A Little Story About Starting Up

A family friend – who is a service-disabled veteran – recently called to discuss his idea for a potential business. Louisa and I get these kinds of calls all the time, and are happy to hear people out and offer a little advice.

What happened on this call is what happens 99.9% of the time. We told him, “Yes, you have a good idea. Now you have to do the work.” For example, his business needs a corporate structure. There are plenty of ways to put that in place. We sent him to an online resource that does this for a nominal fee. He also needs to get registered in what used to be CCR and is now SAM.

(The SAM website (System for Award Management) has consolidated the registration tools at CCR/FedReg, ORCA, and EPLS. To find out how to register your business in SAM, check out the podcast and presentation put together by my friends at WIPP (Women in Public Policy).)

His idea involved a particular government agency, and he already had preliminary conversations with the PTAC, as well as the agency’s small business office and diversity officer. That’s great, but now he needs to go back to all those parties to touch base, find out what and who they know, and see if they can help him meet the right people.

Next, he’s already got his personal service disability status taken care of, but he doesn’t yet have the certification that his business is majority-owned and operated by a service-disabled veteran. In order to keep fraud from occurring (as it did in the early days when businesses were self-certified), the government regulates these things with a detailed certification process.

Of course all of these things take time. And meanwhile, time’s a-wasting on his good idea. So we suggested that while he’s pursuing his good idea, he should get these other pieces in place. One action we suggested right away was that he register for the agency’s schedules so that they can order his idea more easily.

The point is, it’s not enough to have a good idea. You’ve got to have the discipline and the  entrepreneurial “stick-to-it-ness” that will make that government agency say, “Yes, you have a good idea,” AND, “I’ll order it!”

Hopefully as this fellow goes along I’ll be able to report back to you on what he’s doing and we can take instruction from his experience.


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