Small Business News Archives

April 2020

The high cost of a bad hire – and how to avoid it


Bad hires are an incredibly common problem in the business world. And they impact businesses in more ways than you might think – both monetarily and non-monetarily. You may be surprised to discover how quickly the cost of a bad hire adds up and how prevalent the issue is.

Consider these results of a 2017 CareerBuilder survey:

  • The average cost of one bad hire is nearly $15,000, factoring in the recruiting, interviewing and selection process; training; and salary.

  • Two in three workers have accepted a job that they later realized was a poor fit. Half of these workers quit within six months, causing their employers to start all over again with filling the position.

  • 74 percent of employers say they’ve made a bad hiring decision

February 2020

We partner with Insperity to bring you relevant thought leadership content that can help you mitigate risk, maintain HR government compliance and grow your bottom line.

New employment laws to watch in 2020


Every new year brings new employment laws, and 2020 is no different.

There are some big changes employers need to know about at the federal, state and local levels.

Change at the federal level: White-collar exemption rules

Updates to the so-called “white-collar exemption” to federal overtime rules have been in the works for a long time. For many years, the minimum salary exempt employees could earn was $455 a week, or $23,600 per year.

Continue reading here:


2019 AFCEA Small Business Year in Review


As we wrap up 2019, I’ve enjoyed going back through my calendar, looking back at all the fun we had in the AFCEA Small Business community.

Highlights include:

Connecting with 587 attendees from 360 different organizations at our Procurement Series networking events in 2019. Sign up for our January 2020 event here.

Cheering on the 22 innovative small businesses pitching in our AFCEA Showcase series on CybersecurityTV.netRead about the companies and watch the episodes here.

Bidding a fond farewell to Katie Helwig and Carizza Rosales, along with welcoming Laura Allen and Brenda Puch to our team. See the AFCEA Membership team here.

Celebrating our Small Business Awards winners and finalists at TechNet Cyber in Baltimore. Winners and finalists listed here.

Enjoying small business--focused events at TechNet Augusta in Augusta, Georgia. Event coverage here.

Retiring the American flag at our old AFCEA building and moving to shiny new offices down the road. Come check it out!

Bringing mentors and protégés together in our pilot program. Sign up for our FY20 program here.

Hearing from incredible guest speakers throughout the year during our AFCEA Small Business Committee meetings each month. More information about the SBC here.

Gaining visibility and helpful feedback for small business innovators at our Alamo ACE Showcase. Awesome group shot here.

Discussing the benefits of engaging in AFCEA Small Business community with Eric Strauss, Tan Wilson and Mark Amtower on Federal News Radio. Listen here.

On a somber note, we were deeply saddened to say goodbye to longtime AFCEAN and friend Robert Babiskin this year. Read about his inspiring life here.

Sincere thanks to everyone who came together to make #AFCEASmallBusiness a vibrant, useful network for all. Reach out anytime if you want to get involved and don’t know where to get started. I have a good feeling about 2020—it’s going to be another great year!

Our October Small Business Committee meeting featured guest speaker Mauricio Vera, director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Robert K. Ackerman of SIGNAL Magazine covered the meeting. Read more about the Small Business opportunities available at USAID here:

Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Fertile USAID Ground for Small Business



Our June Small Business Committee meeting included an in-depth discussion on how the board members benefit from AFCEA engagement.

We took notes and summarized them here:

What is the SINGLE BEST piece of advice you have received from a mentor, colleague, co-worker, or client, and how has it tangibly benefitted your business?

  • Government contracting is a small community—if you leave a trail of questionable behavior, it will follow you. Be consistent, be honest, add value and don’t be rude.
  • AFCEA is what you make of it. The more you put in, the more benefits you receive.
  • It’s business. It’s not personal. You have to hear “no” 19 times to get to one “yes.” People will buy from you if they like you. If they don’t like you, they will find ways not to buy from you.
  • Don’t lose sight of the fundamentals.
  • Work with people you know. Be fair. There’s a fine line between friendship and business.
  • It’s more expensive to do nothing and not make a decision. Go with what you have and give it everything you have.

