In the first few months of opening a business, you will be required to make the call on many decisions. However, you don't have to do it on your own. You may be responsible for the business, but you can always ask for advice from someone you trust. Having a mentor by your side to guide the decision-making process can make it easier, especially for young business owners. As someone who promotes small businesses, Susan M. Taylor knows it's important to make the right decisions at the beginning.

A mentor is someone who’s traveled the road you are now taking. He/she is someone with lots of experience and is willing to counsel you, mostly for your benefit. As a business owner looking for wise counsel, you can find a mentor in various places.

For starters, the government offers lots of resources to help small businesses. Through the Small Business Administration (SBA), you can get in touch with SCORE Mentors, which is a program that provides free advice and mentoring to small business owners. The program is comprised of volunteers and business leaders willing to provide counsel.

The Veteran’s Business Outreach Center works to provide veterans with the business skills, training and knowledge for them to prosper in their entrepreneurial ventures. Lastly, there are Women’s Business Centers across the country that provide training and mentoring focused on women-run businesses. With more than 100 centers in the nation, WBOC is working to provide more support to women entrepreneurs.

Susan M. Taylor is a longtime advocate for the promotion of small businesses and veteran-owned small businesses. She was an elected officer and board member of the Executive Women in Government group.


Partnerships between organizations are common in the business world as they help organizations accomplish their goals. In many situations, such partnerships are not entered into blindly. Contracts are drawn up to specify the nature of the relationship and the roles that each party is expected to play. While a sound understanding of these roles reduces the likelihood of disputes, they still occur. Susan M. Taylor, an experienced executive in federal government procurement, knows the importance of having formal dispute resolution mechanisms included in the contract language.

When disputes arise, it is important that they are addressed at an early stage to avoid escalation. Issues that are allowed to blow out of proportion can be distracting to a business and prove to be costly. At this point, the contract manager’s role is to ensure a speedy resolution that protects the interests of the business.

Negotiation is often the first method of resolving disputes that parties rely on. Typically, dispute resolution language in a contract provides this as an alternative to finding an understanding. Both parties have to be willing to discuss the issues, either as part of their regular meetings or in separate sittings. The willingness to negotiate might prevent an issue from becoming a formal dispute.

When an informal method such as negotiation does not work, a neutral party with decision-making authority is often sought to help address the issue. This is often the case in mediation and arbitration. The aim of having a neutral party is to find a binding solution that is enforceable without resulting in additional costs and delays.

Susan M. Taylor is an accomplished procurement executive. She has extensive knowledge of contract policy and the operational aspect of contract award and administration.


In the current economic environment, staying in your comfort zone is not the way to achieve growth and efficiency. External and internal pressure will require you to figure ways of being efficient and producing results. As a business owner, you have to be ready to transform rather than try to make things better. Susan M. Taylor, a business executive with years of experience in procurement, knows that adopting good policies in procurement and contracting is a good first step.

Ensuring best practices are adopted in procuring starts by having people with integrity. When doubts start to creep in, the integrity of the process can be undermined. The contracting officer has to be someone who is above reproach and can work to ensure an honest and transparent process is followed.

The procurement process can move along much more quickly if the people involved get started early. Doing so includes identifying and defining requirements, developing a procurement strategy, and drafting the necessary documents before the requisition comes in. Being proactive communicates confidence and the ability to take on any request put before the department.

Contracting officers can't be expected to know everything, which is where regular consultation with peers and other industry professionals comes in handy. The experience and advice of peers help procurement officers make better decisions, especially when they are dealing with unfamiliar situations. Additionally, seeking the advice of specialists such as risk, policy and quality control advisors helps procurement personnel gain qualified recommendations.

Susan M. Taylor is a career Senior Executive Service (SES) with 29 years of experience in the federal government. She’s held numerous positions in her career, including Senior Procurement Executive and Director, Procurement Department at PBGCC, and Director of Contracts for Ginnie Mae.


The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is a popular course in many business schools, as it seeks to prepare students for senior roles in business management. Instructors do this by exposing students to a number of business fields such as marketing, finance, human resources, and accounting. Unlike other post-graduate programs that specialize in a specific field, an MBA draws from various disciplines. As Susan M. Taylor knows, there are benefits to getting an MBA.

Arguably, money is one of the biggest motivating factors for many employees. Well, it’s much more of a motivator for those with an MBA because their average salaries are noticeably higher than employees with regular University degrees. An MBA may be a costly investment, but the monetary returns one can expect will make up for it.

Employees who attain an MBA have a higher chance of attaining a senior management position. In some companies, rising to higher ranks of management is based on the extra level of education someone achieves. Whether you want to get further in your career by moving to a leadership position, or want to get started on a new career path, an MBA will increase the odds of accomplishing your goals.

Chances are your MBA class will be comprised of people from different sectors of the economy, some with years of experience. Such a setting provides many opportunities to network and build solid contacts with individuals who may become potential clients for your business. Taking the course will force you to think outside the box and push you to become a better professional.

