Business Rumors Debunked: “All I Have To Do Is Register With The Government And I Will Get Contracts”

For some business owners, contracts with federal and local governments are the backbone of their annual revenue. Oftentimes, securing one contract with a government agency opens doors with other departments providing a steady stream of opportunities for your business.

While there’s a constant need for small business services in government, we found that a lot of entrepreneurs think getting in with the government is as easy as registering in the agency database. To learn more about what is *really* required to get a government contract, we turned to our friends at Charlotte Business INClusion, an organization committed to enhancing competition and participation of small, minority and women-owned firms in City contracting.

“It takes more than just registration to get contracts,” said Sam Montanez, Program Specialist for Charlotte Business INClusion. “You should attend project pre-bid meetings, attend networking and capacity building events, and most importantly build relationships with the City Procurement staff making buying decisions.”

Just like when securing private contracts, building relationships with decision-makers is critical to getting your business noticed in the vendor lineup. If you’re not sure how to get connected to the right people, start by browsing the Find a City Vendor tool on the Charlotte Business INClusion website for organizations you know – they may be able to help you make a connection. Spoiler, you can also see what other businesses like yours are registered for and potentially compete against you for certain contracts.

It’s also important to be sure that you have the proper certifications for your business in order to be eligible. For example, most trade services like plumbing or electric require an industry-issued license. If eligible, you should also become a certified Minority Women Small Business Enterprise (MWSBE) and pay close attention to the City’s goal-setting process for MWSBE participation.

Don’t worry, Charlotte Business INClusion can help you navigate the certification process. They offer several continuing education and professional association scholarship programs to help certified small businesses prepare for government projects bids. You can contact them at 704-336-4137 or by visiting them online at

To see all available opportunities, visit the State of North Carolina Interactive Purchasing System as well as the City of Charlotte Contracting Opportunities webpage. When you’re ready, you can register your business with the City of Charlotte by clicking here. If you have questions about certifications or the bidding process with the City of Charlotte, contact Charlotte Business INClusion, or tweet us @CBRbiz!


CLT Tech Co-founder: “Invest in Biz Dev, Staff, Leadership”

Technology is all about possibility and how it can empower its users to move forward. It is the mission of IT-HenHouse to do just that. They identify the real issues holding your business back and transform it to host fresh, new ideas with the foundation of solid expertise.

When you reach out to IT-HenHouse, Ann C. Fields will likely be your first point of contact. A key player in each ERP solution, Ann co-founded and IT-Henhouse with her husband Kenneth to bring people-powered tech solutions to propel businesses forward. 

IT-HenHouse works with all businesses regardless of size to help empower them to move forward with technology. We talked more with Ann about the different resources that she utilized when starting the business and what she recommends to future entrepreneurs.  

CBR: What resources did you find helpful when you started your business?

IT-HenHouse: We have taken advantage of many of the resources that are available to small businesses. It would be easier to list the resources that we have not utilized in some capacity, but some of the ones that have been extremely helpful for us are the SBTDC, Charlotte Business Inclusion, Carolina Small Business Development Fund and the Small Business Center to name a few.  Recently, we have participated in events or received support from the Latin America Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and Black Chamber of Commerce.

CBR: What challenges do you help businesses with?


  • Growing businesses by eliminating redundancies and manual processes.
  • Guiding organizations into the digital age using cloud and artificial intelligence.
  • Improving the customer experience.
  • Earning clear visibility within their supply chain.
  • Effectively managing your talent resources.
  • Using innovative ideas and technology to disrupt their industry.

CBR: How diverse are your clients? Are they typically part of a certain industry or business stage?

IT-HenHouse: Our clients are diverse because our solutions are diverse. We service small to large businesses and we have an affinity for entrepreneurs.

CBR: If you had one piece of advice for someone who needed to take on a big technology project, what would it be?

IT-HenHouse: Preparation! You must be intentional about identifying, understanding and addressing both the organizational and individual impact of taking on a new technology project.

CBR: What activities would you recommend to entrepreneurs to invest their time in?

