​The Fallacy of “Low Hanging Fruit”

We were in discussions with a prospective client about supporting their efforts within the DoD space, and one of the directors made a comment about “low hanging fruit.” He proceeded to say that they weren’t interested in taking years to build opportunities or relationships and want the low hanging fruit that will provide quick revenue streams for their product lines.  There are multiple issues with this scenario that need to be addressed.  

1. No such thing as “Low Hanging Fruit”: The Urban Dictionary provides a great definition of targets or goals which are easily achievable and which do not require a lot of effort.  OTAs are the closest thing to low hanging fruit that I know of and they still take a lot up front work to get to the winner’s circle. Typically, it will take two years or more before you break into a serious contract.  

2. Defense Is Unlike Other Industries: The amount of information required to understand the defense industry is a barrier to entry for most businesses.  Sometimes it takes years to break in and then you are still bogged down with cyber, reporting, and other regulatory requirements.

3. Education and Understanding: There are multiple ways to attack this, but it all takes time, effort, and money.  For most small businesses, there isn’t enough of this to go around. Three potential courses of action (COAs).

a. COA 1 - Do It on Your Own – Find your local PTAC and get signed up for classes.  
b. COA 2 - Hired Gun – Hire a part-time consultant to help.  
c. COA 3 - Capital Investment – Hire a great BD professional who knows the business.

4. Skin in The Game:  Are you willing to put some skin in the game?  This gives your potential customers confidence in your ability to withstand the peaks and valleys that come in the defense business.  

Are you willing to take the time to build meaningful relationships and learn the business?  Are you willing to spend the money in education and resources to learn the business?  Are you willing to risk everything to enter the Defense Industry?  

At the end of the day you must ask yourself – “What are you willing to do to get to where you want in the Defense Industry?”  

Do Unto Others…Even in Business

The other day I contacted a customer for late payment on a Net 30 contract.  She informed me that the definition of Net 30 is payment in 28-34 days.  I seriously doubt my vendors would agree.  I do understand the billing cycle is set to a specific interval.  We do that, too, but we ensure that a bill due on or after 30 days gets paid at the earlier billing cycle.  After my initial surprise, I decided that they can do business however they want.  They are an organization that runs on a process that their leaders are satisfied with.  I also decided after that call, that my organization will not run like that.  My company has grown into an entity; we are long past a freelance business.  But, I, and the people I choose to join my organization can still choose to follow a standard that each and every one of us should set for ourselves.  Treat others, even in business, the way you want to be treated.  

So often I hear, “This person did it to me, so I can do it someone else.”  It’s a sad state of our culture that we look for an excuse to behave badly.  How about, “This person did it to me, and it caused damage.  I choose NOT to do it to anyone else.”?  Let your freedom allow you to choose what is right and noble. Don’t let it be an excuse to cause more harm.   

Written By: Katie Bigelow

How to Greet a Woman in Business Situations

I honestly don’t know the “proper” thing to do in this situation, but here is my perspective.  Your greeting should not take on a gender spin, ever.  If you would shake a man’s hand, you should shake a woman’s hand.  If you want to hug the man, then I suppose you can offer a hug to the woman, too.  

Please consider carefully here.  Choose a universal greeting that you are comfortable offering anyone. And I mean anyone, regardless of gender, hygiene habits, etc.  If your chosen greeting is as intimate as a hug, then be prepared to offer it to everyone equally not just people with fluffy lady parts.  

As an added note, please don’t involve the use of your lips in any greeting with anyone who is not your spouse. Your victims will appreciate you keeping your lips to yourself and so will their husbands. 

Written By: Katie Bigelow

Lasting Lesson from an OPD Session

Sitting with the officers of a high-powered Field Artillery unit, we thought we were the best thing since sliced bread.  The Battalion Commander proceeded to ask each of us what we considered a successful career within our given profession.  Our answers were most likely typical responses from young company grade officers; Battalion Command is what flowed around the circle.  Each of us thought this was the pinnacle of a successful career.  He proceeded to take the wind out of our sails and provide a lesson that has stuck for years.  He took about 20 minutes to teach us about professionalism through learning.  As he put it, becoming a “student” of your profession is more important than any other trait, and that will make you successful.  How does one become a “student” of any profession?  

1. Education
2. Training
3. Seek out a Mentor
4. Mentorship
5. Relationships
6. Networks

Master these items above, and success will happen. 

Written By: Mark Bigelow

How the Money Flows – A Simplified Look from My Foxhole

Now that we have an approved Budget; what’s next?  When will we see new start contracts for a given year?  

1. President’s Budget
2. Congressional Approved
3. Appropriations – HASC + SASC approval
4. Signed into Law
5. OSD - Office of the Secretary of Defense
6. Service Branch
7. Major Commands
8. Subordinate Commands
9. Program Executive Office or Tiered Command
10. Program Office
11. Product Office

The total process takes months to complete.  Being that we are at #3 today, it will still take upwards of 60 days or more to trickle down the line to #10.  

Yes, we can get into an entirely different discussion on how the services and program offices request funding but that’s too over-the-top for the typical industry partner.  This is a very simplified look from my understanding of the process on how the money flows. 

Written By: Mark Bigelow