In With the New?! Seek to Expand ‘Old’ Skills

The New Year will present new horizons – and new turf for small business contracting. The new turf will include twists and bends and much new learning, so stay abreast or become obsolete. GovCon seeks to provide our readers with news, tips and trends. Knowing that each year demands new skills and effort, don’t forget the ones you already have in your quiver. Don’t let them collect dust and become outdated. Old skills drive you opportunity, new skills lead to greater success in the marketplace.

Probably the most important element of your small business is presentation. Like a fine restaurant, presentation makes customers come back.

You don’t need to be told that dressing well is always a necessity, which is why I put it up front. Remember the extreme power of the first impression—NOTHING is as powerful in the business world. Dress comfortably on your own time, not your business time.

OK. So you’re seeking to take on another person. Of course they’ll need the skills you’re looking for, that’s a given. But what about those other things, the intangibles?

cheerleaderNot everyone has a cheerleader personality, in fact, that can be a negative. A potential hire needs to have the willingness to engage. If you’re managing a widget factory, this may not be an important quality for assembly line applicants, but when dealing with people who will represent you or your small business, expect what you expect of yourself.

Let your imagination run free and see your staff interacting with the new hire. Is it a good fit? Many companies have staff attend a later interview just to examine the dynamics. Ask older team members what they think. It will build support for you as a boss by encouraging their opinions while getting the most out of the entire team. Again, would a new hire be able to present themselves to the contracting officer or the prime contractor?

Not everyone can be a catalyst. But shoot for the moon. Everybody on your team – in an ideal world – is able to talk about your business and the team with enthusiasm. We all know this is never the case, but increased energy usually breeds enthusiasm. If employees see a willingness to accept new ideas or methods to improve the shop, they’ll be more inclined to make suggestions that improve your bottom line.

Elevator pitches are a fact of corporate life everywhere in the business world. Refine yours with tweaks and new professional jargon from your field. When in an office environment, regardless if you’re selling, growing or buying, have the staff practice on each other and hone their skills for a walloping twenty-second commercial. In this sound bite, you are presenting a win-win situation—a win for you and a win for your small business.

At all points in your small business career, it’s critical to portray competence, either in the private sector, to a contracting officer or prime contractor. Would your company be able to satisfy the terms of a contract without your support? What if I – as a contracting officer – get ill during a crucial part of the contract? Would I have reasonable confidence that your company could still make it happen?