IT-HenHouse: Connecting with resources that allow you to develop your business, hire qualified staffing and foster leadership skills.

CBR: Anything else?

IT-HenHouse: Be clear on where you want your company to go. Establish realistic objectives and goals. Monitor your objectives and goals and redirect whenever necessary. Be open to criticisms, as well as praise. Be open to your customers’ needs, be honest as to whether you can help them – integrity. Have a familiarization with all aspects of your business.

Thank you, Ann!

IT-Henhouse will be hosting a free Small Business Showcase on 10/25 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame where small business owners are invited for lunch and networking. During the showcase, attendees will discuss real issues and learn how people-powered tech may resolve them.  To RSVP, click here.

To learn more about IT-HenHouse and everything that they offer, be sure to visit them online at their Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter accounts. If you have a question or comment, tweet us at @CBRbiz.

Meet the Partner: Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce


We’re very excited to welcome the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC) as a partner in our resource network! Launched in 1992, the CLGBTCC has established a network of business contacts and friendships to encourage and support businesses who promote positive role models within Charlotte’s Lesbian and Gay community. The organization provides its members with many networking and educational opportunities for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender business community.

We had the chance to talk with Chad Turner, President of the CLGBTCC to learn more about the chamber, and the resources it provides to its members and the LGBT community!

CBR: How did the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce begin and why was it first established?

Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce (CLGBTCC): The Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce began in 1992 as the Charlotte Business Guild. The purpose was to create a “safe” networking environment for LGBT business owners and professionals without calling attention to the fact that they were LGBT. Four years ago, the Chamber made the decision to nix the name Charlotte Business Guild and fully “come out of the closet” because the board felt that it was good for business!

CBR: What would you like small business owners to know about the services that you provide?

CLGBTCC: We do provide traditional chamber services such as networking, training, and exposure to the community. In addition, we are one of two organizations within the state that oversees the LGBT Business Enterprise Certification process through our national chamber, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC. Further, we promote equity within the workplace and marketplace through educational and training opportunities as well as advancing public policy and advocacy.

CBR: What are the biggest hurdles for entrepreneurs of the LGBT community who want to start a business in Charlotte? How are you helping them overcome those obstacles?

CLGBTCC: Currently, LGBT business owners are not recognized by the City or County as a Minority Business Enterprise. While we can compete in most corporate arena’s for contracting as an LGBTBE, we can not on governmental levels. The challenge is to get our businesses recognized and educating our leaders and community on the buying power of the LGBT community not only as consumers but as business owners as well.

CBR: What have been some of the greatest achievements of the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce?

CLGBTCC: We were recognized as the Human Rights Campaign’s Organization of the Year for our immense growth and community efforts through education and philanthropy. In addition, local leaders have consistently given recognition for our programs in and around equity, diversity, and inclusion.

CBR: How can people get involved with the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce?

CLGBTCC: At the very least, become a business or professional member and experience the benefits that we provide. We also have committees that focus on membership, development, policy and advocacy, events and programs etc. In addition, each year we do hold elections for board members and welcome those in membership to assist us in leading this great organization!

CBR: Do you offer any networking or educational opportunities to members? What other benefits are available through becoming a member?

CLGBTCC: On the second Wednesday of each month we offer breakfast at a Morning Mixer. This year it is sponsored by Amelies in NODA from 8am-9am. Every fourth Tuesday we meet for our monthly event that is topic based but includes drinks, hors-d’oeuvres and networking opportunities with our corporate partners and leaders. In addition, we offer workshops in entrepreneurship, supplier diversity, diversity and inclusion, funding and grants, branding and marketing, business plan writing, resume building, social media and much more! We also present along with Wells Fargo, our Pride in Business EXPO each year to showcase our LGBT owned businesses and businesses and organizations that support equality for all!

CBR: What types of other businesses and groups do you work closely with?

CLGBTCC: We work closely with other minority chambers such as the Latin, Black and Asian Chambers here in Charlotte. We are an official affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber and Diversity Council Member of the Charlotte Chamber. Our strategic partnerships include Charlotte Business Resources, Charlotte Business INClusion, CRVA, Small Business Administration and the City of Charlotte.

