NOLABA Small Business Spotlight: Global Commerce and Services, LLC
NOLABA connects New Orleanians with the support and resources they need to achieve economic prosperity. This includes providing information for small businesses like local resource providers and certification opportunities. In a series of small business spotlights, we’re highlighting New Orleans business owners who use these resources to grow their businesses in the city. Joaneane Smith is the president & CEO of Global Commerce and Services (GCS), an SBA Certified HUBZone and Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business.
Her interest in entrepreneurship while pursuing an MBA at LSU gave Smith her initial spark to be a business owner. After she traveled across the country implementing PeopleSoft for some of the country’s largest corporations and government agencies, she began leading GCS in February 2010. Just four years later, GCS was named to the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies (#219) and Inc. 10 Fastest-Growing African-American-Led Companies (#6). In 2017, Smith won the Women of Color Achievement Award, and she gave a Q&A with NOLABA about her journey:
1) Tell us about the assistance you’ve gotten from local resource providers that helped you get to where you are now as a business owner.
I’ve gotten great assistance throughout the years. I’ve taken courses at Goodwork Network. They assisted in developing my logo, initial website and brochures. I often get additional assistance throughout the years from Goodwork Network. Other resource providers that have assisted me are the Urban League, which provided classes for management, accounting and marketing. SBA has also provided a substantial amount of knowledge they pass on to me. SBA did a great job of assisting me throughout the 8(a) program. I suggest everyone get to know their local SBA office, because they provided me support in business growth.
2) What other resources for small businesses have helped in your growth here?
I am also a Goldman Sachs Small Business Scholar which provided a very in-depth and thorough course of study and assisted in taking my company to the next level. Aside from the resource providers, I suggest that everyone find a mentor in their industry. My mentor has provided me with knowledge that set me aside from my peers by making sure I didn’t make the same mistakes she did.
3) What struggles did you face along your journey, and how small business ecosystem partners helped you overcome?
In the beginning, I had a difficult time in getting on teams with large prime contractors and creating relationships with agencies. I was new in this business and no one wanted to take a chance adding us to their teams. My team of business developers and I continue to meet and network with other contractors and agencies so they can feel comfortable with adding us to teams and awarding contracts. As we win contracts, we make sure we do a great job by meeting and exceeding the expectations on every contract. We use those past performances to win new work. Our differentiators are our accomplishments, awards, capabilities and commitment. We also lost a lot of time during Hurricane Katrina since we spent time concentrating on rebuilding our homes.
4) What future improvements in the small business ecosystem would you like to see to help move your business forward?
There are a lot of contracts moving to LPTA (Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable) instead of Best Value. Often, a company will win a contract without being the best company for the contract. This makes it difficult for the awarded company to find good candidates for the contract since the rates are so low. It would help if the contracts were awarded outside of LPTA.
5) What advice do you have for other small business owners or aspiring business owners?
My advice is to work on winning contracts and creating great relationships with your potential clients before you think about getting 8(a). My main mistake was getting 8(a) certified too soon. Most small companies have the problem of acquiring their 8(a) certification thinking contracts will fall into their laps, which is not the case at all. By the time you figure out what you are supposed to be doing, you could be 5 or 6 years into the 8(a) program with only a few left. Please know that this is a vehicle for only nine years, and you don’t want to waste time.