See that blue arrow pointed to that guy’s head? He might be a wealthy man one day. If he plays his cards right, I give him a 43% probability of achievement which is something I cannot say about other entrepreneurial endeavors.
How Can I Be So Sure?
I took this picture at the National Veterans Small Business Coalition (NVSBC) a few weeks ago in Norfolk, VA where about 300 veteran-owned business executives gathered for the Veteran Entrepreneur Training Symposium 2017 (VETS17). The gent identified by the arrow is one of two millennials in a room full of no-hairs (like me) and grey hairs who call themselves small business government contractors.
There were only two millennials in attendance. I know this because as we did an impromptu age roll call during a luncheon and we only had two young men (both mid-thirties) stand-up. The rest of us stood up when 40, 50, 60, and 70 years old were called. I estimate the average age of these small business execs at 50.
Mind you, I did not spot anybody using a walker or a cane, but as I wandered the conference floor and attended sessions, I could not help but wonder who in the hell is going to replace us? Where is the young blood for this industry? As I see it, small business government contracting is not a sexy industry and thus not attracting millennial entrepreneurs. Remember the old Apple commercials featuring PC and Mac?
Not too hard to figure out which guy belongs in Washington, DC and the other in Silicon Valley. The PC/DC guy tends to wear suits and ties and the rules and regulations to conduct business are crushing. Few gov cons will set up shop in a WeWork environment, there will be no dogs in the office, and forget about the kegerator. Ask an MBA entrepreneurship class about heading east (assuming you are west of DC) to set-up a govcon business and eyes will dart to the floor.
So why should millennial entrepreneurs consider entering the govcon world? Below are my top four reasons:
- The US federal government is the world’s largest customer spending $400B annually and small business set-aside programs are a great way to started.
- Warren Buffett often discusses his economic moat concept in that a business should continue to widen the moat every year to keep its competitors at bay from its core business. There are many ways in government contracting to construct a business moat ranging from company ownership (i.e., set-aside eligibility), contract vehicles, and security clearances.
- Notwithstanding the PC guy pictured above, as I understand it, Washington, DC and its immediate surroundings are considered cool places to live. I am not a millennial and ceased being cool along time ago, so you have to make your own decision about this.
- Finally, it’s not all about money in government contracting. In my business, we serve active duty service members and veterans on a variety of programs and we enjoy a double bottom line; making a profit while supporting our Nation. For me, I can have my cake and can eat it too.
So pack up your stuff and Waze it to DC or Silicon Valley? Let me know your thoughts.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Dan Frank, CEO of Three Wire.