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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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(818)551-9400

 

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

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

Paul Mazbanian

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We receive a lot of calls weekly with clients asking us questions about the process we use and the experience we possess, so they may make the best calculated decision in hiring the best consultant possible.

What to look for when hiring a consultant.

1. Experience

2. Location

3. Price

EXPERIENCE:

The certification process is highly complex. A consultant must have the experience to understand each clients unique scenario. When speaking to a consultant, you should address these very important questions:

a. What process do you use to get us certified?

b. What kind of experience do you have in getting Businesses approved?

c.Where did you learn how to do certifications?

d.How successful have you been doing this?

LOCATION:

We recommend the consultant you hire be local to your business. This is crucial in optimizing efficiency in completing the certification. We do not recommend hiring a firm that is outside of driving distance from you. Some certifications will take between 20-40 hours to complete and the one on one time you get from a consultant is very important. A firm who is not able to meet with you one on one, will not be effective in completing the application for you. We have always made it a point to work with local companies, so that we can give them the best service and be most productive as possible. This is why we are so successful.

PRICE:

Price does not determine the experience one possesses to effectively complete any certification. It really comes down to what the Return on Investment will be for you as a business owner. We recommend hiring a consultant that has the most experience and has the pedigree to complete the certification in a timely and effective manner. It is worth paying a little extra for someone who has the experience to finish the project in a timely manner.

OUR EXPERIENCE:

As CEO and President of Small Business Community Consultants, Inc. I have always made it a point to be involved with every client from beginning to end. Due to the hands on approach I have instilled within the company, we have not had one single complaint about the services we provide. This is largely due to the the experience I have attained directly from the Small Business Administration and the one on one time every client gets.

We only work with companies who are local to us. There is no compromise when it comes to the customer service we strive to perfect for our clients. To learn more about our company please visit our website at www.sbclending.com/. To learn more about our certification services, please visit the certifications tab on the site.

Paul Mazbanian

Paul Mazbanian

Tel: (818) 551-9400

E-mail: paul@sbclending.com/

www.sbclending.com/


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Over the past 11 years, we have been assisting Small Businesses get Certified with either the Federal or State Government. Typical questions always comes up.

1. Why do I need to Be Certified?

2 . How will it help me?

3. How much Does it cost?

4. What We Recommend.

These are all very important questions of course, which all business owners deserve to know. In this article, we will try to answer these questions and hope that it will give you the ability to determine if indeed it ‘s worth it r not.

It is first important to understand that there are many different certifications available. There are Federal, State, County and City Certifications with different variations for different departments such as metro, airport commission etc. We will be speaking in general terms. Knowing which one would benefit you most is critical. This article will focus on the general topic of certifications.

1. WHY DO I NEED TO BE CERTIFIED?

For the more complex  Certifications such as the SBA (8a certification) or the States Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification, you will need to make a determination if you can bid and win contracts to increase revenues. These certifications are harder to get due to their complexity and more expensive if you desire to hire a professional consultant to guide you through the process. It is an investment, which if utilized correctly can prove to be very rewarding.

For the less complex Certifications, such as the Women Owned Small Business Contracting program (WOSB) there are two reasons to get the certifications.

1. contracting- To bid on Government jobs.

2.Marketing- Use it to market yourself as a Federally Certified Company.

2. HOW WILL IT HELP ME?

Small Businesses like us are always looking to find new revenue streams to increase sales. We sometimes add new services, give discounts etc. to entice people to buy or choose us and not our competitors. The Government has created programs to help Small Businesses compete in a more fair environment. They realize that the backbone of this economy are Small Business and if we don’t survive, its 2008 all over gain.

In order to keep things fair, the Government requires that all Federal, State and Local agencies give a percentage of their contracts to certified companies, disallowing large corporations to take part. For example, let’s say for argument sake that there are 1000 construction companies in the United States. 500 are 8a certified and 500 are not. Only the 500 that are 8a certified are able to bid on that particular contract reducing the competition to 50%.

3. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

This is a difficult question to answer. There are plenty of consultants out there who make money assisting businesses get certified for the different certifications. Depending on the complexity of the Certification price ranges will vary. For example, the SBA 8a Certification will be significantly more expensive then say the Women Owned Small Business Certification. There is certainly more work to be done and a lot more hours put in to the 8a compared to the WOSB.

4. WHAT WE RECOMMEND:

A. Work with a local firm: These Certifications require a lot of one on one time and proprietary information being shared, such as tax returns. A local firm can meet with you in person making the process easier.

B. Experience: The experience a firm hold is crucial in getting approved. It is always a benefit if the consultant has a certifications background but also educated in finance, accounting and law.

C. Return on Investment: What is the potential of increasing sales through contracts? If you are paying $1000 for a certification and the contract is for $10,000 is it worth it?

SBC Consultants, Inc is Government trained. We pride ourselves in working with only local firms giving us the ability to give the best customer service as possible. To learn more about our certifications please visit the certifications page on our website HERE.

Paul Mazbanian

Paul Mazbanian

CEO

Small Business Community Consultants, Inc.

