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Why Minority-Owned Businesses Should Consider Government Contracting Opportunities Sooner Rather Than Later

A look into the opportunities available for minority-owned businesses to engage with state and local governments.

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5, 2021

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There has never been a better time in recent history for minority-owned businesses to seek government contracting opportunities than now. To put this into its proper context, we must first understand that federal, state and local governments have laws and provisions in place that requires agencies and departments to allocate a portion of their budgets to minority-owned businesses.But what defines a minority-owned business? According to the Small Business Administration, a minority-owned business is classified as a business that is owned by individuals that are a part of a “disadvantaged community”.Laws and provisions to provide better access to opportunities for minority-owned businesses have been on the books for decades. However, in practice, the access to opportunities were not always as readily available or apparent as they might seem, especially when it came to government contracting. High-cost barriers to entry (ex. hiring the right consultants and legal advisors to assist the business) made it difficult for most minority businesses to gain access to opportunities due to the lack of adequate capital resources available to them and the difficulty they have had in securing credit facilities from financial institutions at market rates.Thankfully, the sociological dynamics has shifted dramatically since the times that these laws, policies and provisions were initially brought to fruition. In today’s climate, governments from the federal level to the local level are more interested and motivated than ever to assist minority-owned businesses in successfully gaining access to contracting opportunities with them. Large, institutional shareholders across the board have been demanding better, more robust, actionable Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) methodologies that produce tangible results. Companies who did not take these demands seriously paid the price by way of their share prices plummeting in the wake of large shareholder divestitures.The demonstration of large shareholders to exit companies that were not implementing strong DEI methodologies forced companies to take notice, pivot and adapt to the change in investor sentiment. Not only do shareholders require the company to have a strong DEI methodology in place, but they require that the company hold its supply chain, major business association and affiliations to the same standards. In order for politicians to continue to enjoy the generous contributions of corporations, they had to develop even more robust programs and initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure that not only were the opportunities available, but that access was attainable for the average minority business.Related: 3 Ways to Support Minority-Owned BusinessesColorado: an exampleA great example of how governments have rolled out the red carpet for minority businesses in the contracting space is Colorado. I spoke extensively with Wael Khalifa, who is currently a special aide to the mayor of Denver. In his capacities within the government of Colorado, he has worked extensively on Colorado’s DEI framework and implementation.Wael shared with me that Colorado’s Minority Business Office (MBO) provides free one-on-one consulting services as well as an online learning platform to help minority business owners understand and attain the different types of certifications available to them. For minority contractors, the office even educates them on the process of selecting, writing and submitting bid proposals to the state. The MBO also has an advisory council which is designed to provide a forum for which the perspectives of minority business owners can be brought to the attention of the state. In addition, the MBO also maintains a comprehensive database of all minority businesses that are certified as such with the state.Related: The Government Wants You to Become an EntrepreneurThe state of Colorado also hosts the Advance Colorado Procurement Expo, which is a day-long event designed for businesses to showcase their products and services to state and local governments, attend workshops and network. Finally, in 2020, the state legislature passed SB20B-001 – COVID-19 Relief Small And Minority Businesses Arts Organizations in which the Colorado legislature allocated an additional $4 million to the MBO to provide direct relief payments, grants, loans, technical assistance and consulting support to minority-owned business.Colorado is just one example of how states are strongly encouraging engagement with minority-owned businesses through legislation, regulation, guidance and funding to provide measurable access to opportunity at an unprecedented level as a part of their deepening DEI initiatives. Because many states are currently doing similar things to support minority businesses, the possibilities and opportunities for minority-owned businesses are limitless.Related: These City Programs Are Giving Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses Access to Capital

3 Oil Services Stocks to Buy Now

If you are interested in one of the best ways to play this trend, check out our list of 3 oil services stocks to buy now

