SBA Proposed Changes to the 8(a) Business Development Program

The Small Business Administration has announced proposals for the improvement of the 8(a) Business Development Program for disadvantaged small businesses. The first comprehensive review of the 8(a) program in several years resulted with the proposed 8 (a) regulation changes that were published in the Federal Register. The public comment period on the proposed changes is open for 60 days.

SBA Administrator Karen Mills said about the proposed changes that they will “strengthen the program and and maximize its benefits for eligible small businesses”. “The 8(a) program has a proven record as an effective program for helping disadvantaged small businesses gain access to training and contracting opportunities to help them grow, create jobs and ultimately succeed in the marketplace once they graduate from the program”, said Mills.

The 8(a) program is designed to help businesses that meet the SBA’s criteria for being socially and economically disadvantaged. In effort to help small businesses grow and motivate people to starting a small business, this program provides them with access to government contracting opportunities, specialized business training and counseling, and help with their small business marketing and high-level executive development. In fiscal 2008, small businesses received over $16 billion in 8(a) contracts.

Some of the proposed changes of the 8(a) program include:

* Economic Disadvantage: Adjustments to how assets, gross income and retirement savings are considered when determining whether the company is economically disadvantaged.
* Ownership and Control Requirements: The proposed changes would provide flexibility in admitting immediate family members of current and former 8(a) participants into the program.
* Joint Ventures: The proposal would require 8(a) firms to perform significant portion of the work on joint ventures, ensuring that they are able to build capacity.
* Business size for Primary Industry: Requiring that the firm stays small for its primary industry while participating in the 8(a) program.

Details of the proposed rule can be viewed in the Federal Register.

Residual Income Business Opportunity – Product Development

Launching your product with positive impact and giving your residual income business the best chance of successfully making money online relies upon you having spent enough time researching your target market properly.

It is a mistake that internet marketers and any other online residual income business owners make, to fling themselves headlong into creating a website, taking the time and trouble to set up squeeze pages (lead capture pages) and sales pages without first establishing that the products they intend to sell have enough demand on the internet.

There are two common mistakes made.

First of all, not finding out if the size of the market online is big enough to sustain your sales targets. And by that I mean checking out keyword research tools to find out exactly how many active daily searches are being made for the products in question.

And second of all, (which is a bigger problem) advertising products on the internet that are in demand but the competition is so great that it is virtually impossible for the new start business to get their wares in front of their potential customers.

That is why the savvy online marketer really gets to grips with niche marketing. Understanding that a product can satisfy lots of niche markets and as a consequence each niche market should be tackled differently to the rest.

Let me give you an example of how this may work.

Let’s say you were trying to sell rechargeable batteries. If you simply advertised your rechargeable batteries on the net you would be competing with a massive number of sellers out there, in fact probably too many to make a real impact.

However, if you were to niche your products into tailoring them for specific markets for example Samsung digital cameras, Kodak hand held video recorders, Petzl head torches, Gillette nose hair trimmers, you get the idea!

If you chose say 50 niche markets you would be reducing your competition massively, satisfying a much more targeted need and therefore be much more relevant to your target audience as well as finding it much easier to get your offer in front of them.

Therefore, niche marketing is fundamentally important if you want to be successful marketing and selling your products online.The question is how do you achieve that in the best way that will keep you ahead of your competition?

Home Based Business – 4 Proactive Measures For Business Development

Home based business owners must develop leadership skills to achieve the desired outcome. Methodical business methods must be replaced with the innovative solutions to bring about output oriented changes.

Effective Solutions for Problems:

Creativity can be used with sales techniques and discount offers for products to enrich the customer interest. Non essential spending must be cut down to have a positive effect on the bottom line.

Quality measures can help determine the appropriateness of a product with respect to client requirements. Primary business operations can be sustained for growth with a critical blend of management and leadership capabilities.

Directed Strategies for Growth:

The following measures can be put to practice to move towards more business development:

·         There should be constant monitoring and measurement of the factors which promote growth to augment movement towards goals and objectives of a home based business.

·         Certain critical success factors of a business have to be identified and communicated with coworkers and partners. This can help bring about strong focus with utilization of resources and available workforce.

·         The identified critical factors for success can act as a mutual point of reference to perform and help achieve targets within the stipulated time frame.

·         The desired customer satisfaction rate, product range and market share values can be increased in tune with the quality of relationship shared with suppliers.

·         Strategic goals and objectives of a company must be examined in relation to the current status of the functional areas.

·         Essential elements of a business strategy are devised from internal business forces, competency plan and entrepreneurial environment conditions.