Email: paul@sbclending.com/

Tel: (818) 551-9400

The SBA 8A Certification

WHY OBTAIN THE 8A CERTIFICATION???

In our last article, I spoke about the 2 main reasons why a Women Owned Business should become Federally certified as a WOSB. The 8a certification, although has similar reasoning, there is one particular trait about it which makes it very special.
MONEY…. 23% of all Government contracts are required to be awarded to 8a certified firms. That is, all federal agencies, departments of agencies etc. are required by the Federal Government to give almost a quarter of their contracts to only 8a certified firms. This not only reduces the competition significantly it levels the playing field so that Small Business may complete more fairly.
Why Should Businesses Apply?
During the first term of the Obama administration, $376.2 billion in contracting dollars went to Small Businesses.  This is a $48.1 billion increase over the four preceding years even as we have reduced contracting spending overall. This tells us that the Government wants to help Small Businesses by giving them new opportunities to grow.
The Process:
The 8a process for those who have attempted it, know that it is quite lengthy. The average time it takes to complete the certification will vary between 20-40 hours depending on the business structure, its owners etc. Some of our clients who have attempted to complete it themselves have decide to hire us instead to avoid the headache of trying to understand the complexity of the program.
What We Do For You:
We ONLY consult with Los Angeles based companies. That keeps us local and will allow us to give the best service to our clients. They know we are just a few miles away and can call or meet with us as often as they would like.
*If you would like to learn more about the 8a certification, please visit the 8a LINK HERE: http://www.sbclending.com//services-8a-certifications.php.
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Paul Mazbanian

CEO

535 N. Brand Blvd. Suite 245

Glendale, CA 91203

Tel: 818-551-9400

Fax: 877-636-3792

What to Expect in 2013:

As 2012 passes us by and 2013 becomes reality, Business Owners are wondering what changes will take effect be in 2013 compared to 2012. Our answer is simple, a lot of the same old same old.

 Business Loans:

  • Lenders are always introducing new programs to entice Business Owners to apply, but the lending guidelines will not change. That is, as our April 18, 2012 article (http://sbclending.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/hello-world/) states, the 5 C’s of credit will very much be in effect. Lenders will continue to be strict in order to minimize their risk.

Business Certifications:

  • While lending guidelines continue to remain tight, Business Owners SHOULD always be thinking of ways to grow their customer base. Certified Companies will always have more opportunities then non-certified companies. That is, the Government has reserved new opportunities only to those businesses that are certified. Intern, those who are not certified will not be able to bid on that job. Here is a link to our Certifications page, we hope you will find it helpful. 

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Government Contracting Basics

Are you currently bidding on contracts or maybe you would like to get into the game of bidding on contracts? Below are several reasons for any business to have a certification.

Businesses who DO bid on contracts

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 otherwise. Both the State and Federal Government set aside funds for certified companies. State and Federal agencies are required to designate a percentage of their contracts to certified agencies. Being certified not only increases your chances of getting new contracts, but it allows you to do it with less competition thus 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, therefore 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? If you were one of the 100 certified, you would only be competing against 99 competitors rather then 1000, thus significantly increasing your chances to compete in a fairer playing field.

 

Business who DO NOT 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 consistently tells me that he is not the cheapest price in town. The reason for his success has been due to the legitimacy he has been able to establish amongst his peers. People are willing to pay a little extra for his knowledge knowing that they will get unmatched service.

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 and is Federally Certified.

Being designated as a certified business with the State or Federal Government gives you more legitimacy!

 

As Small Business owners we all need help to get ahead and becoming certified with the State or Federal Government will allow you to significantly increase future revenues. Visit our Certification link HERE.

 


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

Loans for New and Existing Businesses

The subject of our first article was about the 5 C’s of Credit (Character, Capital, Capacity, Collateral, and Conditions). In addition to credit, lenders are looking for businesses that are financially stable, which I will discuss below.

Existing Businesses

Lenders prefer to do business with existing companies due to their multiple years in business. Lenders prefer this route because they can track the progress an existing business has made over the years, which is done in multiple ways:

  1. Collecting previous years tax returns
  • Tax returns are the only official document which allows the lender to see how much a company has made in the past. Cash flow is a term used by lenders to determine pay back ability. Gross receipts will show the sales of a company, but the net income will show the companies profit after expenses.
  • In some cases, companies are making more then is being reported to the IRS. A few weeks ago, a client who owns a coin laundry business contacted me for a loan. Client claimed to make over $1,000,000 in sales. His tax returns however showed revenues of $20,000 and a net loss of ($10,000). When I asked the client what happened to the $1,000,000 in sales, he replied “we are a cash business and don’t report the income.” As you can imagine, this was a problem. Since he is receiving cash, he is not reporting the income to the IRS and therefore it is not being reflected on their business tax returns. Since the tax returns are the only reputable report to verify income, the lender can not take his word on his total sales.

