SAM.

Things to Consider:

1. When you are being solicited, remember that anything that ends in .GOV is legitimate and anything which ends in .com, .net, .org etc. are solicitors and are not part of the Government. We have NEVER charged separately for registering a client with SAM.

2. If you do hire someone, make certain your profile is correctly representing your business.

3. Make certain your SBA profile has been created successfully in order to have the greatest presence with Government agencies.

Please take a moment to visit our website and learn more about our services: www.sbclending.com

CEO Small Buisness Community Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com paul@sbclending.com

CEO
Small Business Community Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com
paul@sbclending.com

Government Contracting Basics

Are you currently bidding on contracts or looking to get into the game of bidding on contracts? Perhaps, you are not interested in government contracts?

Well below are a few reasons why being certified and bidding on contracts is essential.

Business who don’t bid on contracts:

During time of uncertainty, consumers are looking to do business with people they can trust. Money is scarce nowadays, and people are weary about spending as frequently as before. Gaining a new customer is the most difficult business activity. This is because you as the service provider must convince the consumer that not only are you trustworthy, bur rather you can get the job done at a reasonable price.

What makes someone choose one service over another? Most of you would say price is a key deciding factor, which is true, but people are willing to pay a little more for quality. For instance, a friend of mine owns an Insurance company. He mostly sells Business and personal insurance. After having multiple discussions with him regarding his business, he always tells me that he is not the cheapest price in town. The reason for his success has been due to the LEGITAMACY he has been able to establish within his peers. People are willing to pay a little extra for his knowledge, knowing that they will get service unmatched by even a cheaper competitor.

Imagine for instance that you need to purchase a custom made machine from a manufacturer. You have two options: 1. a company that has been in business for 5 years or 2: a company that has been in business for 5 years but is Federally Certified.

Being designated as a certified business with the State or Federal Government gives you LEGITAMCY.

Businesses who do bid on contracts:

Those businesses who do bid on contracts will find that becoming certified by the State or the Federal Government will allow them to bid on new opportunities not available to them before. Both the State and Federal Government has set aside funds for certified companies. State and Federal agencies are required by to designate a percentage of their contracts to certified agencies. This not only increases your chances of getting new contracts, but it allows you to do it with less competition increasing your chances of winning the bid.

For Example: If there are 1000 machinists in the city, they would all be able to bid on a particular contract that the Government makes available. Some are larger then others giving them the advantage of underbidding their smaller competitors and winning the bid. What if from those 1000 machinists only 100 were certified with the Government as a Small Business? You will only be competing against 100 competitors rather then 1000, significantly increasing your chances to compete in a fairer playing field.

As Small Business owners we all need help to get ahead, and become certified with the State or Federal Government will allow you to significantly increase future revenues.

Visit our Certifications page HERE.

Paul Mazbanian (2011 SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year – Los Angeles District Office)
SBC Lending
http://www.sbclending.com/

Is price a determining factor when hiring a Consultant to assist with your Government Certifications?

As a Business owner, I understand the importance of keeping costs down to maintain the highest amount of profits within company. When I realize I need someones services, I do my research to find who the best person is to take on the task. Pricing is always an issue and I want to get the best price I can for what I’m paying for. However, there are boundaries that I do not cross.

Here are some thoughts on how to hire a consultant:

  1. What is your budget?
  • Hiring a consultant costs money. Although you want the best price, we do need to get paid. That is how we stay in business.
  • Research the certification(s) you aspire on getting, talking to different consultants on their process and how long it takes to complete, it must be within your budget?
  • Example: If you are looking to purchase a new computer and your budget is $1,000, do you look at computers worth more than that?

2. What Certifications are you seeking?

  • Not all Certifications are created equal. Certifications vary in complexity. Some take less time while others like the 8a are complex and require lots of work.
  • As consultants we have a threshold on what we can charge to make the work worth our while.

I received a call from a prospective client last week seeking the 8a certification. Mind you, it takes anywhere between 20-60 hours to complete depending on owners, affiliate businesses etc. The client wanted to pay the same price as the Women Owned Small Business Certification program.

Every week ,we receive phone calls from prospective clients seeking our services. We are always eager to help other Small Businesses achieve greater success. We typically give more information than we need to in order to gain more confidence from them. There are times, however, that realizing your request and the expertise involved, will come at a price.

Last week I received a call from a client calling me to compare prices. That of course in itself is fine, but knowing the experience and expertise involved, you need to respect the person on the other end. I never compromise my skills and experience. I am always looking to learn new things, but when someone is an expert in their field, with proven results, you need to respect that.

There is no

Which Goverment Certifications to apply for first

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 Obtaining a Government Certification for your business can a confusing process. Which certifications to apply for and which ones would benefit you most?

You must first identify with whom you would like to do business with? Have you seen more bids with the Federal or State Governments? Your answer may be either one or both., If so, we recommend you apply for all, however this may be time consuming and although will help you in the long run, may not be an immediate priority.

Let’s assume for a moment that you would benefit from both the Federal and State Certifications. We recommend you apply for the easiest ones first, in order to get in to the game now. This will allow you to begin working on marketing your firm as a certified agency.

