Friday, May 31, 2013

Mississippi's PTAC Program Offers Assistance With Government Contracts

Last week I shared with you information on the federal Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) and their Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) nationwide.  This week I would like to share with you more information on the Mississippi PTAC program and how we can assist you.

Our office in Biloxi is called the South Mississippi Contract Procurement Center (SMCPC) and we are a part of the Mississippi Procurement Technical Assistance Program (MPTAP).  We have what are called Regional Procurement Centers (RPC) strategically placed throughout the state with offices located in Biloxi, Columbus, Greenville, Jackson, and Meridian.  These offices have directors and/or procurement counselors on staff to assist any business with a location in Mississippi pursue federal, state and local government contracts as well as contracts with prime contractors.  Each of our offices service specific counties.  The SMCPC office serves the 15 southern counties in Mississippi. 

The requirements on becoming a client of the MPTAP are fairly easy.... they are as follows:
  • You must be a Mississippi business or, if from outside the state, have a physical address in Mississippi.
  • You must agree to report quarterly the number and dollar value of contracts you receive whereby you feel that one of our MPTAP offices played a role. 
  • You must attend a New Client Orientation (NCO) prior to being accepted as a client.
  • You must have an email address and regular access to a computer with internet access.
  •  You must complete the on-line registration application, "Client Application" located on our website.
  • You must complete our "Self-Certification" form.
Our services are offered at NO CHARGE to our clients.  These services include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Electronic bid batch/notification
  • Outreach events
  • Targeted contractor assistance
  • Locating specialized contractors
  • Problem solving
  • Solicitation guidance
  • Referrals
  • Various government registrations (i.e. SAM, ORCA, VetBiz, etc)
  • Various certifications (i.e. 8(a), HUBZone, DBE, MBE, WBE, EDWOSB, etc)
Please visit our website and complete a "Client Application".  If you would like to speak to someone first, all contact information for our offices is located in the tab "MPTAP Network" below the large picture.

SMCPC conducts a group "New Client Orientation" the first Friday of each month.  The next one is scheduled for June 7th.  You have time to be included in this session.  Please complete your application now!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

MS Gulf Coast Tech Monthly Meetup

Rodney Brooks
image credit: jurvetson | Flickr
The MSGC Tech Monthly Meetup is tonight, May 29, 2013

Join us at The Innovation Center
1636 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi 
from 6:00pm until?

3 Mobile Options for Managing Your Business Cash Flow

Checks, cash, debit or credit cards are how you the small businessperson usually gets paid. Now, there is new technology that can help you manage your cash flow by determining how and when you will get paid. Most of us think of mobile payment options for businesses like plumbers, caterers, farmers’ market booths and festivals but more and more conventional businesses are using mobile devices. Please read the fine print before signing up for any service and make a list of what's important for your business and which service will fit your business best. There are costs associated with each type of the following services.

Here are three that Rhonda Abrams , president of The Planning Shop recommends:

1. Square
2. GoPayment
3. PayPal Here  

It is easy to sign up for each of these services and the companies give you the devices that will fit an iPad, iPod, or a Droid.  When you go to their sites they will have you download an app first and then you will be able to start swiping cards and receiving money into your account.  Following are some of the fees and services available with each type of device mentioned.

The square,, charges 2.75% of swiped and 3.5% plus 15 cents per transaction for un- swiped cards or they have a monthly plan where you pay $275 flat fee.  The square also offers a loyalty program and app for your consumers. 

Intuit’s GoPayment,, allows integration with QuickBooks and offers other products for the business owner that has a need for paying employees, inventory management, and payables easier. There are other business reports available to the business owner. The fees for GoPayment are 2.75% swiped and 3.75% un-swiped and they also have a monthly plan for $12.95 plus 1.75% swiped, and 2.75% un-swiped cards.

PayPal Here,, also has the same type o devices as the others but offers different ways to manage your sales and payments.  Business owners can have access to their money immediately where as other portal payment options can have a delay in when you receive money and how much you can receive.  The PayPal Here merchant card allows the business owner to withdraw from an ATM and you receive 1% back on purchases you make the debit card.  Fees involved are 2.7% swiped, 3.5% plus 15 cents per transactions un-swiped.  PayPal also offers a wallet app for your consumers and has 24/7 support.

With any of these services and others be sure to inquire about customer disputes with charges.  Does the service you choose give you the business owner the ability to inquire into a customer dispute or does the service take the customer word refund the money from your account and then let you the business know?  Again, read the fine print, check with other businesses that might be using one of these services and what will work for your business.

Would anyone like to share their experiences with any of these services are others?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What is "PTAP" and How Can it Help My Business?

The Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) was authorized by Congress in 1985 in an effort to expand the number of businesses capable of participating in the Government Marketplace. Administered by the Department of Defense, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the program provides matching funds through cooperative agreements with state and local governments and non-profit organizations for the establishment of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) to provide procurement assistance.

