Big Businesses Reach Out to Small Minority-Owned Suppliers

Securing a contract to supply goods or services to a big corporation could be godsend for a small business at a time when consumer confidence (and spending) has plummeted. Small business owners, especially minorities and women, should be aware that several big businesses have programs in place to actively reach out to and cultivate their network of small suppliers.

Not only do many of these corporations provide the potential for lucrative contracts, but some of them also offer mentoring programs. At IBM, for example, the corporation individually assigns executives to offer guidance to promising small suppliers for up to a year and a half.

To be considered by a corporation that seeks out minority suppliers, you must first certify your business as a minority business enterprise (MBE) or women business enterprise (WBE). The requirements for certification generally include:

  • You must be from a specified ethnicity or a woman.
  • You should have ownership of at least 51 percent of your business.
  • You should have have solid business management practices in place and financial viability.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen.

Be sure to check out the the Billion Dollar Round Table. Each member corporation spends at least $1 billion annually with minority- or women-owned suppliers.

Any potential small business supplier to big businesses- whether minority owned or not- should also take a look at the National Business Matchmaking Online Network. This organization helps bring corporate and government buyers together with small companies through a series of regional events and networking tools.

(Image Credit)

Does Palin Help or Hurt the Image of Working Mothers?

The recent announcement of Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket has spawned much discussion and debate about the ability of working women to balance motherhood with careerism.

Women traditionally have felt and still feel that they need to change themselves in order to succeed in the working world. And there is much disagreement over the effects and benefits that these changes have on women when it comes to being wives and mothers.

On one hand, various studies indicate that one of the major motivating factors for women starting their own business is to have more flexibility and a better work-life balance. This means they can work and still have the time and energy to focus on their family life. Many mothers further claim that having and raising children sharpens their decision making and planning skills, and in short makes them better suited to be in the business world- whether they are working for themselves or others.

On the other side of this issue stand a surprisingly significant number of working women. Many women claim that it is hard to juggle work and family obligations even when they are running their own business and even though they began their ventures seeking more flexibility and freedom.


Ms. Palin has put herself at the center of this debate by virtue of the fact that she is publicly straddling two very challenging positions. It goes without saying that filling the Vice Presidential slot will demand more than a typical 9 to5 job, and as many point out, her family responsibilities will also require an additional dose of care and attention. (Check out this recent post on and read the comments that follow.)

So will Ms Palin help or hurt the image of working mothers? I believe the real answer lies in how she ends up handling these two roles if elected. Her success will depend on her ability to set aside the necessary time and attention for herself and her family while still carrying the responsibilities of Second-in-Command.

If she succeeds, she will be a role model of sorts for working mothers everywhere- even with all the other speculations going around. If she fails, it could force a lot of working mothers to reevaluate the way in which they are giving out their time and energies.

Only time will tell.

Image credit: From Flickr user infacinatorinc









Businesswoman of the Month: Ellen Rohr

Yes, I know, we have never had a “Business Woman of the Month”, but i was so impressed by Ellen’s work (and personality) that I decided that maybe we should start one.

Ellen RohrI recently ran across Ellen Rohr’s “Bare Bones” Business site. As I was looking around, I was really impressed by the number of top quality of resources she puts out for small business owners. Plus, it’s fun! Once you see her videos, you’ll quickly get a sense of her high energy, quirky personality, her sharp mind, and her sincere desire to help other small business owners.  Ellen also runs a great blog and brings great guests to her site to share their thoughts as well.

Who is this lady? The short story is that she was able to turn her family business around after almost sinking it! After she sold it for a pretty penny, she ‘retired’ to a country farm and decided to share what she had learned with others. For 13 years she has been doing just that through Bare Bones Biz, a training and consulting company.

Whether training for a marathon, training other small business owners, or just setting the pace for them to succeed, Ellen puts her heart in everything she does.

What does she do? Here is what she says about it:

“I teach the basics, the simple disciplines that can take your company from flab to fit. I’ve written three books on business basics, Where Did the Money Go? – Accounting Basics for the Business Owner Who Hates Numbers, and How Much Should I Charge? – Pricing Basics for Making Money Doing What You Love and The Bare Bones Biz Plan – a simple Plan for creating a winning business.”

