The federal government spends over $500 billion a year in contracts, making it the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world. Businesses throughout the country can and should take advantage of contracting opportunities so that they can grow, innovate and create jobs. Small business in particular has a sometimes unique opportunity to “cash in” on government contract set-asides… and should. I found the following advice on an SBA website somewhere (sorry I don’t have a link).
In order to help entrepreneurs navigate government contracting. Here are five winning tips:
- Get help. Small businesses can get assistance with business planning, access to capital and government contracting matters by connecting with the Small Business Development Center nearest you. These professionals are standing by to help you get in the contracting game, and most of their services are free. You can also visit them online at www.SBA.gov/direct.
- Get certified. A number of certification programs can increase your chances of winning a contract. SBA’s 8(a) program provides counseling, mentoring and access to set-aside and sole-source contracts. Service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and small companies in Historically Underutilized Businesses Zones, or HUBZones, are also eligible for set-asides. SBA recently launched the Women’s Federal Contract Program which opens up contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses in more than 300 industries where they are underrepresented.
- Be focused. The most successful contractors have a specific product or service that federal agencies need. Decide what you have to offer and target your efforts at the federal agencies that need it most.
- Be proactive. Find opportunities that fit well with your company. Once you’ve determined the agencies most likely to buy from you, you need to find contracts to bid on.
- Stay in close contact with the agency’s OSDBU (see next tip)
- Stay in close contact with the agency’s contracting officers you have met
- Visit the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fbo.gov, which has a list of all contracts available for bid
- Look for new tools the government and industry put out on the market every so often (green.sba.gov is an online portal of the clean-energy small-business opportunities across the federal government)
- Market your business. Get your foot in the door by attending matchmaking events with agency contracting officers or by reaching out to agencies’ Offices of Small and Disadvantage Business Utilization, or OSDBUs. Visit http://www.osdbu.gov to find out more.
Anything basic you would like to add to the list? Let me know below.