How LaSonia Mansfield Started Her Business

The SFPUC’s Contractors Assistance Center (the Center) recently started its second session of the Getting Down to Business (GD2B) Program. The 15-week long program took place online from August 2021 to November 2021. 
The GD2B program provides practical solutions about key business operations. In the program, Local Business Enterprises (LBE) review specific and technical areas to understand and resolve common business issues, such as preparing their bids on contracts, performing cost analysis, and managing their contract performance. 
Staff recently sat down with LaSonia Mansfield, owner of Mansfield and Mansfield Construction Clean-Up, and participant in the GD2B program, to find out how the GD2B program benefited her fast-growing company. 
LaSonia did not set out to run her own company. As a third-generation nurse, she was following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother before deciding to start her own business. “I’ve been a nurse for 25 years and I worked in all fields of nursing, from general hospital to the county jail and to subacute care. But I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. And at the age of 50, me and my partner and sister, Caroline, finally decided to start our own company,” Mansfield explains.
Through the Center, the GD2B program provides LBEs with additional tools and support to help compete for City-funded contracts. The Center also offers technical assistance, classroom training, marketing support, and one-on-one counseling. Most importantly, these services and support are tailored to the specific needs of the company and its specific projects. 
By learning applicable skills through GD2B and utilizing the Center’s other free resources, LBEs can better compete for projects and navigate important City contracting requirements, while also becoming familiar with effective strategies they can reproduce on other projects throughout the City and beyond.
“The files and documents that the GD2B program provides, we can go back to it, and refer back to it. It’s like the bible. When we got into the small details, that was for me the ‘Ah Ha!’ moment.” Mansfield said. “The entire process stood out to me because of the sincerity, the honesty and the desire; and that we understand the fine print.”
Each week the program tackles a different subject spanning the completion of a statement of qualifications to understanding and correctly estimating labor costs. The training covered topics related to contracting, including contractual requirements, estimating, project management, financial management, project software, and other business intangibles.
One of the programs advisers and mentors, Martha Hernandez, CEO of madeBOS, described the mindset of the program’s approach as being “intentional about the outcome – exposing them, getting them to do things like the Scope Letter, understanding the exclusions, identifying the pitfalls in contracts… for new businesses, in particular.”
“One of the main goals of the program is to not only help LBEs, but also and specifically, Minority-owned Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Women-owned Business Enterprises (WBEs). Our entire class cohort were all MBEs and WBEs,” Hernandez explains.
“We have gone through a similar same journey and we speak the same language. There is institutionalized racism, and it has created barriers for small businesses. We may not be able to change the institution, but we can share the playground rules. We want to offer the right tools to be competitive,” Hernandez said. “What I want to tell anyone looking to be a part of this or is interested in the program is, you’re not alone. There is a community who wants you to win. There are people already doing it and doing it well. We have confidence that, if you have the basics: the structure and delivery, that you will win, too. The program caters to many personalities, too. Some participants are more vocal of course, but that doesn’t mean not everyone is getting anything out of it. There is something for everyone,” Hernandez added.
Mansfield’s suggestion to other LBEs considering the program? “You can’t afford to not be in the program. It’s going to make a huge difference. In the future, I want to put a program together, put the community into training and create a healthy robust program. I want to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs. I’m a sister soldier at heart.”