Describe the most rewarding AFCEA-related experience? What made it so rewarding?

  • Diversity. AFCEA is diverse not just in gender or culture, but also in perspective and experience.
  • Finding respite from work in AFCEA events.
  • The national and international aspects and working with other AFCEA committees.
  • Sponsoring/exhibiting an AFCEA event. It built team spirit. It helped hone company focus and direction.
  • Small Business networking opportunities. The SBC government speakers such as those from GSA and DHS are valuable. It’s very difficult for a small business to get that access. The mentor-protégé program opens doors for members.
  • Obtaining a better understanding of small business needs.
  • Becoming more involved with AFCEA.

What AFCEA-provided tools have you found useful in reaching out to partner outside of our committee?


AFCEA Small Business Awards 2019


We are pleased to recognize the AFCEA small business individuals and companies nominated for the 2019 AFCEA Small Business Awards. They have demonstrated a commitment to AFCEA's mission, values and activities in the areas of client service; ethics; community and professional outreach; innovation; and leadership.

AFCEA Small Business of the Year

Awards one company for excellence in client service, training and innovation, community and professional outreach, leadership and commitment, and diversity. Read about each finalist company here.

Winner: USmax Corporation


BridgePhase, LLC

C-Edge Software Consultants

Definitive Logic

Entellect, LLC

FishEye Software, Inc.

Interloc Solutions, Inc.

Oasys International Corporation


Segue Technologies



Wakelight Technologies

AFCEA Small Business Person of the Year—Industry

Recognizes an individual working in industry who has demonstrated excellence in client service, ethics, community and professional outreach, innovation and leadership. Read about each finalist here.

Winner: Chris Cusano, Blue Triangle Consulting


Hillary BoyceIntellecTechs, Inc.

Joy HessWakelight Technologies, Inc.

Sekhar PrabakarCEdge Software Consultants

Eric StraussConnected Logistics

Sean Caulfield, Caulfield Consulting, Inc.

Thomas DeWitt, SNVC, L.C. 

Jim Masonbrink, Wright Brothers Institute

Jackie Robinson-Burnette, Live Oak Bank

Tan WilsonEntellect LLC

AFCEA Small Business Person of the Year—Government

Acknowledges an individual who works for the government who has demonstrated excellence in small business advocacy, leadership, community and professional outreach, innovation and ethics. Read more about each finalist here.

Winner: Sonya DeLucia, Office of Small Business Programs, Aberdeen Proving Ground, (OSBP-APG)


Christopher Molis, USAF Life Cycle Management Center (HNIK)

Wallace Sermons, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Bernadine B. Wyatt, Bureau of Engraving & Printing

Michael Yacobacci, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)

Mike Madsen, Defense Innovation Unit (DIU)

Bridget Gauer, National Institutes of Health

AFCEA Small Business Advocate of the Year

Awarded to the company that has demonstrated excellence in its mentor-protégé program; contract/sub-contract relationships; small business events and advocacy, ethics and diversity. Read more about the advocates here.

Winner: Ludmilla ParnellGeneral Dynamics Information Technology


Christopher RobertsonUnisys


February 1, 2019

From the desk of Elizabeth Moon...

Big Issues for Small Contractors


I recently chatted with Mark Amtower, host of Amtower Off-Center on Federal News Radio, along with our Small Business Committee chair, David Pak, CEO of USmax Corp., and co-chair, Eric Strauss, director of business development for Connected Logistics. The discussion included AFCEA’s role in the small business community, the rising use of multiple-award IDIQs and GWACs, the role of market research, and how to find bidding opportunities, as well as the role of events for networking, education and visibility. Listen here.

AFCEA engagement tip: Follow AFCEA and AFCEA's SIGNAL Magazine on FACEBOOKLinkedInTwitter and InstagramLike, comment and share. Use #AFCEA, #afceasmallbusiness and #AFCEATechNet to get wider visibility within the government contracting community. These small steps can help you create visibility and start influencing the conversation.

December 1, 2018

From the desk of Elizabeth Moon...