In addition to her books, her training program and her business plan software, Ellen offers a bunch of free resources to help out with your business.  Webinars, podcasts, blog posts: you name it, she’s got it.

Recent Webinars include:

  • Crafting a Winning Business – How to Create a Bare Bones Biz Plan
  • How to Sell to SELLfish pPeople.
  • How to Seek and Eliminate NEGATIVITY in your Company!

Recent Podcasts series include useful topics such as:

  • Setting Sight
  • Building the Team
  • Making Money
  • Getting it Sold

I’m so glad I got to find out about this awesome woman, and share some of the great stuff that she’s doing with my readers..

How to Define Your Personal Values, Vision and Goals

Every successful company has a list of values, vision and goals — although some “mean” them more than others. What I mean, is that sometimes they are empty phrases so that they have an answer if someone asks, “What are your company values?” Other companies, really try to integrate their values, make decisions with their vision in mind, and set goals which will help them in their vision. If these 3 definitions are important for a company, then they are crucial for an individual. Without values, vision and goals, individuals float around life with out anything _real_ to base their decisions on, and without working towards anything in particular.

1) Discover Your Values

A good first step in uncovering values, is the “eulogy” exercise. Sleep on it, and then don’t spend more than three minutes jotting down a eulogy that you hope is said one day (many years from now) at your funeral. Who would say it? What do you hope they would say about you? Now, go back and read it and see what the central themes are. It is likely that these are your values.

2) Pare them Down to Core Values

Most people can come up with a ton of things that they value, but it is impossible to focus on all of them at once. Pick about three core values which are most important to you and non-negotiable.

3) Integrate your Values into your Vision

There are two elements of a vision: envisioned future and core ideology. The latter outlines your core value and what you see as the primary purpose of your existence. The envisioned future has a 10-30 year goal with a vivid description which describes what achieving that goal will be like.

Your vision should deal with your place in the world and the effects from your actions. It should take your values and place them into context of what you want to do with them, where you want to be in life, and how you want to effect those around you.

4) Defining your Goals

Goals should be attainable and in line with your vision and values. It is good to have staggered goals — some which are easier to attain in a short amount of time, and other bigger, more challenging ones which are in the distance.

5) Checking-In

As you progress through life, you may find that your values change – as you attain goals, you will have new ones. Sometimes you will lose track of your values, vision and goals. In any of these cases, a regular “check-in” will be helpful. Ask yourself questions such as: Have I been living according to these values and this vision? and Am I making progress towards my goals. If the answer is no, then either you have been lazy, or else you might need to reexamine the values, vision and goals that you have set.

Women & Minority Small Business Owners Luck Out in Iowa

Reported in The Gazette – Cedar Rapids, IA

“The Targeted Small Business program provides low-interest financing for small businesses that are at least 41 percent owned by a minority, woman or person with a disability. “

This article tells of 3 different restaurants which benefited from state loans with a 4 or 5% interest rate, ranging from $20,000 to $45,000.  I wonder what the credit requirements are…

For those of you who aren’t in Iowa, or don’t qualify for this sweet deal, remember that you still have options.  Even if you don’t qualify for a bank loan, you can still get financing you need for your business through alternative methods like business cash advance.  Also, known as credit card factoring, business cash advance can provide funds quickly to all types of small business owners – to women, minorities, the handicapped, and to everyone else as well.

Resources for Women with Small Businesses

For all those female entrepreneurs out there, here are some great resources that I found compiled on the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership site.  Some, like the library and courses, are good for all you entrepreneurs, regardless of gender.  Many of these organizations are great ways to network, in addition to the specific benefits and resources that they offer.

Here is the list from the SBA site:

Women Entrepreneurship in the 21st Century National Women’s Business Council Gateway for women-owned businesses selling to the government Association of Women’s Business Centers Business Gateway National Association of Women’s Business Owners National Association for Female Executives National Foundation of Women Business Owners SBA Library Free Online Courses SCORE Small Business Development Centers

FastUpFront is also great cash flow resource for small business owners of any gender, providing Cash Advances for Small Business Owners.