For more information about the Charlotte LGBT Chamber of Commerce, visit their partner profile, or You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Wake Forest CPB and CBR Partners Give Free Tickets to Charlotte Entrepreneurs

CBR resource partner, the Center for Private Business at Wake Forest University is teaming up with the CBR network to provide partner-nominated businesses with free tickets to some very exclusive fall events.

The events include their Legacy Luncheon with Marcus Smith, President & CEO for Speedway Motorsports, Inc and Cyber Threats: Protecting Your Business, Your Assets, and Your Reputation at Quail Hollow Country Club. During the luncheon, guests will learn about succession planning and creating a company culture while getting must-know leadership advice from one of Charlotte’s highest-regarded CEOs. The Cyber Threats event is a moderated panel discussion where expert small business peers talk about how they tackle cyber risks and create strategic plans to protect their business from digital threats.

The Center for Private Business at Wake Forest University is a membership organization that enables privately-owned businesses by granting them access to industry leaders, resources, networks, and education. To learn more about the Center for Private Business at Wake Forest University and how they can help your small business, visit their partner profile.

5 Ways to Celebrate Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday: a holiday promoting small businesses, raising awareness for the #shopsmall movement; occurs the Saturday after Thanksgiving

Small Business Saturday 2018 is on November 24th. If this is your first time hearing about Small Business Saturday, or if it’s just completely sneaking up on you, don’t panic. There’s still plenty of time to participate and plan an initiative that will allow your business to celebrate the holiday!

Whether this is last minute planning, or you’re searching for ideas of what else you can do, here are a few ways all business owners like you can celebrate Small Business Saturday.

5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Celebrate Small Business Saturday


#1: Run a promotion.

Small Business Saturday falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so, you guessed it, customers will be looking for specials and deals. Run a Small Business Saturday promotion, and give everyone yet another reason to love your business!

#2: Email your database.

Do you have an email list? Send a newsletter, or e-blast, encouraging your customers to come out and support small businesses like yours on Small Business Saturday. If you aren’t running an in-store promotion, you could offer a special coupon to your newsletter subscribers and recipients.

#3: Get social!

If your business frequently engages with customers on social media, get the word out via posts and tweets about your participation in Small Business Saturday. Another clever way of garnering engagement and increasing awareness is to make your social media post the coupon itself: “Show this post to receive ___.”

Remember, the hashtag on Twitter is #shopsmallclt! We will also be using #smallbizsat. 

#4: Start talking about it now.

As customers checkout and leave your store now, remind them to visit you on Small Business Saturday, and tell them of any promotions you might be running.

#5: Partner with a fellow business owner.

Small Business Saturday is all about people coming out to support the small business community, and what better way for small business owners to support it than by celebrating together? Cross-promotions are a great way to bring in business, while also encouraging everyone to #shopsmallclt.


Tell us how you’re celebrating Small Business Saturday by including @cbrbiz in your tweets!


How Charlotte, N.C., is Expanding Opportunities for Minority Businesses

The following blog post by the City of Charlotte, N.C., a current City Accelerator participant, is part of the City Accelerator initiative, a collaboration between the Citi Foundation and Living Cities that aims to speed the adoption of innovative local government projects within and across cities that will have a significant impact on the lives of their residents, especially those with low incomes.


Over the past 15 months, the city of Charlotte has taken a number of vital steps to support Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) in our community, helping them build capacity, identifying new opportunities and partnerships, and advocating for better inclusion of those businesses in city contracting. As part of the City Accelerator program, we have focused on improved training, real-time access to opportunities, and the use of new digital tools.

First and foremost, we launched the AMP UP Charlotte program, a 13-week training program that prepares minority business owners for growth and expansion through development services, mentoring, targeted training, and access to large corporations for contract and procurement opportunities. With 20 participants in the first cohort, AMP UP (which stands for “Accelerate, Motivate, Propel”) provides small business owners a unique opportunity to complete the award-winning and internationally-recognized StreetWise MBA curriculum, developed by Interise. In addition to training on financial management and analysis, human resources and accessing capital, the program helps participants build out their professional network.