Susan M. Taylor is an executive leader in acquisition management with expert knowledge of federal government procurement and contracting policies. She attained an MBA in Management from the New York Institute of Technology.

History of the Department of Veterans Affairs

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, (VA) can trace its roots to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony passed a law stating that all disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony during their war with the Pequot Native Americans. In 1776, the Continental Congress moved to provide pensions to disabled soldiers during the Revolutionary War, creating a system that today is the most comprehensive assistance construct for veterans in the world. The first veterans’ hospital was established in 1811, and later that century, the veterans’ assistance program was expanded to provide benefits and pensions for veterans and their widows and dependents.

After the Civil War, states throughout the Union started establishing veterans’ homes. These homes provided veterans with domiciliary care and incidental medicinal and hospital treatment for all maladies, no matter what origin. Veterans of the Civil War, Indian Wars, Spanish-American War and other conflicts received care at these state homes. The United States Congress voted to expand veterans’ benefits again in 1917, with the country on the brink of joining World War I. These expansions included programs for disability compensation, insurance for veterans and service personnel, and rehabilitation for disabled veterans. Three federal agencies administered different kinds of services to veterans by the 1920s.

Susan M. Taylor retired as the Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Chief Procurement Officer in November 2014. She spent four years at that post, capping 29 years in the Federal Government. She was responsible for working with procurement officers around the country to procure supplies and services for VA hospitals and clinics nationwide. Taylor still lives in the Washington, DC area.

Two things to Focus on When Learning to Play Tennis

Tennis is a great sport to learn because it can be played leisurely and the movement required is very natural, unlike golf for example. Tennis is a very technical sport and taking a few crash course lessons is not a bad idea if you are looking to develop a good foundation for your tennis skills. Here are two things that every beginner tennis player should focus on to see their overall skills improve.

  • It's a good idea to play with someone who is slightly above your level. This will make you a better overall player because you will be able to pick up some pointers by just watching your opponent. Regularly playing with someone who is better than you will see your skills improve at a rapid pace. Like most things in life, when you are presented with a challenge or are working with a more skilled person, you will learn from the experience and are more likely to improve.
  • Serving is the most difficult stroke to master when you first pick up tennis. The easiest way to improve your serving is by slowly learning aspects of the serve. Start out with the half serve, which is when you start with your racket above your body like you are about to swing a hammer. Toss the ball above your head and directly in front of you and swing the racket so that it is directly facing the court. Once you have improved your half serve, try the full serve, which is when both the ball and the racket start in front of your body.

Susan M. Taylor has served as an experienced procurement professional for the federal government. She is also an experienced tennis player and has been playing in leagues for the past 40 years.


Getting Your Dog Ready For a Dog Show

Participating in dog shows is a fun activity for both dogs and owners because it is an opportunity for both to bond together. Showing Dogs, or "conformation" as it is also called, is a popular activity amongst many dog owners, and competitions have received national television attention in the past years. Participating is not a simple task, and it requires lots of training. Here are two things to consider when preparing to partake in a dog show.

  • The first and foremost thing that you need to consider before entering into a dog show is finding out if your dog is eligible to participate. You want to do this before you spend valuable time and money in the training process. The main purpose of dog shows is to judge if your dog is good breeding stock. This means that only purebreds that are six months or older and have not been spayed or neutered can participate. You can prove your dog is purebred by registering with a breed club or through certification paperwork that you received from your dog’s breeder. There are other competitions for mixed breeds and spayed or neutered dogs.
  • Once you have confirmed that your dog is eligible to partake in dog shows, you should attend some shows and get a sense of what goes on and what is expected. This will teach you about what the judges are looking for in contestants and will help you learn about the process of participating in a show.

Susan M. Taylor is an experienced dog trainer and breeder. Her Bearded Collie was the No. 2 nationally ranked female Bearded Collie in 2003 and 2004.

Tips for Training Bearded Collie Puppies

Puppies are bundles of joy, but they can be frustrating to train. Dogs want to learn, want to behave well, and enjoy being trained. You have to put the time and effort into training your dog, and that starts from the day that you bring it home as a puppy. Here are a few tips that will put you well on your way to training your puppy.

•The first item of training that you should focus on is teaching your puppy his or her daily routine. This means that you need to show them where their food and water is, feed them at consistent times of the day, where his or her bed is, where his or her toys are kept, and most importantly where they can go to the bathroom.

•Teach your puppy words by repeating them consistently depending on the situation. For example, tell them “no” when you don’t want them to do something, and tell them “good” when you want to encourage their behavior. Repetition is important because they will learn the difference between the words based on their behavior. Repeating their name often is important as well.

•Using treats is not the best way to train your dog. This teaches them that if they do something well they will get a treat, which, in theory, is a good idea, however if they aren't hungry, chances are they will ignore you. This will teach them that they can decide when to listen to you. Treats are great motivators and should be used as rewards, but they should not be used as often as you may think.

Susan M. Taylor has 29 years of experience in procurement for the federal government. She is an experienced dog trainer and in 2003 and 2004 was the owner of the nationally ranked No. 2 Bearded Collie female.

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