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SBA programs help firms get government contracts

Also: Making good use of part-time and temp workers.

March 28, 2011|By Karen E. Klein

Dear Karen: How does a minority-owned small business get government contracts?

Answer: First, qualify for the Small Business Administration's 8(a) Business Development program, which is for small firms that are socially and economically disadvantaged, including those that are minority owned. The rules governing the 8(a) program have been revised recently, enabling more small businesses to qualify, said Lourdes Martin-Rosa, government contracting advisor for American Express OPEN.

If you don't qualify for the 8(a) program, there are other SBA certifications that may give you a competitive edge, including the Small Business, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business and HUBZone programs. If your company is woman-owned, there's also a new Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program you should investigate.

Criteria for all these programs are posted at; search the site for "small-business certifications."

• Temp work can be a trial run

Dear Karen: How can I make good use of part timers and temps?

Answer: Temporary, part-time and project-based employees can be a secret weapon for businesses, and their use is becoming more common at all levels, from office staff to executives and salespeople.

"The decision to add a full-time employee can seem risky. One thing is certain: You cannot afford to hire the wrong person. Temporary or part-time contract employees can be a great way to offload work, test someone out and grow a valued employee into a more permanent position, with less risk," said Julie Lacouture, co-owner of Mom Corps Los Angeles, a staffing company that specializes in flexible options for working mothers.

Small-business questions? Email Karen at

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