Hello and Good evening Ladies and to the gentlemen who adore us. Focusing on the purpose of this blog and Women’s History Month, I am sharing some vital information from the American Express Open Forum. Wishing all Peace and Prosperity! ~ Image Werks, LLC_Alicia J. Alexander

 The $27 Billion Opportunity for Women Business Owners : Innovation :: American Express OPEN Forum.

March 19, 2012

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The “Startup of the Week”

Start your week off with a little inspiration: Check out Donna Fenn’s Monday column for a look at some innovative new companies.

Anniversaries are as much a time to recognize past events as they are a chance to think about future opportunities. For female business owners, it’s been one year since the full enactment of the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program. And with it comes the opportunity for nearly $27 billion in annual government contracts1.

The final enactment of this program has been so crucial to female contractors because while the government has long had a goal of awarding 5 percent of all contracts to female business owners, it was one year ago that contracting agencies were provided the tools to make these awards.

The WOSB Program is already making a difference to female business owners, and the possibilities are enormous. Julie Weeks, president and CEO of Womenable, points out that government contracting could be the key for many female business owners to push their annual revenues past the elusive million-dollar mark.

Her research shows that 42 percent of female small-firm government contractors have business revenues in excess of $1 million, far exceeding the 1.8 percent of all small businesses that have achieved that level of success. You can read more about Julie’s research on women-owned businesses and the million-dollar mark in the State of Women Owned Businesses Report.

Assistance for contract seekers

I also discussed future opportunities with Barbara Kasoff, president and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), an organization that played a major role in making the WOSB Program a reality. “Fully enacting the WOSB Program didn’t happen by accident: female business owners made it happen,” she points out. And she attributes the success largely to persistence—the same persistence that will serve female business owners in what Barbara sees as the next big challenge: getting available contracts into the hands of women-owned small businesses.

To help female business owners meet the next challenge, the Give Me 5 WOSB Opportunity Forum on Apr. 2 invites WOSBs to meet representatives from the State Department, USAID, Air Force, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Interior, who will detail their acquisition strategies. Give Me 5 will also offer a special series of pre- and post-event webinars to help you make the most of this opportunity. For more details and registration information, visit WIPP’s site or e-mail Michael Fravel at mfravel@wipp.org.

Advice from a contract winner

The WOSB Program and assistance from Give Me 5 are already making a difference to women and their businesses. Take Hester Clark, president of The Hester Group, a Jacksonville, Florida-based firm that provides program management and strategic communications services to private corporations and government agencies.

Last July, Clark participated in a Give Me 5 webinar, “Top Five Must Do Strategies for Winning Government Contracts.” She immediately implemented the strategies and won two contracts in September 2011: one for $4.0 million with the Food and Drug Administration, and another for $2.5 million with the Navy Fleet Support Center. Not all participants can boast this kind of quick success, of course, but Hester’s achievements shows how new contracting opportunities already appear to be benefitting female business owners.

Hester told me she’s already submitted proposals for more government projects and is confident that her firm will have another contract in its future. Meanwhile, her advice to other female business owners: “I strongly encourage others to participate in available opportunities. I also encourage WOSBs to gather together and form teams (I like to call it a business sisterhood) with other WOSB to make the best pitch for new business. I am an avid consumer of all of the online support such as the American Express OPEN and WIPP Give Me 5 program, and other informational support groups. Continue to learn from one another, and take the first step, by submitting a proposal to win!”

The past year has made a real difference for some of those who have stepped up and taken advantage of the WOSB Program. I hope you’ll step up and see how you can build your future in government contracting by joining us for the next Give Me 5 program on Apr. 2.

1 $27 billion represents 5% of the U.S. government’s fisal year 2011 contract spending