        2.  Financial Statements

  • The profit and loss statement: During any given year when the company has not yet filed for their taxes, the profit and loss statement will allow us to see the year to date revenues and expenses of the company. This will give us a good idea how the company pairs up compared to previous years. I would ask this document to be prepared by a CPA  for authenticity.
  • The balance sheet: It will give us a good idea where the company stands with their assets and liabilities thus giving us the eventual net worth of the company. This document is important to see how the company manages its debt. It will show all assets compared to its liabilities giving us either a negative or positive. A negative net worth tells us that the company has more debts then assets which means they owe more then they own. A Positive net worth tells us the company owns more then it owes. This should also be verified by a CPA.

The above mentioned items will allow us to get a grasp of a companies pay back ability. There are however, other documents needed while processing a loan. They include but are not limited to:

  1. Business debt schedule
  2. Personal financial statement
  3. Personal Tax returns

New Businesses

Since new businesses can’t provide tax returns from previous years, it is crucial to have excellent credit and a sound business plan when applying for a loan. All new business owners must realize that having great credit is crucial when requesting for financing. The following two items are just two of the most important items needed for New Businesses. However, when getting a loan package together there will be additional items requested.

Needed Items

   1.  Credit

  • As our previous article states, credit will determine how risky you are to a lender. Hence, having a low credit score will give a lender the impression that you are not trustworthy. Therefore, understanding your credit report, how much you owe on credit cards relative to the limits on those cards are important. Lenders will take in to consideration how much debt an individual already has. The lower debt you have the less of a risk you are to lenders.
  • Also, having a high credit score does not necessarily mean that you will get approved. The days of approving based on your score are over. Lenders now are more interested on what makes up your credit score and will want to make certain that your credit report is clean.
  • Example: I received a call from a client who had just moved to the states a few years ago. He does not have any credit cards but does have a vehicle he is leasing. He has never been late on his payment. His credit score is a 720, a respectable score by today’s standards. The client wanted to start a business with some money he had been saving and inquired about a Small Business Loan. When I asked for his credit report, I saw that it wasn’t much of a report. The only reported credit he had was the lease on his vehicle. I advised the client not to apply for a loan, but rather begin building his credit by obtaining small credit cards. By using and paying them off every month, he would have established credit slowly. He did however decide to apply for the loan and not take my advice. He was declined!
  • Why did this happen? The main reason for the decline was due to lack of credit history. The client did not have enough credit at the time for an approval. Lenders are looking for business owners to have a good amount of years behind them borrowing and paying off debt.

2.   Business Plan

  • A business plan is crucial for start up companies because it is the only way to show a lender how they will be repaid. Thus, creating a sound business plan will be crucial in obtaining any type of financing. A business plan should explain everything about the business and its owners. A business plan can be the determining factor of an approval or a decline.
  • Creating a Business Plan takes effort and time. Our last article outlined the Table of Contents we feel is crucial in creating a great business plan.
  • Please visit our business plan link on our website http://sbclending.com//services-business-plans.php

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

Business Planning

As a business consultant, the first skill that I learned when I first began working in the industry is how to develop a business plan. I learned that if done right, the business plan will be the most effective tool in achieving business goals and it will act as a road map for your business.

The following highlights important information a proper business plan should cover:

1. Executive Summary

  • A summary of the following longer report.

2. Use Of Funds

  • If requesting for financing or an investment, this section will lay out in detail how much is being requested and what it will be used for.

3. Investor Proposition

  • If requesting an investment you will need to write the proposition you are proposing, which will include the rate of return.

4. Company Ownership

5. Company Location

6. Exit Strategy

7. The New Concept

  • In this section, you will need to describe what the industry is currently doing and how your concept will be changing the industry.

 8. Departments and Services

  • In this section, you will need to explain the different departments and services in detail (what are you selling the customer?).

9. Market Analysis Summary

  • Researching the market. Your goal is to enter the market and share the piece of the pie with your competitors. Knowing how big the industry is and the per capita spending is very important You will also need to identify your demographics in this section as well.

10. Market Segmentation

  • This section will need to explain the segments of the market in which you anticipate will buy your product and/or service.

11. Market Needs

  • What is the market lacking that you are going to provide?

12. Industry Analysis

  • How large is your market? What has happened to the industry in the past couple of months? What do you think the industry will do in the future and why? What has the trend been for the industry?

13. Competitive Comparison

  • Identify your competitors. Who they are and what do they do? Conduct a SWOT analysis

14. Strategy and Implementation Summary

  • In this section, you will be identifying your goals. Label as short term and long term goals. Usually shot term goals will range from the day you start until the end of the first year. Long term goals will be any goal you have after the first year. Additionally, you will also have immediate goals. What you must accomplish before you open your doors are your immediate goals. All of the aforementioned goals are crucial to identify pre-startup.

15. Marketing Strategy

  • Identify the different marketing strategies you will implement. This includes but is not limited to social media, print advertising, and online advertising. Be clear and specific (how much will each cost?).

16. Management Summary and Gaps

  • Identify the key players in your business. Who will be running the day to day operations of the company? If you plan on hiring new employees in the future, identify the key positions needed and when you anticipate on hiring them.

17. Financial Projections

  • Financial projections should be used as a goal. Identify how much money you would like to make per year or per quarter. Once completed, you will have a good idea of how much you need to sell of one product.