Navigating the Government Procurement Maze – Phase 2

Lessons in Patience

Maze2We decided that because we are pretty good at materials and materials processing that the DOE (Department of Energy) would be a good place to start our marketing effort. We have all heard about DOE recently but they do more than just issue loan guarantees to Solyndra.

DOE currently operates 17 national laboratories, many with multiple locations. These range from the well-known Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee to the less well-known Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, VA.

With only one exception, we found we had to register with each laboratory in order to be listed as a potential supplier. We learned that:

  1. Each lab has a differently designed website — some are good — others, not so much
  2. Finding the link to online registration is sometimes very difficult
  3. Once a link is found there is no standard registration form, but all do require TIN, CCR, and NAICS numbers.
  4. Online registration with some labs is not possible and requires a telephone call
  5. Fax numbers for registration may not be operational
  6. Patience, patience, patience.  This was the biggest lesson, we think.

Also listed by the DOE as scientific user facilities are 55 other entities with which we will need to register. Right now we aren’t sure what services we might provide to the Linac Coherent Light Source Facility, but we are doggone sure going to find out.

Marketing is work, and patience is required despite who the target market is. We suspect that since we are now armed with our TIN, CCR, and NAICS codes that marketing to the DOE won’t be a great deal different than marketing to MEGACORP with 50 facilities in 20 states that produce different products.

We still have to find out what they do, how they do it, who does it, and whether or not OPF Enterprises can provide something they need and maybe even something they want. As manufacturing and ceramic consultants as well as equipment representatives, we are fairly confident that our persistence will eventually pay off. Our philosophy remains consistent to provide a dedicated service that adds maximum to the organizations we are serving.

Thomas Edison perhaps did more start-ups that anyone in history. Each invention required years of patience, persistence, and a multitudes of failures. Out of those thousands of efforts, he is credited with 1,093 patents. He is often quoted as describing patience as, “Everything comes to him that hustles while he waits.” That’s a great way to put it for sure.

There are tons of books out to help develop patience or enhance your patience. We do believe it is something that can be practiced and improved. One of the first steps is to admit you need to have more patience and that your lack of it often leads to bad decisions. Unless you are in the ER, operating room, or on the field of battle, no imminent threat exists forcing an immediate decision. Once you get in the habit of not having an immediate solution for each situation, you will start to use realistic thinking instead of impulse thinking.  Now don’t confusion patience with putting off the inevitable. If you say you will get back to someone, do it timely or lose credibility.

Do not let your fear of failure get in the way of doing the work involved to cover many bases that might lead to a business for your team. A recent book by Steven Pressfield is in fact titled, Do The Work. Here’s a snapshot from Mr. Pressfield’s work as he describes it himself.

Do The Work isn’t so much a follow-up to The War of Art as it is an action guide that gets down and dirty in the trenches.  Say you’ve got a book, a screenplay or a startup in your head but you’re stuck or scared or just don’t know how to begin, how to break through or how to finish.  Do The Work takes you step-by-step from the project’s inception to its ship date, hitting each predictable ‘Resistance point’ along the way and giving techniques and drills for overcoming each obstacle.  There’s even a section called ‘Belly of the Beast’ that goes into detail about dealing with the inevitable moment in any artistic or entrepreneurial venture when you hit the wall and just want to cry ‘HELP!’

Navigating the maze is quite the challenge in start-up mode. You are pulled in many different directions and often found treading in water over your head. Keep swimming. Your core belief system and entrepreneurial spirit are what lead you to go out on your own and weave the many mazes involved. This same drive and determination that brought you to the maze – will lead you to the other side.

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