“Owning a small business can be extremely isolating. AMP UP has allowed me to develop new relationships with other small business owners,” says Dee Dixon, the CEO of Charlotte-based Pride Communications and a participant in the program. “It’s quite empowering to know that many of us have the same challenges and the AMP UP class gives us an opportunity to learn from each other.”

The first cohort began in May, and those participants will graduate in December. A second class will begin in 2019.

In the next two years, Charlotte will find itself in the national spotlight, as it plays host to the National Basketball Association All-Star Game in 2019 and the Republican National Convention in 2020. Those two major events bring a host of contracting opportunities, and the city hopes to help minority-owned businesses capitalize on those. While Charlotte can’t guarantee local business owners will get contracts with the NBA or the RNC, those and other major events can serve as a catalyst in our efforts to support and develop minority-owned businesses.

“The NBA All-Star Game will provide an economic boost for the city of Charlotte, and it is important that all businesses have a chance to share in the benefits,” says Mayor Vi Lyles. “Having the AMP UP program to maximize the participation of minority-owned companies is an invaluable asset and I’m excited to see those businesses continue to thrive, long after the NBA All-Star Game.”

Charlotte’s efforts haven’t just been aimed at helping minority-owned businesses build capacity: We’ve also focused on improving our purchasing opportunities with the city itself.

In fall 2017 the city formed a Procurement Advisory and Inclusion Council, comprising department leaders throughout city government, to help ensure our policies and procedures adequately reflect the needs of minority-owned businesses. The group will also implement new strategies concerning MBE mentoring programs.

In addition, the city will use findings from a disparity study completed in November 2017 to make recommendations regarding Charlotte’s compliance and diversity practices and policies. That study found a substantial disparity in city spending with minority- and women-owned businesses. The Accelerator Team has identified several new efforts, such as the establishment of a sheltered market program, as well as additional anchor institution efforts, that can result in real dollars being driven to Charlotte’s minority business base. The disparity study’s findings further solidified the need to identify operational contracting opportunities throughout the city with particular emphasis on turning to MBEs to fill these gaps.

We’re also implementing some key technology improvements, making it easier for all businesses to have a better sense of upcoming opportunities with the city. We’re creating a digital enterprise-wide forecasting pipeline that will show all our procurement needs and associated opportunities. Through a cloud-based app, businesses will be able to search for opportunities, receive alerts about new listings or changes in scheduling, create joint venture opportunities, and keep abreast of city needs through a number of texting and social media options, as well as live-chat communications.

Win FREE Tickets to the Entrepreneur City Live Conference

Have you been looking for a way to boost your bottom line, enhance your marketing skills, or even just network with professionals who can help steer your business in the right direction? You’ve found it! The Entrepreneur City Live conference is coming to Charlotte and will be packed with notable guest speakers, entrepreneurial experts, and financial freedom finders to help you with your business.

The conference kicks off on Thursday, November 1st and runs through Friday, November 2nd for general admission holders. The schedule is packed with opportunities to learn useful strategies and tactics for building a strong business foundation. If you are looking for a more enhanced learning experience, VIP day on November 3rd offers special guest speakers, in-depth training workshops, and access to an exclusive Facebook group for an entire year! This Facebook group will provide you with special training opportunities from Danielle and Eric Clark, weekly accountability checks, special guest speaker events, and discounted products from Entrepreneur City Live affiliates and partners. All three days of the conference are from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Marriott City Center Charlotte.

Along with awesome keynote speakers (check out who they are here), CBR is giving away 5 *FREE* general admission tickets (valued at $597 each) and 5 *FREE* VIP tickets (valued at $1,097 each)!

To qualify, for the tickets you must:

  • Have an established business and be in business for at least 1 year
  • Have at least $100,000 in sales
  • Be able to attend the 2 days for general admission and 3 days total for VIP admission

Congratulations to our Entrepreneur City Live Contest winners!

