One of America’s few modern military celebrities was Chris Kyle. Known for his sniper support role, he served with distinction and bravery before being honorably discharged, authoring a book, and inspiring a movie.
But Kyle was not the center of attention on the battlefields of Iraq. In fact, his job was sniper support – as observer and emergency fire – while Seals, soldiers, and Iraqi servicemembers cleared buildings and arrested terrorists.
Successful small business owners have a lot of Chris Kyles in their corner. It’s not enough to put your head down and charge the enemy – you need snipers, long-range fire support, air support, and more to succeed…and you need communications technology to ensure coordination so that the enemy is defeated and every member of the squad, platoon, and company can return safely to base.
Here are four kinds of long-range support your company will need during its life cycle. And unless they are in place, you risk being overrun by your competitors.
- Have a trusted attorney who knows your company, trusts your mission, and understands government contracting. Just like Navy Seals worked closely with Iraqi soldiers – instead of scrambling to find allies during missions – a working relationship with an attorney means that you can be supported no matter which side of the battle you’re on.
- Develop relationships with contracting officers. You can’t get a contract without the trust of the contracting officer – so why not proactively get to know him or her? Iraq wasn’t won without support from locals, and nobody is closer to a contract than the officer.
- Relationships with prime contractors will help you succeed in the same way that front-line units only succeed with larger units’ assistance. Some primes are legally required to subcontract to small businesses, so make sure you are at the top of the list. Like a battalion commander who trusts a company captain, they’ll supply what you need because you’re helping them accomplish their objectives.
Prime support will help your firm get the contracts necessary to fine-tune processes, increase profits and cash flow, and build the infrastructure necessary to scale.
- Hire or have on retainer a CFO-level financial strategist. Small business contractors notoriously struggle with cash flow because margins are small, the government pays slowly, and cost effective financial partners are hard to find. You don’t want to be scrambling after you’ve missed payroll or taken on bad debt any more than a military unit waits until they’re under fire to know who they’re going to rely on for air strikes, sniper support, or ground evacuation.
The military is a great culture for knowing how to build long-range support systems. The four types of critical support outlined above will help your company achieve its strategic and tactical objectives, and serve the government better through your small business.