- Know the terrain when pursuing contracts.
Many Black entrepreneurs miss their destination: gaining lucrative government and corporate assignments. Why? They don’t have the right map to begin with. At our session on doing business with government, Lourdes Martin-Rosa, president of Government Business Solutions, directed entrepreneurs to visit American Express OPEN’s website to access Victory in Procurement (VIP), an educational program designed to help small business owners boost their business as they navigate through the government contracting maze. (American Express Open served as the sponsor for that session.) During another seminar on supplier diversity, conference sponsors Nationwide Insurance and mega-retailer Walmart provided session attendees with a step-by-step process for getting passed the door of corporate purchasing offices: Be specific the products and service you’re offering; know the company’s priorities and supplier standards; and clearly distinguish your company from the pack. Says panelist Leon Richardson, CEO of Southfield, Michigan-based ChemicoMays L.L.C. (No. 88 on the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE COMPANIES list with $28.5 million in gross revenues), a chemical management services company that serves automotive and pharmaceutical manufacturers: “Don’t use your minority status as your value proposition.”