Dealing with the government is not something most business people put high on their lists of things they enjoy. But there’s a reason that small business owners are willing to put so much into learning the inner workings of the federal government in an attempt to win contracts. Government checks don’t bounce. I know that is simplifying the issue, but what better stream of Revenue than one that comes on time every two weeks and is guaranteed by the US Treasury not to bounce?!
Winning a government contract is not a linear process, though. Navigating the acronym-laden system of government contracting can confuse the most motivated small business owners who get bogged down in the paperwork or knocked out of the running with the wrong bid. From all the statistics I have seen, the average small business person submits four proposals before they win a contract. That is an interesting “statistic” considering that the federal government is required to for contracts with small business 23 percent of the time.
Beyond getting familiar with terms such as OSBDU (that’s the Office of Small Business Disadvantage Utilization, each government agency has one), it is advisable to narrow your focus to agencies that were looking for specific types of companies. Once that is done, differentiate yourself from others in the categories being sought by highlighting what sets you apart (sustainable products, green energy, military-friendly, etc.) – give yourself an edge over the competition.
The next step is face-to-face meetings with the people that award those contracts, which usually means a trip to Washington, D.C. It really is about establishing relationships. Perhaps the one you make this time won’t pan out, but it is likely that it could lead to another opportunity later. It also gives you the opportunity to get out of the office.
Then, of course, the government is making an impact on trying to get those goals met. Job generation is a key result of obtaining contracts, and one reason the federal government has mandated that 23 percent of its contracts go to small business. The Small Business Growth and Federal Accountability Act, calls for reducing an agency’s budget by 10 percent each year it fails to hit that 23 percent mark.
The GET Small Business Contracting Act of 2012 increases that goal to 25 percent. Introduced on January 31, it calls for withholding senior agency officials’ bonuses if that 25 percent goal is not met. The proposed legislation to increase procurement goals to 25 percent could mean an additional $11 billion in contract opportunities for small businesses.
Bottom-line: now is the time for small businesses to take advantage of the opportunities. Get yourself organized to take a bigger bite out of the government contracts market this year.