Don Nelson – SeeSnapGet
Domonique Boone – Leslie’s Laundry Care
Nicole Glasper – Pro Transport LLC
Nakisa Glover – Nakisa “Sista Sol” Glover
Eric Haskin – Charlotte Media Partners
Aaron Petrosky – Rapid Ops
Dan Truong – FlashMap

Win Free Tickets to the Small Business Xchange

The Small Business Xchange is a one-day event that provides a hands-on, immersive experience designed to increase the impact that small businesses have on our community. Presented by Charlotte Business Journal, Progressive Commercial, and Wells Fargo, this experience showcases business professionals and entrepreneurs who are making moves in the small business world and are ready to share their expertise.

The Small Business Xchange will be held on October 30th from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Charlotte Convention Center, and will include networking events, informational sessions, and an integrated social media component. Charlotte will be the first of three cities to experience the Small Business Xchange with 100 exhibiting companies including most of our own partners!

In addition to this expo, CBR is giving away 25 free passes to the event to learn more about our partners and other small businesses that are participating. All you have to do is sign up for the CBR newsletter and you will be entered in for a chance to win!

Dualboot Partners, Building and Transforming Businesses One Day at a Time

Creating unique technology solutions for businesses requires a passion for innovation and a knack for understanding your customers. It also takes many years of experience, a combined 40+ to be exact. Who are we talking about? Dualboot Partners and its Principal, Daniel DelaCruz.

After graduating with his Masters from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Daniel began his career focusing on asset management, banking, and capital markets where he gained valuable experience in creating efficient business processes.

Before he co-founded Dualboot Partners, Daniel was the VP of Finance and Operations of a digital marketing agency. It was there where he learned the services business model. He, along with his partners Todd Buelow and Ben Gilman, realized they were uniquely positioned to create a team of top tech talent, and Dualboot was formed.

Dualboot works with small to mid-sized businesses to build custom technology to help improve efficiency and drive their business forward. We talked more with Daniel about his decision to start his own company and the advice that has guided his success. Why did you choose to start a company like Dualboot?

Daniel DelaCruz: Across the board, the labor market is incredibly tight. When it comes to staffing software/technical jobs, the challenge of attracting and retaining talent is exponential. This challenge is further amplified by the fact that to build proper software, companies need many fractional skill sets (e.g., CTO, product managers, UI/UX, design, frontend, backend, QA, mobile, etc.) Even large enterprises with dedicated recruiters are having a tough time.

Combined, my business partners and I have been in the technology and client services space for 40+ years. We knew the services business model extremely well and felt we had strong networks in place with top technical talent and businesses. The result has been a great and natural partnership with our clients; we have been able to add tremendous value very quickly for our clients. Who are your particular clients? Are they in a specific business stage or have a certain type of product?

Daniel DelaCruz: We work with enterprise clients and startups alike. Companies of all shapes and sizes are digitizing and undergoing massive software transformations. We can help with any and all stages of the software development process – from developing a strategy for a new idea all the way through iterating on complex enterprise platforms. What advice would you give to a business that wants to launch software or a digital product?

Daniel DelaCruz: #1 Market size and growth. #2 Market size and growth. #3 Market size and growth. Great products fail all the time because they fail to solve a problem people care about (e.g., there is no market). Bad products can be very successful (despite themselves) if they are in the right market. What was the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received and who was it from?

Daniel DelaCruz: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – Mark Twain


Thank you, Daniel! To learn more about Dualboot Partners and all they have to offer, be sure to visit them online at If you have a question or comment, tweet us at @CBRbiz.

Business Rumors, Debunked: “There aren’t many opportunities to train the next generation”

Giving back to the community and to our future workforce is not as difficult as it may seem. Many businesses offer internships, but they are typically only available to college students, leaving out ambitious high school students. Having a high school intern can benefit your small business in many ways, and it is just as beneficial for the students who want to explore career fields and learn more before heading off to college.

To gain insight into internship opportunities and how your business can help, we reached out to one of our Resource Partners, the City of Charlotte, to learn about the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program. The City seeks to build partnerships with employers within the community who are able to enrich and expose high school students to career experiences to better equip them for the future.

CBR: What is the overall purpose of the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program?

