Many of us small business owners dream of doing business "with the big guys." But what does that really mean? You can't take the field of dreams approach -- "If you build it, they will come." So how does a small business position itself to work with large corporations and government agencies? The Women's Business Center of California (WBCC) developed this expo to help you learn the process. What does it take to get contracts? How do you make sure that your company is ready to take on a large project? What are the first steps in finding appropriate contracts for your particular niche? Are you prepared to respond to an RFP? Are your financially strong enough to handle a contract? Do you have access to the proper expertise to perform? These are just a few of the questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves before going after a contract. Corporations and government agencies are taking a chance using small, untried businesses to fulfill their needs; it is imperative that you are prepared to make the most of this opportunity. If expectations are not met, there will be no second chance. So be financially and emotionally prepared to handle a contract before contemplating going after one. In order to help you be more prepared, the WBCC has assembled a diverse group of corporations and government agencies. Take advantage of them being in one room -- network, network -- and then network some more. Learn who, at each company, purchases the type of services and products you offer. Sometimes there is more than one division that you will need to speak to. Find out if they offer training on how to answer their RFPs. Each corporation and agency has their own way of doing things and you need to understand how to play in their environment. With the understanding that serious networking is the key to success, below are a few tips to get you in the door. ? Don't try to qualify for a huge contract in the beginning -- start in the $5,000 or $10,000 range. ? Partnering with another company will augment your expertise. ? Find a mentor who has prepared successful RFPs, preferably one who has worked for the company with which you are interested in doing business. ? Only target one to two companies/agencies at a time. This is a huge time commitment, and you still have to pay the rent and service your existing clients. ? Research the corporation or agency so you will be knowledgeable about their products. So welcome to our expo and we hope you will take advantage of the networking opportunity presented to you at "Mining for Corporate & Government Gold." Have a very successful day!
Carolyn Morrow Director, WBCC