Planning for Business With the Government: The Federal Procurement Calendar

Government requests for proposals do not allow much time between the announcement and the date a response is due-typically less than 45 days. Working with the government requires organizations to balance expert resources for keeping people engaged but not overwhelmed, especially when they are needed most.

The government funding cycle begins with strategic planning and ends with program implementation, and the management of expert resources throughout this cycle directly impacts an organization’s success rate. Consequently, organizations that best understand their optimal resource mix will be best prepared to align themselves with governmental needs and to respond with the best, most cost-effective proposals.

Federal Procurement Calendar

Federal procurement drives contracting at all levels of government, from multi-national projects to smaller community projects. The following outline applies to most federal agencies during a normal fiscal year. These milestones will help you orient your business plans to the government’s schedule.

  • The federal fiscal year begins October 1, three months before the start of the calendar year. For example, Fiscal Year 2014 (or FY14) began on October 1, 2013.
  • Between October 1 and mid-January, agencies begin spending the funds previously authorized for the current fiscal year and begin preparing budget proposals for the following fiscal year.
  • In late January or early February of each calendar year, the President submits his budget to Congress for the next fiscal year. For example, in February 2013, the President submitted the proposed budget for FY14.
  • In February through April, Congress engages in a budget resolution process that specifies spending levels for all federal agencies.
  • Between May and September, Congress appropriates funds for federal agencies and programs in a series of budget bills.
  • Beginning in October, federal agencies release proposed guidelines describing priorities for and the process by which appropriated funds will be spent for each program. The public is invited to comment.
  • In December to January, after a comment period (usually 60 to 90 days) the agencies begin to release final guidelines and then funding announcements and requests for proposals and applications.
  • In normal budget years the peak period for publication of requests for proposals and applications is between February and May.
  • Deadlines for submission of proposals/applications are usually from 30 to 90 days after publication of the announcement, so that due dates peak between March and July.
  • The proposal review process usually is completed within another 60 to 90 days, so that funding awards can be made in time for programs or services to begin on October 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.
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Where To Find Your Business Loan And Are You Qualified?

Many times, when a new or struggling business owner determines that they need a business loan to start or grow their company, they first think about where to get that loan and then begin to worry about being qualified.

Do I look at alternative lenders? Do I seek out a SBA loan? Do I forgo the business loan and look for a personal loan? Will my bank fund my business or my need?

Then,

Will my bank understand why there is a blemish or two on my credit report? Will the lender require more in cash flow then my business is currently earning? Or, will I have enough financial collateral for an alternative loan or physical collateral for a bank loan?

These are common questions, issues and worries that nearly all business owners – seeking capital – go through.

And, while these are all great questions that a business owner should be thinking about – they should not be the first questions that a potential business borrower should be asking (asking themselves or others).

Where To Find Your Business Loan

Where to look for a business loan really depends on two things – not your credit or collateral – but on:

  1. How much you are seeking, and
  2. What the funds will be used for.

How Much

Let’s say that you are seeking a large business loan – say $10 million to buy commercial property for your business. The amount that you are seeking would severally limit your loan options. For one, the SBA caps their loan guarantee limits – thus, a SBA loan might be out of the question. Further, many banks – either local banks or local divisions of national banks limit their exposure in any one single loan and as such they tend to limit the amounts they will put out to one borrower.

Thus, your only option here might be a financing company (a non-bank financial company) that deals with large commercial loans only or a venture capital firm.

Or, let’s say that your business only needs a small loan – say around $30,000. Now, very few banks like to underwrite business loans this small – they claim they cannot make money on them. Further, many of the alternative business lenders out there (even the new ones) do not like to fund loans under $50,000 – they claim that these loans are not worth their time and effort.

The amount that you are requesting matters in that most lenders have sweet spots and if you don’t fit that sweet spot – they will not fund your request no matter what else your business brings to the table.

Use Of Funds

Once you narrow down lenders that are willing to provide the amount you are seeking (there are lenders out there for every need), then you have to determine if that lender will also fund the reason your business needs that financing.

Some lenders will only fund equipment financing. Some will only fund commercial real estate and some will not fund working capital or goodwill (in the purchase of a business) even though they will fund almost anything else.

Most alternative lenders will finance working capital needs but do not finance equipment, payroll or real estate (even though you might use those funds to purchase those items) you will not get a loan specifically for those needs nor will the underwriting process be geared to those needs.

It is one thing to find a bank or lender that will provide the amount of money you are seeking – it is another to find a lender that will fund both the amount and use (or a lender that will fund all your specific needs – as one may fund equipment but not working capital while another will fund working capital but not equipment).

Then, after you identify a lender that has a product for you – that matches your needs (amount and use) – then you transition into the qualification portion.

Are You Qualified

Once you have identified a potential lender – then it is really up to you to research and understand what qualifications you need to meet for that particular lender.

Example: Most banks look for credit, cash flow and collateral to approve their loans. But, you determine that, while you meet those types of criteria, your bank will not fund your request (in amount or use). Thus, you switch your search to say an alternative lender.

But, even though you might meet a bank’s requirements, you still might not meet an alternative lender’s qualifications.

While banks look at credit and cash flow, an alternative lender might not and be more focused on the collateral your business owns or is willing to pledge.

Or, while a commercial real estate financing company may be overly concerned about your cash flow an equipment leasing company may not care about that at all.

All lenders have their own policies – and they alone determine how much they will fund, what those funds can and cannot be used for and what their criteria for approval is.

Conclusion

Asking (even asking yourself) the right questions in the beginning can go a long way in not only getting you the business loan you need but can both save you time and a lot of headache.

How to Make Money Online Legally by Selling Things on eBay

Almost everyone by now has either used eBay or at least heard of them.

I haven’t, what do they do?

If you’re one of the few people who have not heard of eBay here’s a quick summary of what they do and how to can make money online legally using their site.

eBay allows you to sign up to their site and create a profile. It is usually very quick and easy to do this and requires very little effort on your part.

Once you have a profile on the site you can start putting things on to be sold. It’s as easy as that.

How do I sell things?

In fact all you really need to sell things on eBay is a camera to take pictures of things you would like to sell, and of course you need some things you would like to sell.

Once you have a profile on eBay you can start uploading photos of practically anything that can be ascribed a monetary value.

Everyone has things lying around or tucked away that they simply do not use anymore. Well these bits and pieces can be used to make you some money. Why not have a clear out of your house or apartment and see what you might have to sell. You might not think you have anything but have a look around and you will soon find that juicer you never use or that games console that is too out-of-date for your kids.

Use your digital camera to take some pictures of these items. If you don’t have a digital camera then simply use the one on your phone. Always upload a photo for your item.

Get the pictures on your computer and upload them to your eBay profile.

Write a short description to make your item sound as wonderful as it is and you will have another example of how to make money online legally.

How can I do this well?

Make sure you take some good photos of your items. Do not use pictures that are too dark or do not show the item clearly. Use the flash on your camera or turn the light on.

Make sure you write a description. A lot of eBay users are guilty of writing the bare minimum. Be different and make your items stand out by giving a thorough description of the item.

Make sure you are trustworthy by just being truthful. If the photo frame you are selling has some scratches be honest about it. You don’t want someone to send the item back, or demand their money back because of a few scratches. You might not get as much money by being truthful but at least you won’t get bad feedback either.