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WIPP is a national nonpartisan public policy organization advocating on behalf of its coalition of 4.7 million business women including 75 business organizations. WIPP identifies important trends and opportunities and provides a collaborative model for the public and private sectors to increase the economic power of women-owned businesses.

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If you are a woman entrepreneur trying to raise venture capital, this article, written by Vivian Giang, will certainly guide through the majors difficulties. It will let you succeed in the "Jungle" of raising venture capital funds, or at least it is going to give very useful advices. This article (Hyperlink) shares the stories of six women entrepreneurs who have successfully acquired funding in this complicated system.

Sure statistics prove that the method of financing still has some challenges, especially when you think that male entrepreneurs are 40% more likely to get VC funding than female founders, but change is on the horizon, and these entrepreneurs are certainly an example of tenacity and sharpness.

Get to know Nicole Sanchez, founder of luxury hair distribution company, VIXXENN ; Jessica Richman, cofounder and CEO of uBiome, a platform for microbiome sequencing; Mada Seghete, cofounder of developer tool, Branch Metrics; Mona Bijoor, founder and CEO of JOOR, a private online fashion marketplace for wholesale buying; Fern Mandelbaum, entrepreneur, managing partner at Vista Venture Partners and lecturer at Stanford Business School; and Umaimah Mendhro, cofounder and CEO of VIDA, an e-commerce platform that aims to connect designers, artists, producers, and consumers.

Read the article here.


3 Undeniable Business Trends You Need to Embrace

Adaptability is the key ingredient of success for those looking to accomplish great things in today's business climate.   This is one of the key business trends highlighted by Huffington Post's blogger, Doug G. Sandler in his ARTICLE : 3 Undeniable Business Trends You Need To Embrace. We live in a business world that is moving faster than it ever has and adaptability seems to be the only acceptable policy for an entrepreneur, even though for many it will mean changing the status quo of how you operate, and for others - the newbie business owners - time and resources will need to be spent creating and improving their networks and key resources. Either case, you should embrace these three trends to make your own way towards success.


  1. The Internet is here to stay! The most successful businesses of tomorrow will be able to master technology but still provide a human touch as well. 

  2. Content is king.  Blogging, writing and sharing content with existing customers and potential customers is vital. Be an expert in your industry, stay connected to your market and provide content that is relevant, interesting and easy to read.

  3. Adapt or perish. You cannot ignore business trends or your business will be left behind.


Read more here.






The dawn of the New Year provides an excellent opportunity to review the successes of 2014, and to assess areas of improvement for 2015. The National Women's Business Council's annual report, "Building Bridges: Leveraging Research and Relationships to Impact the Business Climate for Women" does exactly that, providing us with an overview of women entrepreneurship, including a summary of key research findings, policy recommendations and the Council's agenda in the year ahead. The report rests on NWBC's four pillar platform- access to capital, access to markets, job creation and growth, and data collection- and confirms what many of us already know, that the full economic participation of women is essential to economic growth in the U.S. 


Access to capital remains a key issue for women business owners. In order to better understand the ways in which women business owners accessed capital, NWBC worked with the SBA to analyze loan data, partnered with Walker's Legacy to host a round-table specific to women of color and access to capital, and commissioned new research on under-capitalizationThe research shows a direct link between access to capital and revenue generation, with men starting their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women, a disparity which increases among firms with high growth potential. The report highlights crowdfunding as an important new resource for women business owners seeking capital.

The NWBC also focused much research on access to markets for women business owners, using WIPP's own ChallengeHER campaign as a building block for identifying best practices in government procurement. Thanks to the Women Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, more and more federal contracts are being awarded to women owned small businesses. However, disparities still remain in regard to award amount between WOSBs and non-WOSBs, most likely as a result of different contract types. 

In 2013, the Council called for an increase in the number of women owned or led firms in incubators and accelerators in an attempt to increase job creation and growth. In 2014, the Council honored this commitment, through championing the SBA's Office of Investment and Innovation's Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, convening a public meeting on STEM, entrepreneurship, and women, and commissioning new research on micro-businesses and accelerators and incubators. Research shows that women with dependent children are less likely to add additional employees, indicating that child care burdens are still a significant obstacle to the growth of women owned small businesses. 

The report concludes with a number of different, concrete strategies for each pillar, building off of past success while also acknowledging areas for improvement. Among many other things, the NWBC recommends: tax credits for investors who finance women-owned and led firms; creating opportunities to align women business owners with government and corporate procurement officials; improvement of the availability and timeliness of government and private sector data on women owned small businesses; the implementation of the sole source authority for the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program (yay!). 

The National Women's Business Council is a crucial resource for women entrepreneurs and business owners. The research and recommendations they provide acts as a road map for the success of women entrepreneurs, success which is reached through hard work, partnerships and persistence. 2014 was a great year for women entrepreneurs, and 2015 looks just as promising. 

Cindy Brook, Contracts Manager and Facility Security Officer, Binary Group


One of my co-workers attended a recent industry day for an IDIQ multiple award contract.  The RFP stated that some task orders may require special classification levels such as SCI, CNWDI, NATO, etc.  During the industry day, someone in the audience asked if a facility would have to be cleared to these special classification levels to qualify for the contract.  Even the agency contacts did not know how to answer the question.  

As the FSO for a government contractor, I see this question come up often, and many contractors continue to be confused between personnel security classifications and facility clearance levels.

