I do a significant amount of work with federal government agencies, including the military. About 3 years ago someone from one of these agencies mentioned that I should get a GSA (General Services Administration) contract because it would make working with my company so much easier. I did a little investigation and found that the process to be certified and receive a contract was not easy. In fact, when printed, the GSA application is about the thickness of a phone book from Boston! And companies typically pay thousands of dollars to third party companies to walk them through the approval process. I decided to put things on hold.
About 20 months ago I made the decision to seek a GSA contract for my company. I gave Belinda, my accounts manager, a link to the application and simply said, "Let me know if you think we can complete it." A week later she came back and said, "I think we can." Twenty months later, we hold a GSA contract due to Belinda's amazing work (and my brilliance in recognizing someone of her tremendous talents).
In keeping with my process of always analyzing my "harvests" I can see several reasons why we were successful with our efforts. They include:
- Giving someone the time necessary to do a thorough job with the task. Belinda spent untold hours poring over the application and every detail. If I had rushed her through it, mistakes would have been made, and we would have been rejected more than once.
- Building a positive business reputation. Part of the application included getting reports from past customers. Because we had provided a quality service to our clients, we quickly found several willing to complete the surveys for us.
- Being professionally persistent. When we submitted our application, there must have been a billion other companies trying to receive a GSA contract. Belinda stayed in consistent contact with our GSA examiner and quickly gave clarifications or offered additional information when needed.
- Remembering to look at the situation from someone else's perspective. Several parts of the application seemed to have little relevance to a training company like ours and it was frustrating to complete those sections. When we stopped to remind ourselves that GSA uses the same application to review training organizations, defense contractors and office supply companies, we could see the relevance in those sections.
And lastly, knowing that we had done our best was of great comfort. At times it seemed like we were destined for failure with this initiative. In those moments we took solace in the fact that we had done everything humanly possible to complete the application correctly. And on April 23, 2012, we finalized a HUGE harvest!