4 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Social Media Presence


A strong social media presence gives your company the opportunity to be the voice of authority, build trust with current and potential customers, and tell stories that move people.

Fairfax County’s Economic Development Authority recently sponsored a one-day social media conference, Fairfax Social Media Week. It was informative and engaging.

With a day full of enlightening information, it is a challenge to summarize what I learned. Here are my top four takeaways:

  1. From National Geographic, the number 1 brand on social media: “The best brands spark curiosity and keep feeding it.” National Geographic is a 130-year-old company that took bold risks and they paid off. The company strives for authenticity and energy, running their account through photographers in the field and partnering with purpose.
  2. From the Hug Your Haters: Dealing with Negativity Online panel: “Feedback is a gift.” Negative feedback provides the opportunity to listen with empathy. “Empathy is the single most important thing in social media.”
  3. Crisis management master and inspiration for the hit TV show Scandal Judy Smith is a big believer in preparation. Crisis comes from a company’s culture, and bad news travels faster than good. When facing a crisis, she recommends that companies, “Rip off the Band-Aid. Own up to your mistakes.” Pick the best way to respond (the best time, the best method). Your response should match the crisis. “Reputations take time to build.”
  4. The hugely successful digital programming specialists at Food Network shared practical tips for creating riveting content.
  • Know your audience. What is this person looking for? Why does your message stand out?
  • Consider the platform you are using.
  • Measure engagement with likes, comments and shares. It’s not just about views.
  • Copy still matters. Take the time to write well.
  • Use, reuse and recycle content.
  • Embrace surprises. Balance the tried-and-true with the unexpected.
  • Improvise. Find inspiration everywhere.

Small business ingenuity is a driver for government innovation, and if you want to change the world, you have to be a part of it. Use social media authentically and energetically to tell your company’s story.

AFCEA engagement tip: Follow AFCEA and AFCEA's SIGNAL Magazine on FACEBOOKLinkedInTwitterand InstagramLike, comment and share. Use #AFCEA, #afceasmallbusiness and #AFCEATechNet to get wider visibility within the government contracting community. These small steps can help you create visibility and start influencing the conversation.

November 1, 2018

From the desk of Elizabeth Moon...

5 Keys to Strategic Partnerships in Government Contracting                                           

Last month I attended a class in Crystal City, Virginia provided by the Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Program, which is funded by the Department of Defense, Defense Logistics Agency. Jim Bender of ZK Development shared his subject matter expertise specifically regarding strategic partnerships in government contracting. Let’s discuss some of the keys to smart partnering.

Why it may be good strategy for your company

For our small businesses that are new to the federal sector, there are many benefits to teaming up with other businesses when working to win contracts. These include:

  • Access to contracting mechanism/schedule.
  • Eliminate a competitor by becoming partners.
  • Gain information by providing your capability and learning skills from another company’s capabilities.
  • Connect to an agency or office.
  • Secure a facility.
  • Reach a new population or audience.
  • Share the financial risk and development costs.

Determine if your company is an attractive partner

First, consider answering the question, “Why do I want to buy from you?” Why would others want to partner with you?

  • What is your brand proposition?
  • What do you do?
  • How do you do it?
  • Each agency has its own culture--what is your agency experience?

Make it real and make it clear. (Jumping into the Innovation Shark Tank is a great way to hone your elevator pitch!)

Finding potential partners

Now that you know that you are interested in partnering and that you have something solid to offer other companies, where do you look? Here are some ideas:

  • Industry days.
  • Federal OSDBU Offices—Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
  • Resources like AFCEA’s Online Corporate Directory, FedBizOps, FEDMINE and GovWin.
  • Trade publications, digital media, LinkedIn.
  • My personal favorite: networking through trade associations (AFCEA is top-notch--listen to our Small Business Committee co-chairs take on this topic here.).

Pay attention to winners in your target agency. Confirm what they do and do not do. If possible, partner with the incumbent contractor or previous incumbent, but, whoever it is, make sure they know the agency.

Explore the potential partnership

Once you have identified the right candidate for partnership, get the first meeting and set the agenda.