Mayor’s Youth Employment Program (MYEP): Since the Economic Mobility study was completed, the community and all stakeholders have been intentional about preparing our future workforce. We are collaborating to provide soft skills training, partnering on the state level with NC Works, local levels through the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program (MYEP)Job and Career Readiness TrainingGoodwill Industries, local programs through MeckEd and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. In-school counselors and teachers are reinforcing what students are learning through these individual and collaborative efforts. In addition, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) is partnering with community stakeholders to also provide training for youth with the most barriers.

CBR: What kind of career experiences do you provide for students to develop their career goals?

MYEP: MYEP provides students with job shadowing, access to subject-matter experts (SMEs) and industry professionals who share their expertise as well as their academic and career trajectories, along with how they got there. Students also have access to work-based learning opportunities through internships, pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship, and jobs.

CBR: How do Career Development Coordinators refer students from their schools?

MYEP: It’s possible that the Career Development Coordinators (CDCs) receive information from workforce development partners about opportunities for students to engage in workforce development activities. CDCs monitor students that have expressed interest, that are mature and display an overall preparedness to take advantage of these opportunities. Such considerations are given to students that attend training events, make eye contact, have firm handshakes, and complete and score well on prescribed interview rubrics. CDC’s help prepare students for the interview, review knowledge about MYEP and make sure students can articulate why being a MYEP participant could impact their career goals. There are over 500 opportunities and students must meet program requirements to become qualified applicants through successfully completing drug and background screenings, participating in interviews, and provide letters of recommendations, which oftentimes comes from the CDC or CTE or Counseling staff at the schools.

CBR: If a student wants to participate in the program, what should they do to prepare? What about businesses if they want to become a host employer?

MYEP: For students, they should have a good idea of what it is they want to explore in terms of a career. They should access their current skill set, have an understanding of what they enjoy, and learn about all of the opportunities available through internships, career exploration, job shadowing, etc. and determine which one is a first step for them to be exposed to for career options. They also need to determine if they have the time commitment required to participate in the program.

For host employers, they need to evaluate whether they can commit the time to give to an intern. Develop a work plan that defines the job, tasks and roles of an intern. Coaching interns on time management, attendance, communication skills, email etiquette, etc. Employers should have a clear understanding about why they are participating, whether it is to meet their corporate social responsibility commitments or if it is to develop a talent pipeline for future workforce candidates. Interested employers should contact an MYEP staff member, complete an application and have a contact person within their organization that will serve as the point of contact.

CBR: What are some of the companies that you partner with to set interns up for success in the future?

MYEP: MYEP partners include Charlotte WorksMeckEdCareer and Job Readiness training partnersCharlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and local foundations that are willing to support the program financially. Through our partnership with Goodwill Industries, we have a voucher program to help with clothing assistance and through the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) we are able to provide a discount for bus passes, and transportation for youth to engage in work at Carowinds.

CBR: What is Charlotte Career Discovery Day and how can a new business become involved?

MYEP: Charlotte Career Discovery Day (CCDD) is a one-day career exploration event that exposes students to industry Fortune 500 companies, as well as college and career opportunities. For more information, contact an MYEP staff member at

CBR: Why should students attend CCDD?

MYEP: Students should attend CCDD to get hands-on experience! Especially to learn what it’s like to work in a particular job, industry, or organization. Along with having face time to speak with industry experts; companies they would not otherwise have access too. Lastly, to meet with representatives from colleges and universities who are willing and share more information about post-secondary opportunities and waive applications fees. Students are able to speak with businesses about employment openings and to learn more about career opportunities within various career paths.

CBR: Is there a deadline to sign up for the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program?

MYEP: Yes. Students must see their CDC at the start of the school year to register for one of the Job and Career Readiness Training sessions and apply for MYEP by the end of November. If anyone is interested and does not attend a CMS school, call 704-336-5577 for more information.

Now that we have given you the insider tips and tricks on how to participate in MYEP, we hope you take advantage of this great opportunity whether you are a student or a small business!

If you have any other questions about MYEP, feel free to tweet us at @CBRbiz