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5, 2021

4 min read

This story originally appeared on MarketBeat

The oil and gas industry has been dealing with monumental challenges since the onset of the pandemic. As global energy demand saw unprecedented declines and the clean energy narrative picked up steam, many investors headed for the exit doors in some of the historically best-performing oil stocks. With that said, it seems as though the rumors of the oil industry’s demise have been overstated for now, as oil prices have rebounded sharply in 2021. Brent topped $72 a barrel for the first time since 2019 on Friday, which is a great sign for companies involved in providing the equipment and technology needed in the oil & gas industry worldwide. While many of these companies still face long-term challenges, there’s a good chance that the rally in oil prices has room to run in the coming months as the world continues to reopen. If you are interested in one of the best ways to play this trend, check out our list of 3 oil services stocks to buy now below. Schlumberger NV (NYSE:SLB) This is a global provider of oilfield services to the energy industry that recently delivered positive news after the company’s announcement that its 2021 estimated revenues would top $22.5 billion, which is above the consensus analyst estimate. As a major provider of the technology needed for reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and processing to the oil and gas industry, Schlumberger plays a key role in supplying the products needed to keep end-to-end upstream operations running at full steam. It’s also worth noting that the company has a strong international business that has quickly stabilized, which could lead to a nice rebound in earnings for the rest of the year. To quote CEO Olivier Le Peuch, “With oil demand projected to reach pre-2019 levels by the end of 2022 and supply tightening, our oil and gas business is on the verge of an exceptional growth cycle,”. This is exactly the type of statement that investors should be excited about, and the fact that Schlumberger reported operating results that were much better than expected in Q1 could be a sign of good things to come. Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL) Next, we have Halliburton, the world’s second-largest oilfield services company and a great option for investors that are interested in stocks that should benefit from rising oil and gas prices. Halliburton operates in two segments, the completion and production segment and the drilling and evaluation segment. This company helps oil and gas companies around the world with locating new drill sites, wellbore engineering, and optimizing well construction activities. As the demand for oil continues to improve, oil and gas companies will be more willing to increase their spending, which plays exactly into Halliburton’s favor. The company reported a sequential revenue increase of 7% in Q1, which is certainly a step in the right direction. It’s also worth noting that the company’s operating margins are still above pre-pandemic levels, which is a testament to how skillfully the company navigated one of the more challenging times for the industry in recent memory. The bottom line here is that Halliburton is one of the premier oil services stocks to buy now given its operating efficiency and the potential for a rebound in the North American oil industry. Baker Hughes Co (NYSE:BKR) If you are interested in an oil services company that has growth opportunities outside of traditional oil drilling, Baker Hughes is a strong pick. With exposure to hydrogen, liquefied natural gas, carbon capture, and more, which are all growing areas that have huge addressable markets, Baker Hughes has a longer-term energy transition strategy that could pay off in a big way. The company also provides oilfield products, services, and digital solutions to oil & gas companies around the world and was formed from the merger of Baker Hughes Inc. and GE’s oil and gas business back in 2017. Income investors should be attracted to this stock thanks to its 2.78% dividend yield, which is the highest dividend yield out of the oil services stocks mentioned in this article. It’s also worth mentioning that since Baker Hughes has access to GE Digital, it might be able to leverage Big Data and the Internet of Things to benefit the oil and gas industry. The stock has rallied 15% in the past month and could be in for more upside as long as oil and gas prices are rising.Featured Article: What economic reports are most valuable to investors?

5 Affordable Franchises You Can Start for Less Than $10,000

26, 2019

2 min read

Everyone says that starting a business is expensive and risky, but it doesn’t have to be. One approach, which some consider safer, is owning a franchise. It has a proven business model, a built-in brand and corporate support. And not every franchise will cost you millions. In fact, you can start some franchises for less than five figures — and not just random, bargain-bin franchises. These companies made it onto Entrepreneur’s 2019 Franchise 500 list. 

Check out this list of five franchises you can start in your area for less than $10,000.

Dream Vacations

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 101

Initial investment: $3,245 to $21,850

New units in 2019: 212 units (+18.9 percent)

Based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Dream Vacations deals in travel packages such as hotels, tours, travel protection and more. The company was founded in 1991 and started franchising the following year. 

Related: Here Are 5 Restaurant Franchises Perfect for the Beach Season

Buildingstars International

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 199

Initial investment: $2,245 to $53,200

New units in 2019: 148 units (+20.1 percent)

Buildingstars, a commercial cleaning company founded in 1994, is headquartered in St. Louis. The company began franchising in 2000 and now has regional offices in Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, New York and more. Services include carpet and floor care, as well as green cleaning and consulting.

Cruise Planners

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 60

Initial investment: $2,295 to $23,367

New units in 2019: 6 units (+0.2 percent)

Cruise Planners is a network of remote travel agents who sell packages such as cruises, travel insurance, car rentals and more. The company is based in Coral Springs, Fla., and it offers in-house financing to cover the franchise fee. 

Related: 5 Low-Cost Franchises You Can Start for as Little as $4,000

Town Money Saver

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 490

Initial investment: $5,700 to $17,000

New units in 2019: 3 units (+6.1 percent)

Town Money Saver is a monthly direct-mail advertising flyer distributed to homes and businesses. The company was founded in 1992 and began franchising in 2005.

Jazzercise Inc.

Entrepreneur Franchise 500 Rank: 94

Initial investment: $2,405 to $17,155

New units in 2019: -147 units (-1.6 percent)

Founded in 1969 and franchising since 1982, Jazzercise Inc. pairs dance moves with aerobic exercise in its trademark total-body conditioning program. The company is based in Carlsbad, Calif., but franchises exist in more than 31 countries. 

Related: 5 Tech Franchises You Can Start Now for as Little as $25,000