Marie R. Gill: Supporting Small Businesses in the Past, Present and Future
Marie R. Gill shares how her business started, her advice and insights, and her motivation in supporting small businesses for over 30 years!
Before migrating to the U.S., Marie R. Gill held major positions in the Jamaican government such as being a public relations liaison with then Minister of Industry, Tourism and Foreign Trade, Hon. P.J. Patterson, who later became the country’s longest-serving prime minister.
She also helped build housing for the country’s sugar workers during the ‘70s and ‘80s, advanced tourism through her consulting role with the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association, and was a correspondent with Jamaica’s largest print periodical, The Daily Gleaner Newspaper.
In the U.S., Gill then became a staff of the Minority Business Development Agency for less than ten years before she built M. Gill & Associates, a management and economic development and specialty consulting firm providing initiatives to different institutions, especially minority-owned small businesses.
Since then, M. Gill & Associates have facilitated over $5 billion contracts with their 20 year engagement with the U.S. Department of Commerce – Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and is operating several business development initiatives in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
Above all of these, Gill continuously supports businesses and the community through her roles as a founding president of the Jamaica USA Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Caribbean Businesswomen and as Vice President of the Bi-National Chambers of Commerce.
Looking through Gill’s background, significant contributions, and advocacy for multicultural inclusion for people of all color, it is undeniable that she’s a woman who never compromises her integrity; thus, deserving of being widely-recognized by various institutions.
“I thought in this business, if you’re serving people of color, then you need to be serving people of all color.”
HER INC. 5000 STORY
Gill’s company has been the incumbent of the MBDA but because they have been winning for 15 years, they became complacent and waited too long until the due date… but their computer crashed and they weren’t able to pass the bid on time.
“And those things are important. No matter how good you are, if you miss it, you missed it.”
However, instead of not doing anything, they continue building relationships, doing smaller contracts with several cities, and turning bids early. This then expanded the company as they were able to diversify the clientele.
Months later, M. Gill & Associates bid again for a five-year MBDA contract and they won. This even further opened opportunities for her company to help minority-owned small businesses in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“It’s a good comeback story of how, you know, if you follow your dreams, if you’re really passionate about what you do when you put your mind to it in the face of advert— adversity, you pick yourself up, you brush yourself off, you start all over again, and if you have great people that you have helped, they will come and help you if they see that you are in need. No, I wasn’t want to be asking for help for me but when I needed it, I reached out and people just embraced me and helped me to put me back on my feet and I grew to greater heights as a result.”
AREAS CONTRACTORS NEED HELP
1. Don’t know how to get started.
Gill’s company provides counsel and therapy to small businesses and over the years, questions on how to get started are one of the most asked questions.
These include having no finances, no business plan, no target market, and other advice or grants in building their company in the beginning stages.
2. Have no idea of the purpose of certifications and business programs.
In the contracting arena, it is so important that you understand the purpose and how to use these certifications and business programs to your advantage. Consider that these are established for a reason: for you to have better access to the marketplace.
“What I find, that folks don’t take the time to understand the process. If you understand the process, then you become a better bidder and it’s not just about pricing it’s strategy.”
3. Don’t have a strategic business plan.
As a business owner, you need to have a strategy in place. This is why it is a must that you have a business plan that incorporates all of the things that you want to do in your business, regardless if you’re still new or already a huge corporation.
Most importantly, you should remember that a business plan’s purpose is to help you navigate your goals and not just to get finances from banks and other institutions.
“And you know, if you don’t, if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail. So, all of those things are true and very important for the business owner.”
ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
1. Have the courage.
You will always face a lot of challenges along the way, regardless of your industry, the marketplace, and the size of your business, so you need to always be courageous.
“Some things can be very intimidating, you know, and daunting, but you, if you have it, this is where that passion comes from, you know, if you have it in your gut and if you really know that this is what you want to do, then you have to be fearless.”
2. Never compromise your integrity.
Regardless of how long the walk is, you should not take the shortcut because there are a lot of people who have already slipped and it really ruined their name.
Also, you might not be a bad person but the people you are dealing with might be, so you should always be mindful because it’s really not worth it to lose your integrity.
“Your integrity, once you lose that, then, you know, it’s really, really very difficult to rebuild. And you know, maybe you don’t have enough time to, because people really remember these things, you know. You do something wrong and sometimes you’ll get forgiven and so forth but if it really gets to the heart of your character, then you should guard that. You should guard that. Nothing is worth giving up your integrity or losing your integrity. That’s very important.”
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Recognize that you don’t know everything about your business and that you need someone to run the other parts of it, so it is best to look for the right person and ask for help.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help because you may be skilled at your craft but you may not understand how to really run a business.”
If you want to watch the full video of the interview with Marie R. Gill as she shares how her business started, her advice and insights, and her motivation in supporting small businesses for over 30 years, then be sure to click the links below:
072: Marie Gill – Supporting Small Businesses in the Past, Present and Future
Supporting Small Businesses in the Past, Present and Future