  • Consider signing non-disclosure agreements.
  • Keep it light and be wary of people who overshare.
  • Document and follow up with a fearless examination of “SWOT”—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Protect yourself as you move forward

If everything looks good at this point and you want to proceed, protect your company in the partnership. It is important to understand the assumptions from which both partners are operating.  Considerations could include:

  • Specify the management structure, handling of the award fee and causes for termination.
  • Remember that brilliance does not always win the day—process matters.
  • Ensure goal alignment and transparency, and give your partner the benefit of the doubt.

Wisdom from our Small Business Committee:

  • “Relationships at all levels (admin, accounting, PM, etc.). Three deep and three wide!”—Christine Lanning, Integrated Security Technologies, Inc.
  • “Follow the Golden Rule! Do unto your business and teaming partners, as you would have them do unto you.”—Eric Strauss, Connected Logistics
  • “I would say always look for the win-win in a relationship. It shouldn’t serve just one of the parties in a relationship, but all of them. It’s also a bonus if you can build a team that goes after future business together, as a team. From a risk management perspective, it lowers risk to see a team that’s worked and delivered together successfully before.” –Laura Owens, Treada Technology Group, LLC
  • “My mantra is ‘Trust by verify’. Do your due diligence on the claims your potential partner makes. I’m not saying don’t trust them....Check with their customers, fellow colleagues who have worked with them and run a D&B (Dun & Bradstreet report) as well as [looking at] other sources.” –Tan Wilson, Entellect

  • “Find partners with integrity.”—Douglas McGuire, GINIA, Inc.

With careful planning, you can balance flexibility and accountability and win more business!

October 2, 2018

From the desk of Elizabeth Moon...

How can small businesses successfully attract and retain talent?

The last quarter of the fiscal year is an active one for acquisition professionals. According to, “Top talent may find itself in the crosshairs of contract bids and renewals. While their companies are shifting priorities, it may be a season where some professionals are ready to shift into a new position. “

What can your small business do to stand out to prospective employees?

I recently attended a seminar on this topic taught by Diana Waller of Chasing Dragons and hosted by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce. Chasing Dragons introduces recently transplanted professionals and their families to the Washington, D.C. metro area and answers their questions so they better understand how to re-create their lifestyle locally. 

Ms. Waller shared considerable insight, clearly articulating how small businesses can gain an advantage in recruiting talent. 

Here are my top 7 takeaways:

  • Recruit the whole person, not just the professional.
  • Involve your whole team in hiring. For example, if your desired candidate runs marathons, connect them with one of your current employees who also loves running and knows the best trails.
  • Manage your company’s culture and online reputation. Find out how your employees describe your company to their family.
  • Make it as pleasant to turn your offer down as it is to accept your offer. They may find that the job is right for them later.
  • Make it personal. Handwritten notes go a long way. If your offer is rejected, consider sending the message, “We wish you had worked here, please stay in touch.”
  • If your offer is accepted, take advantage of the onboarding process. It can either be a mess or it can showcase your company and increase retention.
  • Prepare for your new employee’s first day of work the way teachers prepare for the first day of school. Make it exciting; create a buzz.

The connection between hiring good people and ultimately winning more contracts is real.  

“You know, as most entrepreneurs do, that a company is only as good as its people. The hard part is actually building the team that will embody your company culture and propel you forward.”

 --Kathryn Minshew, The Muse

September 4, 2018

From the desk of Elizabeth Moon ...

A few months ago I endured the awkwardness that is learning about social graces in a room full of strangers, and survived. I even shared some good laughs with fellow participants, as you can imagine.

The class I attended was Networking Etiquette with Maggie Oldham, held at the swanky Watergate Hotel. In addition to enjoying the warm breeze blowing through Watergate's stunning rooftop bar, I picked up some great tips for networking.

Here is a countdown of my five favorite takeaways:

#5--Start off strong with good posture and a smile (normal-sized smile is good--no need to frighten anyone).

#4--Remember that the majority of people describe themselves as introverted or shy (I include myself in this group), and may hoping someone will approach them. We are all in this together.

#3--Easy, no-fail icebreaker: talk about the event or location where you are meeting this person.

