Updated: Sep 12
The Community Fund of North Miami Dade (CFNMD) offers access to capital to minority-owned businesses in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties, so they have the funds needed to grow sustainably. One such example is Altrian,a remarkable and resilient company owned by Mrs. Harriet Stricklen, a Black Woman entrepreneur.
Altrian is a versatile company offering talent recruitment, staff contracting, human resources, accountancy, and compliance consultancy services. Their clients include counties, school districts, state entities, and private companies, many of which employ over 500 people. Harriet founded Altrian in California in 2000, where she got her first real big break, a multi-million-dollar contract with the Department of Corrections, and later expanded to Florida in 2003 after securing significant contracts with Broward and Miami-Dade Counties for staff contracting.
Throughout its journey, Altrian has navigated various economic challenges, and Harriet's adaptability has kept the company relevant and profitable. Early on, she certified Altrian as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) through the Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council. This certification opened doors for the company to work with prominent organizations such as the NFL and even participate in business missions to England.
Over the years, Altrian has evolved its services to meet market demands. In response to economic changes from the 2008 crisis, they shifted focus from staff contracting to providing human resources, accountancy, and compliance consulting services that required lower overhead costs from the company. In 2020, realizing the need for talent hiring, the company ventured into supplying healthcare staff and secured staffing contracts with Miami-Dade County. Additionally, Altrian diversified its offerings to serve the construction industry, providing compliance, accountancy consulting, and other administrative services for government projects.
Harriet's ability to scan the business environment and adapt accordingly has been crucial to Altrian's growth. In the face of evolving market conditions, she is currently focused on modernizing the company's operations, particularly in the realms of marketing and sales, where the landscape has changed significantly since the early 2000s when contracts were abundant, the competition wasn't so high, and the budgets were bigger.
Being Certified as a Minority Business
The Minority Business Certification has played a pivotal role in Altrian's success both in California and Florida. Certification provides a competitive advantage when bidding for contracts that offer preferences to certified businesses. For instance, a 10% preference means that a $100,000 bid from a certified company would be evaluated as $90,000 (but still paid the full $100,000 if awarded), giving them an edge in winning contracts.
Harriet shares valuable advice for entrepreneurs seeking certification and contract opportunities. To secure certification, it's crucial to meet the minimum time in business requirements and ensure all necessary documents, accounting records, and compliance systems are in order. When gearing up contracts, she emphasizes the significance of having adequate insurance and financing to support services, as clients might have extended payment terms. Additionally, maintaining good communication with customers is essential to ensure satisfaction and contract retention.
Stabilizing the Business with CFNMD
Harriet was indeed gearing up her business to be contract-ready when she contacted her bank about financing and learned that they would not be able to fund her at that time. She however was encouraged to search for alternative lending options and reached out CFNMD.
The funding support from CFNMD has stabilized Altrian's business and provided the means to expand marketing efforts, prepare for larger payrolls, and position the company for more significant contracts.
Wise Advice: Step back, Reevaluate, and Consider Other Approaches
Harriet's entrepreneurial journey has taught her the importance of resilience and reevaluation. She advises new entrepreneurs to view negative experiences as opportunities for growth.
“Say, if you are not awarded a contract or you don't see any results for the first six months, it doesn't mean that you're not supposed to be in business. It means that you should step back, reevaluate what your approach is, and perhaps consider taking other approaches.” Harriet says.