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Myra Cisse, MBAMyra Cisse, MBA

Managing Member

An Interview with Myra Cisse

How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be an 8(a) Certification Specialist?

I worked with business owners of all types, from start-ups to $20MM/year businesses, for the last 6 years of my banking career.  One common thread was that I served as their trusted advisor, not only for their banking needs, but their business needs.  My advice and opinion was sought on business matters of all kinds, especially to those businesses in the start-up and growth phases. But the assistance I could provide was restricted to the company I worked for. I kept a wide network of resources so I could refer my clients to experts when necessary and began to develop a passion for helping business, especially those in the growth stages of their business. 

As I worked through my MBA program, I began to yearn for something more rewarding and fulfilling.  I knew that I wanted to work for myself but couldn’t pinpoint the one thing that I was passionate about that would also provide me with the sense of satisfaction I was so desperately craving from my work.

The idea, literally, came to me out of nowhere. One evening I was sitting on my sofa with a friend - who is the controller in a closely held business - and he mentioned the certification packages to be prepared stacked on his desk.  He wished that he could hand those off to someone to do for him.  That was my epiphany!  I could be that someone!  When I owned another business in 2004, I had successfully completed the minority certification process and had extensively researched the 8(a) process.  So I could certainly do for others what I had successfully done for myself.

That was late 2010.  By February 2011, I had formed the company, had completed the business plan and had entered a local business plan competition where I was one of 5 finalists.  The prize package included a high end Virtual Office package so I had everything I needed to get my business started.

Who are your clients exactly?

My clients are Women, Minority or Veteran business owners running a successful business generally between three and 10 years old. Their business revenues are generally between $250,000 and $15MM per year.  My clients know that their products or services are a perfect fit for the federal marketplace and they have a pretty good idea of which government agencies are buying what they sell.That being said, they have a clear vision and a strategic direction for their company and they’ve decided that the federal marketplace is the next frontier.  My clients are exploring certifications in order to gain an advantage.

What if you’ve not worked with anyone in my field before?

That’s great news!  The more technical and niched your field, the better the likelihood that you’d benefit from the certifications we provide.  Also, I LOVE learning new things.  My first 8(a) client was in a field that I had only limited experience with.  But it worked out great because the basics are the same, my system doesn’t change, just the specifics about the industry, the competition, etc.

How are you different from other 8(a) certification preparation firms?

My 20+ years of banking experience truly sets me apart from others in my field.  I learned a great deal about SBA while originating the Millions of dollars’ worth of SBA loans that I’ve gotten approved for my past clients.  I know how to read business financial statements and can, therefore, talk to a business owner through their financials to help them understand their potential for success - a fundamental qualification that SBA uses for participation in the 8(a) Business Development Program.

Also, I have a passion for helping businesses grow with certifications that can provide the “right” business with a competitive advantage. Just as I gained the trust and respect of my banking clients, I work to do the same for my business clients. I am invested in the process with you and I’ve created systems that I use with my clients for each of the certifications I prepare.

The best part is that I offer packages - from Basic to Fast Track - that work with any budget level. 

What kinds of businesses benefits from certifications?

The federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world.  So just about every business does, makes or sells something that the government wants, uses or buys.   Step one of my system it to Identify and Research your NAICS codes so we can determine who’s buying what you are selling.  That allows me to make a good recommendation to my clients as to the certifications best suited for their business, if they’ve not done the research themselves to find out.

What type of business or client will your services NOT work for?

While I’d love nothing more than to work with everyone who comes to me, the reality is, my system is just NOT a good fit for every business. For this reason, I’m very selective with the people whom I take on as clients, and very gently turn away companies who I feel just won’t get the results from working with me.

My services are NOT for companies who are having serious cash-flow problems, or are in a situation of financial crisis. Why? Expanding your business in the federal marketplace will require resources, so if you are in financial crisis, you cannot even begin to compete. If you fall within this category, you can sign up for my free White paper and CD. You’ll get a lot of great tips from me and we can stay in touch with each other. Once you’re back on track and ready to start the certification process, you’ll have my information handy.

Another type of person I have to say no to, without exception, are those business owners who are unorganized, do not keep records and have not properly laid the foundation for their business. Two reasons:

  • If you fall into the aforementioned categories, then you likely do not have the systems in place within your business to successfully compete in the Federal marketplace,
  • Certifying agencies - the government especially - want what they want, how they want it and the key to success in the certification process is focusing on the details. 