#2--Ask a question, and then include their answer to your question in whatever you say next, incorporating it in a natural way. This shows you are paying attention and leads to deeper, more interesting conversations. Good listeners are nice to be around.

And my favorite insight of the evening:

#1--Every interaction is an opportunity to gain something. Depending on the situation, it may include: a different perspective, useful information, a new friend, a business opportunity, maybe even a romantic relationship. Networking is a numbers game—the more people you meet and connect with, the more you stand to gain.

I came away feeling more motivated to reach out and meet the people around me, wherever I may find myself. There is power in being open to new experiences and I look forward to whatever new perspectives, information and friends come my way.

August 1, 2018

From the desk of Elizabeth Moon ...

One of the panels during our July 26 Small Business Innovation Summit focused on successfully selling your small business technology/service to the government and other investors. I’d like to share a tip that has stayed with me.

As an experienced venture capitalist, Jim Hunt of Lavrock Ventures hears an average of 1.5 pitches per day. This means he’s reviewing what may be the “life’s work” of more than 545 brilliant, hard-working entrepreneurs per year! 

What is at the top of his deal-breakers list? Arrogance.

When entrepreneurs claim to have all the answers to all of the problems, it sends up a red flag. So let’s put this valuable insight into practice. Focus on one problem. Solve that problem. Communicate that solution authentically and effectively. Build trust and then grow from there.

Get feedback to help you perfect your pitch by swimming in our upcoming Innovation Shark Tank series. There are three dates available--October 17, October 25 and November 19. Register today!

July 28, 2018

LinkedIn Article: Women in Charge

April 30, 2018

LinkedIn Article: Small Business Person of the Year Finalists

April 24, 2018

From the desk of Katie Helwig...

Recently I spoke with Keith Trippie, host of GotURSix TV about my experiences as an Air Force Spouse; lessons learned; my role as AFCEA’s director of small business; and a big idea to help active duty, government, families and industry come together. GotURSix TV is a digital platform to interview entrepreneurs, influencers, military spouses, executives and government officials who are willing to share their inspirational personal journeys. Click here to watch. 

March 15, 2018

LinkedIn Article: Networking Tips to Make the Most of an Outreach Session

March 9, 2018

From the desk of Katie Helwig...

Sometimes it is challenging to break in to the government contracting community because members of many companies have known each other for years. We’re here to create e-introductions to chapter officers and help you strategize ways to engage.

There are so many small business events advertised for the GOVCON community it can be hard to choose. To help you decide, answer two questions:

1)      Will the knowledge gained by attending this event provide a business capture advantage?

2)      Will the atmosphere be conducive to meeting new colleagues and strengthening existing relationships?

AFCEA Small Business crafts programs to provide a resounding “YES!” to the above.

February 9, 2018

LinkedIn Article: Sharon Jones' Last Public Appearance as DISA's SB Director

January 21, 2018

From the desk of Katie Helwig...

Recently, I took Guy Timberlake’s two-day boot-camp on “Ethical Stalking for The Government Contractor.” One of the golden nuggets I walked away with was how to exploit the concept of situational awareness in terms of finding opportunities and all the places to "stalk" to qualify. Guy will share his "secret sauce" and other valuable insights during AFCEA’s corporate member exclusive, “Finding Opportunities,” on February 21.

Sometimes it is challenging to break in to the government contracting community because members of many companies have known each other for years. We’re here to create e-introductions to chapter officers and help you strategize ways to engage. I will be happy to help AFCEA small business corporate members break the ice at: “DLA J6 JETS and Small Business” on February 7, Finding Opportunities on February 21, New Horizons on February 27-28 and “Let’s Talk About FLASH 2 and EAGLE 3” on March 20.

January 12, 2018

LinkedIn Article: Bastille is the Latest AFCEA DC Cyber Shark Tank Finalist.

March 17, 2017

LinkedIn Article: PMs Provide Pensive Perspectives

October 25, 2016

LinkedIn Article: AFCEA Committee Members Discuss Large and Small Business Partnerships

September 10, 2016

LinkedIn Article: The One that Got Away


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