·         Characteristics adopted to maintain business sustainability against challenges, barriers and external influences must be analyzed in detail.

·         The form of production undertaken, quality of marketing campaigns and volume proposition rendered must be considered.

Management Rationale:

Financial accounting must be paid adequate attention to achieve balanced books. Home based business owners must be aware of critical numbers that indicate operative efficiency. Successful entrepreneurs adopt the management rule “first things first”. Immediate efforts should be dedicated to completion of tasks laid out at the present moment.

An ability to face pragmatic situations and act on them requires non idealistic preference. Necessary changes must be incorporated in the functional business model to bring about prosperity.

Essential Entrepreneurial Actions:

Guidance in functional areas outside expertise can be obtained form third party sources. Essential business operations must be carried out in difficult conditions to work at endurance.

Constant evaluation must be carried out with the status of component factors to move towards desired goals. Problems should be identified and a multi-dimensional approach for a solution must be devised.

Sales Management – Selling and Business Development in the 21st Century

The marketing components that used to generate leads — product, performance, promotion and price –are no longer effective. The tools for selling — lots of sales calls, lunches, golf and give-always — are expensive and inefficient. In the 21st century, selling and business development require the following:

* Prospecting Using the Internet
* Relationship Selling
* Network Selling and
* Investigative Selling.

Prospecting Using the Internet

Cold calling is dead. It’s not productive. It’s demoralizing. It’s expensive. Prospecting in the 21st century involves setting the stage for people and companies to find you so that you can solve their problems. Flaunting advertisements and brochures is also a waste. Everyone goes to the Internet these days to find solutions to their problems. Therefore, the successful sales person will have to know how to use the Internet to generate qualified leads. Corporations should have an Internet program, but territory and product-line sales people should have their own Internet marketing program as well. And it’s not about having a website, it’s much more. This is the passive side of prospecting. This means that sales and business development professionals must set up an aggressive Internet Marketing process for their territory or product so that the people they want to do business with will come to them.

Relationship Selling

The other 21st Century prospecting element is the active side of prospecting. This is where you use professional relationships to find out about problems or opportunities where you can assist. There are so many opportunities for a sales person or account manager to discover within their existing and old/lost accounts. Using professional relationships make this prospecting method effective and easy.

Sales and Business Development people with professional relationships are seen as a resource to protect or enhance buyers’ careers. These people will be open to give information and coach you for cross-sells into their business unit, associate divisions and/or other product lines. If you develop professional relationships, these people will give you qualified leads, buy more and more from you, and refer you to others.

Network Selling

However, one has to learn how to use these relationships to get networked to others. There are two focuses for successful selling in the 21 Century:

1. You must spread like a virus in your customers’ organizations. I use the phrase – move up and out.

2. You must get to the profit-center leaders, C-level executives, and senior staff of the business units you sell into and develop professional relationships with these people to effectively close sales, cross-sell and be seen as the preferred supplier. Hanging out with the subordinates will never secure your position with your customers.

The only way you’ll move up and out and connect with the leaders is by using your professional relationships to network you to others. People with whom you’ve developed credibility — your Golden Network as I call it — will help you if asked. But if they are not asked for a referral and introduction to others, they will rarely offer to connect you with the leaders and others you should be meeting. So you must ask for their help.

To make the networking process productive, what you ask for, how you ask for it, and where you look for help will make all the difference between getting to the right people and getting to useless people for your initiative. This process is Network Selling.

Investigative Selling

Once a sales or business development person connects with a person of value, using his or her network connection, the goal is to convert that individual into his or her Golden Network. In other words the sales or BD person will have to develop a professional relationship with this new contact.

People will consider another individual a professional relationship only if there is something in it for them. So a sales or BD person needs to investigate the critical drivers of their target contact in order to learn what this person values that s/he can deliver. Everyone is different and without knowing each individual’s triggers, a sales person will flounder or worst yet, become annoying. But if the sales person can make the connections between the desires and the deliverables, a relationship can be established, and then this new contact will continue networking you up and out until you are connected to the leaders and their staffs.

The process for determining one’s triggers is Investigative Selling. It requires knowing the questions to ask and how to ask them. Although this sounds simple, it requires finesse, skill and confidence. Investigative Selling also requires effective listening, and the ability to expose and entice. Both of these are advanced skills never taught in schools and rarely taught in product or sales training. So the successful sales or business development person will have to learn these Investigative Selling skills and be able to take them seamlessly to the street.

The sooner the sales or business development person masters these Internet Marketing, Relationships, Network and Investigative Selling Skills, the sooner sales will close and closing ratios rise.