Finally, business owners who do not understand the value of outsourcing; do not appreciate the value of my services; and haggle over price are generally not ideal clients for me. If any of this sounds like you, then I respectfully ask that you do not call me. Ultimately it will not be a good fit and both my time and yours is precious.

What is the 8(a) The Easy Way System™? 

The 8(a) The Easy Way System is a process that I use with all of my clients for whom I prepare an 8(a) certification.  It is a 7 step system that I use to ensure success in the process.  I want to be certain that the clients for whom I provide services get the certifications we apply for so the system ensures that the the client is: 1) qualified (a small business exhibiting social and economic disadvantage) 2) will receive tangible benefits if they use the certification (Agencies are buying what the company sells) and 3) is well positioned to have a strong mentor firm in the program.

What results can I expect and how quickly?

My clients can expect to receive the certifications we apply for.  The time, however, varies widely depending on the agency.

The part of the process that I control, I manage on a project basis, with every certification having a set timeline based on the complexity. I try and control that as much as possible but the client can cause delays if they don’t provide requested information in a timely manner.

Once I send the required documents to the respective certifying agencies, the process is out of my control. The turn-around time depends on the respective agencies and their workflow. The following are a few estimates based on recent client approvals:

  • MBE/WBE - 45 - 90 days
  • V/SDVOSB - 90 days
  • 8(a) - 10 - 12 months

I do respond immediately to deficiencies in the filings so we can get your certifications quickly.

How much is it and do you accept credit cards?

I have packages that fit every budget and every client need and credit cards are always welcome.  Our biggest and best option includes everything a business needs to hit the ground running and be ready to win contracts quickly.  Our customized options, however, allow the budget conscious business owner to tailor no-frills certifications to their needs.   The packages are as follows:

Fast Track Certification & Government Contracting Services

This package was created for the business owner ready to get into the federal marketplace as quickly as possible. This solution will provide you with the 8(a) certification and as many of the other certifications you’d like for your business (from the list below). This package also includes consulting with my partner - a former government contracting officer.  This full service package is perfect for those clients who are serious about learning what it takes to position and market your products and services to federal agencies and getting the marketing materials need to do just that.

Included in this package are:

  • Training for key personnel on how to find opportunities and bid on them
  • Marketing collateral including a Capabilities Statement
  • Review of website to ensure it is Fed ready
  • An in depth review of your business’ systems to ensure DCAA compliance
  • Research to uncover the agencies who buy what you sell
  • Tools to respond to bids from those agencies
  • SAM review and update to ensure proper compliance
  • Update of the SBA profile
  • 8(a) preparation
  • Economic Disadvantage Narrative
  • 1010-C Business Plan completion

Premier Certification Services

The package was created for the business owner who needs certifications and wants to lay the groundwork for competing in the federal marketplace, but isn’t ready to commit to getting a contract right away. This solution will provide you with the 8(a) certification and one additional certification for your business (from the list below). This package also includes consulting services with my partner which will provide you with the basics your business needs to begin to compete in the federal marketplace.

Basic Certification Services

The package was created for the business owner who needs the certification only, no bells and whistles.  Some of my clients have customers who would use them for projects but because they don’t have the right certifications, they can’t.  If this sounds like you then this is your solution.  The package can be customized for whatever your certification needs are.  The fee for this package is totally customized based on the services requested.

  • 8(a) Business Development Program

  • Service-Disabled or Veteran Owned Small Business (SD/VOSB)

  • Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)

  • Women Business Enterprise (WBE)

  • Woman-owned Small Business (WOSB)

Since every business is different, call us or complete the contact us section and we’ll be in touch with a proposal that includes the project scope, pricing and payment structure.

I know the program I want, how do we get started?

To get started, complete the form in the Contact Us section with the package you want and someone will be in touch with you to confirm your needs and prepare a detailed proposal.

If I’m not quite ready to make the investment, how can I try you out?

If you can’t make the investment, you can request a copy of our FREE Do-it-Yourself Guide to 8(a) entitled: 8(a) The Easy Way; 8 Steps to a Smooth 8(a) Process by completing the boxes at the top of this page.  The guide includes a CD and a White Paper with source links to various sites you’ll need to reference if you wish to tackle the project on your own.  I really think you’ll find it helpful.  You can always reach out to us if you get overwhelmed with the process or decide you time is more valuably spent in your business.

I am ready to do this for my business but I have more questions, can I call you?

Absolutely!  I can be reached at 1-866-936-2135 or in the Metro Atlanta area at 678-974-1670.  I’d be more than happy to answer your questions.  Thanks

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