Below is a list of Certifications and their complexities:

Federal:

1. SBA’s Women Owned Small Business (WOSB): EASY

    The WOSB is one of the easiest certifications to obtain. This is because it is a designation rather than an actual certificate. Obtaining the WOSB Certification will allow you to bid on the 5% set-asides for those businesses designated as WOSB. The process is EASY because there is not physical application process. The requirements are that you register with the various Government sites and upload documents to the repository self-certifying your firm.

2. Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE): MEDIUM

   The WBE is a certification reserved for Women owned businesses only. It mimics the WOSB certification but is verified by one of 5 SBA approved agencies. This certification has a more complex process than the WOSB because it requires a full application and supporting documentation. Your information will go through a process with the agency and you wil be visited by a representative assuring your business indeed is what you represent. I typically advise our clients to obtain this certification if it is being required by a vendor. A physical certificate is issued to the applicant firm.

3. Minority Business Enterprise (MBE): MEDIUM

   The MBE is a national certification given by the National Minority Supplier Development Council. They are one of the nations leading corporate membership organizations. They match a firms goods and services with those of large corporations who intern purchase your product. Think of it as a club where members help each other by purchasing each others product. This certification includes an application and supporting documentation much like the WBE above.

4. SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program: DIFFICULT

   The SBA 8(a) program is the most lucrative and most difficult to achieve. There are approximately 7,000 approved 8(a) firms in the country. 23% of all Federal Contracts MUST go to 8(a) certified firms. Secondly, an 8(a) certified firm is eligible for soul source awards which means that once they have built their reputation in the program they may get contracts without even bidding against other 8(a) certified firms. Thirdly, if certified and bidding against a non-8(a) certified firm, you will get a 5% bidding preference giving you an advantage over your competitive bidder. The process may take anywhere between 3-6 months depending on how much information is requested by the SBA. For those looking for the greatest benefit, the 8(a) certification allows you to grow your business significantly.

STATE:

1. Metro’s Disadvantage Business Enterprise: MEDIUM

   The DBE certification is the States premier certification allowing 25% of all state set-asides to be reserved for certified firms. Most people think Metro is the subway and bus systems, but contracts are given to a variety of industries. We have seen them as diversified as ink jet suppliers and marketing. So to think that if you are a service business and don’t qualify think again. Having this certification is a big deal and if obtained will open new doors for you. The process includes an application and supporting documentation to be mailed to the certifying agency. approval can take up to 3 months.

2. Department of General Services Small Business and Disabled Veterans Certification (SB)/(DVBE): EASY

   The Department of General Services serves as the business manager for the State of California. They offer two certifications, the SB and DVBE. Both are online based certifications. Typical certification time can be within a few hours or weeks depending on the type of industry. For instance, service based businesses can be certified very quickly while manufacturing companies need to upload documentation which then needs to be verified by a DGS officer. The DVBE certification is reserved for veterans who are at least 10% disabled and honorably discharged. Documents such as dd214 and discharge papers need to be uploaded.

3. Supplier Clearinghouse Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification: EASY

   Supported by The  California Public Utility Commission (CPUC), which regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications, water, railroad, rail transit, and passenger transportation companies. The MBE certification is an online based certification which is fairly easy to do. Certification can take up to 2 weeks depending on the complexity of the applicant.

Click on HERE to view our video testimonials.

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400

When should you get a Government Certification to grow your business

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When is the right time to become Federally or State approved for a particular Business Certification?

We frequently get calls from businesses asking us to certify them for a specific certification after one of their vendors asks them for it. This poses a few problems. First, depending on the certification being requested, it can take some time getting certified. Recently we received a call from a local business asking us to help them get certified for the Federal WBE certification. One of their vendors was requesting they have the certification so that they can justify giving their contracts to a WBE certified firm. We were then notified that they need to be certified in two weeks. The agency themselves will need up to 90 days to review the application and approve the company, so getting them approved within a two week time frame was impossible. Although the client did hire us to proceed, they did lose that contracting opportunity.

when should you apply for a Certification?

The time to apply is NOW. If you are aggressively seeking Government work, there will come a time when one of your vendors will request for a certification to justify giving you the contract. Your company should always be ready to jump on an opportunity to bid and win a contract. If you wait until the last minute, the opportunity will be lost.

Important things to consider?

1. Do you want to work with the Federal or State Governments?

2. What Certifications do you qualify for?

3. What certifications would benefit you now?

4. Which certifications will benefit you in the future?

Please visit our Video Testimonials page HERE

 

* SBC Consultants, Inc. is a Los Angeles based consulting firm focusing on assisting Small Business obtain their Federal and State Certifications. Our products include but are not limited to: SBA 8a Certification, WOSB, WBE, DBE, MBE and SB Certifications.

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400

Waiver of the SBA 8(a) 2 year rule

 

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For those applying for the SBA 8(a) Business Development program, you have heard of the 2 year rule. In this article I will be discussing the 5 steps an individual needs to take to waive the 2 year rule.