PTACs come in many different sizes and shapes, reflecting the needs, priorities and resources of the areas they serve. Some PTACs are administered directly by state governments; others partner with universities, community colleges, local economic development corporations or other local institutions. Some PTACs operate within Bureau of Indian Affairs areas exclusively serving Native American owned businesses. Many are affiliated in some way with Small Business Development Centers and other small business programs. All PTACs are staffed with counselors experienced in government contracting and provide a wide range of services including classes and seminars, individual counseling and easy access to bid opportunities, contract specifications, procurement histories, and other information necessary to successfully compete for government contracts.

Many PTAC counselors have backgrounds in government acquisitions and virtually all receive ongoing training to keep pace with continually evolving acquisitions procedures and policies. The Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) provides a network that allows any PTAC counselor almost instant access to the expertise and experience of over 500 colleagues, as well as real-time information from government agencies regarding new requirements and initiatives.

The best part is that PTACs provide a range of expert services at little or no charge to the business community.  To find a PTAC in your area visit Visit to find an office in Mississippi.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Need Assistance Starting Your Small Business?

The Gulf Coast Small Business Development Center (GC MSBDC) assists individuals that are interested in starting small businesses. Services provided by the GC MSBDC are provided free of charge and include one-on-one counseling sessions and the Business 101 Series workshops.  

The Business 101 Series workshops, listed below, are offered at The Innovation Center on a monthly basis. For additional information, times/dates and registration you may call the GC SBDC at (228) 396-8661 or visit our website at

Monthly Business 101 Series workshop schedule:

Think Like an Entrepreneur  

Have a business idea? Wonder how to analyze the idea for revenue potential? This seminar helps entrepreneurs understand the processes to use to conceptualize and analyze a business idea into a business venture. Once an entrepreneur understands the process of analyzing a business venture, they are able to repeat the process until they find a successful business venture. The seminar is taught by a person who has analyzed hundreds of business ideas, and started and sold multiple businesses.

Starting a Business - First Steps   

Are you interested in starting your own business, but don't know where to begin? This seminar outlines the basic steps to start a business. Topics include: regulations such as licenses and permits; legal forms of business ownership; basic marketing concepts to help analyze the revenue potential; lending terminology; outline for a business plan and proper business setup.

How to Develop a Business Plan   

This seminar is designed to assist in preparing a business plan. The parts of the business plan are explained i. e. industry research, description of company products and services, identifying target customer groups and a marketing plan. Financial components discussed are startup costs and gathering information to prepare a projected cash flow statement.

Cash Flow Projections for your Business Plan

This seminar is designed to convert your written business plan into cash flow projection numbers. Topics covered in the seminar include: fixed vs. variable expenses, cash flow projections, sources and uses of funds statement, determining start-up working capital requirements for the business and the contribution margin ratio.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

STARTUP WEEKEND Comes to Mississippi Gulf Coast

Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event where developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts come together to share ideas, form teams, build products and launch startups.

Plan now to join us at The Innovation Center in Biloxi this August 23-25th for this first-ever Mississippi Gulf Coast Startup Weekend sponsored by The Innovation Center, Innovate Mississippi and the Kauffman Foundation.

What is Your Company Worth?

Small company CEO's periodically ask me what I think their companies are worth. The question usually arises when the original company owner(s) are looking to sell equity in their company or to merge their company with another company. Company valuation is generally critical to these types of activities.

It continues to amaze me that small company CEO's don't think constantly about the value of their enterprises. Our job as entrepreneurs is to build the worth of our enterprises, our companies. Beyond the P&L's that owners consider daily, weekly, monthly, we should constantly consider what enterprise worth we are creating. This worth is wealth; this worth is value; this worth is our payoff.

As entrepreneurs, we always consider that our ideas, products, enterprises, etc. are worth a lot on money. Most of the time, we think that they are worth more than they actually are. I have always been guilty of this myself. The problem is that there isn't a market to figure out company valuations for us. Large publically traded companies have the NYSE or NASDAQ to determine company valuations minute by minute in open markets. Of course, there are companies that can actually appraise what smaller companies are worth if they decide to sell the company or stock in the company but this doesn't help us on a daily basis to determine value.

In determining company worth, as a daily ruler, I have always relied on a simple technique. I will periodically step back from my company and ask myself how much I would pay if I was on the other side and considering buying my company. It is amazing how different the valuation amounts were from me thinking as the owner (seller) and/or me thinking as a potential buyer of my company (buyer). I have never been willing to pay as a potential buyer of my company what I would want to charge as the potential seller.

Bottom line, a company is worth what someone will give for it at any given time. Small company CEO's need to focus on building company worth. If entrepreneurs think about building company worth, and make decisions based on increasing company worth, wealth will be created. Know what your company is worth; focus on building enterprise value.