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Contracting with Metro

 

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On October 1st 2015, I wrote an article about a friend of mine, who after three years of convincing, finally saw an opportunity to contract with Metro. To explain to you the diversity of contracts available with Metro, my friend is a videographer, and this particular contract was to be for a three year contracting opportunity to video and edit various Metro commercials. In the article, I explained how we were able to get my friend approved within a two week time frame. We did this by opting in to the expedited application process which Metro allows if there is a specific bid available which they need the certification for. During the waiting period for approval, we had to work diligently to prepare the Request For Proposal (RFP), so that once he was approved for Metros Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE), we can submit his bid on time.

 

We received the notification of his DBE approval just in time for us to be eligible for the bid. About a month later, my friend called me with great excitement notifying me of the contract he was awarded for three years at nearly $15,000 a video. For a Small Business, getting any type of customer is crucial, but receiving an award to work on projects for a Government entity opens up new doors which will not only bring legitimacy to his company but also open doors to work with other agencies due to the resume he has started to build with Metro.

 

Paul Mazbanian CEO Small Business Community Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com (818)551-9400
Paul Mazbanian
CEO
Small Business Community Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com
(818)551-9400

Be careful who you hire to assist with your Certifications

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I recently gave a presentation to an organization called, Women’s Presidents Organization. They are a nationwide group consisting of various chapter throughout each state. Each group consists of successful Women entrepreneurs who have monthly meeting and discuss various topics on how to grow their businesses.

A few days ago, I received a phone call from one of the members whom I had the pleasure of meeting during the presentation. She told me that she recently hired a company in Florida prior to her meeting me.  She decided to hire this company and as time went on, she began to notice charges unrelated to the agreement she had signed with them. This prompted her to do some research on the representative she hired.

Unfortunately for her, she was notified that this individual has a prior record of being a sex offender. This information was shocking to her. Had she known of his criminal background, she would have never hired them. It is unclear what she will do, due to the contractual obligation she now has with them.

The moral of this article is to be certain the people you hire, are honest and transparent, therefore resulting in a good business relationship with positive results.

 

Paul Mazbanian CEO Small Business Community Consultants, Inc. www.sbclending.com (818)551-9400

Paul Mazbanian
CEO
Small Business Community Consultants, Inc.
www.sbclending.com
(818)551-9400

Metro’s DBE Certification

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As Business Owners, we always try to promote and brand ourselves to everyone we can. This includes but is not limited to, other business owners, family, friends etc. We get particularly excited when a close friend calls us for assistance. Three years ago, I met with a friend of mine who is a producer and video editor. I mentioned to him the advantages of becoming certified as a Minority Owned Business. I told him what I would tell any other business owner, regarding the benefits and advantages for Minority Owned Business and doing business with Federal, State and Local Agencies.

Although I frequently see this friend, he did not proceed with the certification immediately. Fast forward three years to 2015 and I receive a call from him letting me know of an opportunity coming up with Metro in September of this year. Of course I was excited for him and told him I would help. With 3 weeks from the due date of the proposal, I sincerely wanted to help my friend grow his business. I believe he already new the “I told you so” story, so I did not mention in it to him. My first advice to him was to focus on application and the gathering of the supporting documents so that we may submit the application as an expedited application to become approved as an SBE with Metro. Over the course of two weeks, we met multiple times to ensure the accuracy of the application. He still needed to complete the RFP and submit it by the due date, but since the RFP had a SBE Set aside, the application needed to get done first.

After submitting the completed Metro Application, my friend was approved within two weeks and the RFP was submitted on time. If he does indeed get this contract, it will significantly help his business grow over the next few years. In addition, it will give him notoriety working with Metro and also help him get future projects.

The reason I am writing this article is if my friend were to take my advice originally, he would not have to go through the stress of getting approved and complete the RFP within a two week time period. This put a significant strain on him because he needed the certification to bid on the project, we put in extra hours to get in submitted on time.

The typical time it takes Metro to approve a Business for DBE Certification or SBE Certification is roughly three months. However, Metro has an expedited application process, if the applicant needs to get certified for a specific bid coming up. This will significantly reduce the wait time for applicants, assuming all required documents are submitted in a timely manner, as was the case with my friend.

My recommendation to all businesses would be to identify your opportunities ahead of time and not be in a position of rushing. This is true for all certifications. Doing your research and forecasting which ones you will need will significantly help, once you come across a situation like the one above.

 

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

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

DBE Certification in Two Weeks

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Most times when clients ask about about Certifications, the same questions always come up.”How long does it take to get certified?” Normally it would take roughly 3 months for Metro to approve a Business under each certification. This may seem long, but actually is a short time frame compared to other certifications, such as the SBA 8(a) program.

There is however a mostly unknown process that will significantly reduce the approval time line from 3 months to two weeks. Metro, has an option in one of their documents which allows you to expedite the process, if there is a solicitation that has already been publicized. This option may only be marked if there is an actual solicitation which has a DBE or SBE set aside.

In the previous article, I wrote about a friend who was in this exact predicament. He knew of an opportunity coming up with Metro and needed get certified as an SBE in order to become eligible, since the RFP did have an SBE set-aside. We were able to work relentlessly on the application, asked Metro to expedite the application and was approved within two weeks right when the RFP was announced.