Not all businesses need to be in business for 2 years to apply for the 8(a) program. Some individuals may feel the need to become a part of the program prior to 2 years. The SBA feels that 2 years is a good amount of time for a business to gain experience and have enough revenue to participate successfully in the 8(a) program. But what if you dont have 2 years under your belt? What do you do? Do you wait or do you apply?

The SBA has 5 requirements that they recommend a business possesses when applying under the 2 year rule.

They Are:

1.        The individual or individuals upon whom eligibility is based have substantial business management experience.

2.        The applicant has demonstrated technical experience to carry out its business plan with a substantial likelihood for success if                         admitted to the 8(a) BD program.

3.        The applicant has adequate capital to sustain its operations and carry out its business plan as a Participant.

4.        The applicant has a record of successful performance on contracts from governmental or nongovernmental sources in its                                 primary industry category; and

5.        The applicant has, or can demonstrate its ability to timely obtain, the personnel, facilities, equipment, and any other requirements               needed to perform contracts as a Participant.

Please visit our website at www.sbclending.com/ to learn more about our services.

 

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400

The 8(a) Social Disadvantage Eligibility Explained

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One important requirement  of the 8(a) Certification is that you meet not only the Economic definition of disadvantage but also the Social definition of disadvantage.

What does it mean to become Socially Disadvantaged?

For the purposes of the 8(a) program, the SBA deems certain minority sectors as Socially Disadvantaged. This is because, throughout the course of history, the SBA feels that certain groups have been discriminated against and therefore have not had the same opportunities as others. These presumed groups are:

  • Black Americans
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Asian Pacific Americans
  • Subcontinent Asian American

If you do not find yourself in one of these groups, you may still apply for the 8(a) certification as long you prove to the SBA how you have been held back. “To do so, the business must prove to SBA that the individual(s) meeting SBA’s ownership and control requirements is socially disadvantaged. This process includes showing personal experiences where applicable in education, employment, and business history.”

There is no getting around this easily, so making up stories will not work. The SBA is very strict when they say proof must be given through a preponderance of evidence. To prove social disadvantage, the individual owners must ultimately show that such personal experiences had a negative impact on entry into or advancement in the business world.

Evidence Requested by the SBA for those not included in any of the above presumed groups:

  • At least one objective distinguishing feature such as race, ethnic origin, gender, physical handicap, long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society, or other similar causes not common to individuals who are not socially disadvantaged.
  • Personal experiences of substantial and chronic social disadvantage in American society, not in other countries.
  • Negative impact on the individual’s entrance into the business world or advancement in the business world because of the stated disadvantage(s).
Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

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Most people don’t understand how becoming certified as an 8(a) firm can help propel their business to the next stage of success. Becoming approved as an 8(a) firm is like being in a fraternity or sorority. Those who have had those great experiences in college know that it is a brotherhood or sisterhood. They help each other, can understand each others needs and struggles etc. To date, there are only 10,000 approved 8(a) firms in the Unites States. You can just imagine from all the millions of Small Business in the United States what a small fraction that is. That being said, let’s get down and dirty with some hard core facts about why Minority owned businesses need to get certified.

The 8(a) program was created in order to give minority owned business a fair opportunity to bid against larger firms. The United States Government feels that Minorities in this country have not had the same opportunities that non-minorities have had. In order for Minorities to compete in a specific Industry, the Government has created programs, and if utilized correctly, can help advance a Minority Owned Business.

One of those programs, and the largest one at that, is the 8(a) Business Development Program.

FACTS ABOUT THE 8(A) PROGRAM:

  1. The 8(a) program has been dedicated 5% of all Federal procurement budgets. This means that $18.5 Billion dollars a year is reserved for 8(a) certified firms.
  2. Sole-Sourcing Contracts: This is the most attractive to me. $8.5 Billion Dollars is given to sole source awards. That is, a firm does not compete with any other firms. Even 8(a) firms. It is awarded solely to them. (More on how to get sole-source awards toward the bottom).
  3. Competitive 8(a): The remaining 10 Billion  Dollars are up for bidding between 8(certified) firms only.

More on Sole Source Awards:

In order for an 8(a) firm to be eligible for sole source awards, they need to have experience in the 8(a) program and plenty of it.  The Government wants to make sure that the sole source awards are given to firms who have been successful in the program and can handle the work load given to them.

How do you get sole source awards?

First, new firms need to gain experience by entering joint venture agreements with other firms or by entering mentor-protege agreements provided the 8(a) firm does 40% of the work and makes 40% of the profits. By working this way for some time, it helps the firm in to becoming a Federal Prime Contractor. Once you have worked as a prime contractor and proven yourself, you will then be able to get sole source contracts.

Limits for Sole Source Contracts:

1. $4 million fir products/services

2. $6 Million for manufacturing

I hope the above explained the REAL benefits in getting an 8(a) Certifications. It is not easy by all means but if there is a will, there is a way.

Paul Mazbanian SBC Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com/ paul@sbclending.com/ 818-551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
SBC Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com/
paul@sbclending.com/
818-551-9400