Obtaining a Facility Clearance is very different than Personnel Clearance.  The level of clearance required is based on the contract requirements.  Every contract will have a DD254 form that provides specific security classification guidance as to what is required for that contract.  As with Personnel Clearances, there are different levels of facility clearances:

  • Confidential
  • Secret
  • Top Secret

Facilities may also be given the ability to hold classified materials, which is called "Safeguarding".  This will also be noted on the DD254, if it is required.  If your company does not currently hold a Facility Clearance, you can obtain one by being sponsored by the agency or a Prime Contractor.  Once you obtain a Facility Clearance, you can maintain it by either winning new classified contracts each year or achieve continued performance for your existing contracts (if dormant for more than 12 months you may lose it).

Special security classification levels are for personnel, not facilities, which include SCI, CNWDI, NATO, etc.  The required level for personnel will be indicated on the RFP or contract.  The paperwork is different for each level; however, each will require the individual personnel to read, review, and sign additional security agreements that are pertinent and applicable to the special classification level.  As with all classified information and special classification levels, when the personnel no longer requires access, it is the FSO's responsibility to remove the personnel's access and debrief them. 

For additional training on Facility Clearance, sign up for Cindy Brook's webinar!

Give Me 5: The Fast Track to a Facility Clearance

Course Instructor: Cindy Brook, Binary Group

Wednesday, January 21, 2015  *  2:00 eastern / 1:00 central / 11:00 pacific

There are several ways a Government contractor can be granted a facility clearance.  This webinar will discuss the key steps, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid in order to navigate the Government bureaucracy in order to secure a facility clearance quickly and cost-effectively. Register Here


 

Entrepreneurs, Policy Makers Discuss What's Working and Share Advice

The Atlantic's 2014 Small Business Forum

By Martin Feeney

 

From within the ultra modern, concrete-exposed confines of Washington's 1776, a startup incubator, The Atlantic Magazine hosted its annual Small Business Forum.  Representative Judy Chu (D-CA) kicked off the morning's session with a bang. The recently passed defense authorization bill included sole source authority for the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Procurement Program.  This is a major victory for all women business owners and is something we've been advocating for many years. According to Rep. Chu, other changes for small businesses included in the defense bill are limitations on reverse auctions, changes to subcontracting, and review of contract bundling.

 

When the new Congress convenes in January, Rep. Chu shared her plans to introduce a bill to restart the refinance section under the SBA's 504 commercial real-estate loan program.  It allowed small businesses to cut costs by refinance existing commercial property loans at today's low interest rates, but it expired in 2012.  We look forward to working with her next year to make this a reality.

 

Many of the morning's panelists, including SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, the National Journal's Fawn Johnson, 1776 Co-Founder Evan Burfield, and the founders of two of DC's favorite establishments, Ben's Chili Bowl's Nazim Ali and Port City Brewing Company's Bill Butcher, all agreed that access to capital remains the major obstacle for startups.  Port City's Bill Butcher recalled his attempts to get a loan to start Washington's first brewery since prohibition.  Despite success in the winemaking industry and having his personal finances in order, he heard the all-too-familiar refrain from the first ten banks he tried: "sorry, we only lend to businesses that are at least 24 months old."  His advice: "keep trying," he said, "and learn from your failures and mistakes."  Luckily for beer lovers, Port City was able to obtain an SBA loan with some business counseling. 

 

With respect to what the government is doing, the SBA's Maria Contreras-Sweet highlighted initiatives specifically designed for small businesses.  On lending, she noted that the SBA waived fees on 7(a) loans below $150,000 last year and has committed to continuing through September 2015.  According to her, this has resulted in increased loans to the smallest businesses, including those run by women and minorities.  To boost the number of microloans (loans up to $50,000), the SBA plans to enter into an agreement with credit unions, which will increase the program's reach into more communities across the country. 

 

On technology and how the SBA is innovating, Administrator Contreras-Sweet also announced SBA One. The online platform will automate the application and approval process for almost all SBA loans.  She likened the idea to what TurboTax did for filing taxes by making the entire process online and automated.  No more paperwork or headaches?  Sounds like a great idea me.  SBA One is expected to launch in the second quarter of 2015. 

 

From the private sector's perspective, Bank of America's chief small business lender, Robb Hilson, shared a couple of statistics about generational approaches to entrepreneurship.  Not surprisingly, millennials are the most confident when it comes to taking the leap and starting a business.  But they're also the most dependent on technology, with 44% saying they wouldn't be able to survive without a smartphone.  Surprisingly, on the other end of the spectrum, encore entrepreneurs (those aged 50+), often considered the luddites of the entrepreneurial world, is in fact the age group most likely to do so following the millennial generation.

 

At the end of each panel, each participant was asked for the one piece of advice each would give an aspiring entrepreneur.  I think Ben's Mr. Ali framed it perfectly: "know your community, know your neighbors, and know what they want."  He credited this advice, passed down from his father who founded Ben's Chili Bowl almost 60 years ago, with the famed restaurant's continued success.  They've been able to succeed in their community because they're a part of it and know their needs and desires. 

 

So here's my piece of advice: If you're ever in Washington and haven't already, make sure to support these local entrepreneurs...legends by grabbing a Ben's Half-Smoke and a pint of Port City's IPA. You won't regret it.

 

All told, the forum offered a wide range of perspectives, including experiences, lessons learned, opportunities, and thoughts on the state of small business in general.  I encourage you to watch the webcast if you haven't had the chance to do so yet.   

 

 

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