In order to become certified via the expedited process, the METRO application needs to be completed, along with all of the necessary supporting documents. Metro will not approve any application until all required documents have been received and verified. The trick in getting the application approved within two weeks, is entirely reliant on the applicant and how soon they can respond to Metro on additional documents if needed.

There is no special formula. All applications are the same and require the same supporting documents. However, the expedited process will allow you to get certified sooner and allow you to bid on opportunities immediately.

 

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

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

 

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

Applying for 8(a) Social Disadvantage Waiver

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In the article published on March 26, 2014, I wrote about the Social Disadvantage Requirements by the SBA to become an 8(a) participant. But what if you are not a member of one of the presumed socially Disadvantaged groups? Can you still apply? The simple answer is YES, but there are a few extra steps which need to be explained to the SBA.

The SBA presumes that African Americans, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans are socially disadvantaged. However, other individuals may similarly be found socially disadvantaged and eligible for the program on a case-by-case basis.

An individual who is not a member of one of the presumed groups can be admitted into the 8(a) Business Development program.  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.

The individual must provide evidence to SBA proving one’s individual social disadvantage.

Evidence of individual social disadvantage must include:

  • At least one 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 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).

* A detailed description of each of the bullet points must be given along with proof of examples and documents such as letters from reputable sources. To prove social disadvantage, the individual(s) owners must ultimately show that such personal experiences had a negative impact on entry into or advancement in the business world.

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

Small Business Enterprise Certification Initiative

 

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On June 2nd, 2014, Metro officially announces their Small Business Set-Aside Program to level the playing field for Small Business Enterprise (SBE) by setting aside contracts that only SBE Certified firms can compete for as prime contractors, suppliers and consultants.

Depending on the type of procurement, contracts will range from $3,000 to $5 million. As long as there are 3 or more SBE certified firms available for a single contract, the set aside will be set for them.

According to Metro, “the set-aside program was developed in response to a recent mandate by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) to improve competition by SBEs on FTA funded procurement.”

The Small Business Set-Aside program offers the following BENEFITS:

  • Enables SBEs to compete as prime contractors, increasing the opportunity to win contracts.
  • Levels the playing field by limiting competition.
  • Notifies of SBEs of eligible contract opportunities.
  • Builds firm capacity, allowing SBEs to take on larger contracts.
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

8(a) Economically Disadvantaged Explained

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The SBA 8(a) Certification, like other Certifications have rules an guidelines which each business must qualify for prior to applying. Below is the clarification on the Economically Disadvantaged Rule.

 Economically Disadvantaged:

A. Personal Income- The SBA requires that the Individual claiming Disadvantage must have a Personal Income less than $250,000 on average for the past 3 years. If the 3 year average is greater than $250k you are no eligible. Once admitted in to the program, this threshold increases to $350,000.

B. Personal Net Worth- The individual claiming disadvantage must not have a Personal Net Worth greater than $250,000. This does not include, the equity you possess in your personal residence, any retirement accounts you have or the equity in your business. The reason for this being, all of these assets are assumed to be used for your business at one time or another. However, if you do own Investment properties or other business, the equity in each will be calculated toward your personal net worth.

 

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 SBA’s Narrative Statement of Social Disadvantage.

 

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The SBA requires all applicant to complete a Narrative of Social disadvantage. In this article, I will be discussing the following.

1. What is the Narrative Statement of Social Disadvantage?

2. Why does the SBA require it?

3. How should you write it?

1. What is the Narrative Statement of Social Disadvantage?

The Narrative Statement of Social Disadvantage is a story an applicant writes about themselves on instances in their life where they have experienced some type of set back due to their racial background. To prove social disadvantage, the individual(s) owners must ultimately show that such personal experiences had a negative impact on entry into or advancement in the business world.

2. Why does doe SBA require it?

The SBA states that certain minority groups are designated as socially disadvantaged. That is, these groups throughout the course of history, are believed to have experienced racism. Of course, not everyone experiences this, and those who have, unfortunate as that may be, need to explain how and why to be eligible for the 8(a) program. The 8(a) program, as sated in our last articles, helps level the paying field for minorities, giving them greater opportunities to complete in a more fair playing field.

3. How Should You Write It?

The answer here is simple. Truthfully. Successful narratives are written starting with their childhood experiences, leading up to college and finally in the work force. I met with a Mexican American client today, and he didn’t quite understand how he was socially disadvantaged. Initially he could not think of any stories, but after asking him a few simple questions on his high school years and his career, he began to think of specific moments in his life that he at first did not realize what were inevitably socially inappropriate remarks by his peers. For example, accusations of fraud based on his skin color was one. A second was a teacher thinking he was cheating because he earned a high score on an exam. He was asked to retake the test in a separate room and scored an A. The teacher never questioned him again. Traumatic. I know.

Unfortunately, it’s stories like these that have kept minorities from excelling in this great country and these stories need to be told. Hence, the SBA wants to make certain that individuals applying for the 8(a) Certification have been one time or another Socially Disadvantaged.

 

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