Think You’re Cut Out For Government Contracting?
The government contracting industry has been so big over the past 60 years that its annual accumulated spending is at $500 billion — the same reason why many labeled it as the fourth branch of government. Amidst former President Eisenhower’s warning about the influence of politics and economy to the government contracting arm, it still managed to pour in billions of dollars by awarding contracts to private sectors. Now, if you think that only the big names are given priority to get government contracts, you definitely are not doing your homework! The truth is in FY2014, according to Data.gov, 25% of all eligible government contracts, which is about $91.7 billion was awarded to small businesses like you. So the question is — what can your firm do to take your share of the pie?
As a starter, here are 5 ways you can play in the government contracting game:
Make government agencies notice you
The first thing you need to do is to make sure the government agencies are aware of your presence. Do you have a capability statement? If not, you need to get one. You need to take measures like attending/hosting trade shows and always engaging your business’ social media profiles with decision makers. Also, your website should be easy to navigate so once anyone in the government lands on your online pages, they are clear on what your firm offers and how they can reach you.
Do your research
To score government contracts, you must exert effort and be persistent. You should know your target customer, inside and out, understand what they buy, know when the opportunities are being released and know who your competitors are. You can begin your market research by browsing government contracting opportunities at www.fbo.gov (the official website of Federal Business Opportunities) to start.
Register your small business properly
To make sure your business qualifies for contracts you must have a federal tax ID number (EIN), DUNS code, NAICS code and business checking account. Go to the System for Award Management (SAM) www.sam.gov to register your company. Here, you can create a profile to make it easier for government procurement officers to find you.
Start small and remain persistent
While you may want to keep an eye on the larger government contracts, you must first consider starting small through subcontracting. Know who the giants are in the government contracting industry and offer your services to them. Doing so will make it easier for you to penetrate this market, which can eventually land you to larger, solo government contracts. You may also try to bid on projects that are as little as $3,000. Once the prime contractors or the government is satisfied with your services, they will definitely keep you in mind for future projects.
Another thing that you must also remember is to stay persistent. On the average, the survey shows that it took about 2 years for contractors to win their first government contract. The 2009 survey even revealed that those who spent time, money and resources are the ones who were able to succeed. While you may think that government contracting can be draining, great rewards come afterward because once you’re in, you’re in!
Build and nurture relationships
It’s a good idea to attend procurement conferences and seminars that government agencies hold throughout the year. Being present in these events increases your knowledge about government spending and allows you to build relationships with decision-makers in the government. Networking is essentially important during the summer and fall seasons because the federal fiscal year ends in October.
One thing worth knowing is that there are 230,000 government purchasers that have the capability to purchase products and services ranging from $3,000 to $20,000 in the case of emergencies. You may want to distinguish at least 2 government agencies that you may want to focus on to build solid meaningful relationships. So when they are ready to purchase your firm is top of mind.
I also wanted to let you know that on October 12, 2017, we will be having a webinar where I’ll be discussing tools that you can use to streamline your proposal writing process. We will also be giving away a toolkit with video resources and templates to those who participate in the webinar, so make sure you don’t miss out! You can save your spot here: http://bit.ly/ProposalWritingWebcast. See you there!