Government Contracting 101: Five Winning Tips!
May 16, 2012|
By Bridget Bean
Can you imagine your small business providing a key product or service to the Department of Navy, the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Agriculture?
All of this can be a reality! The federal government spends more than $500 billion a year in contracts, making it the largest purchaser of goods in the world. Small businesses throughout the country can—and should—take advantage of contracting opportunities so that they can grow, innovate and create jobs. At the Small Business Administration (SBA) we have a variety of resources to assist small firms in navigating government contracting.
Weston businesswoman Arria Whiston, president and CEO of Allegheny Science & Technology Corporation, took advantage of the SBA’s government contracting programs. She began her path with the SBA’s 8(a) certification program and counseling services from the West Virginia District Office. These avenues opened the door to several government contracting opportunities. To date, she has secured contracts with NASA, the U.S. Army and the Department of Justice.
Here’s what Whiston had to say about her company’s experience with government contracting: “Working in the federal government sector is a different avenue than working in the commercial sectors. When I decided to move my business towards government contracting, my first call was to the SBA District Office in Clarksburg. They were extremely helpful with their guidance and direction, which has led to many successful contracting opportunities. Each government contract award is as exciting as the first, which can be the most difficult to obtain for most companies. However, using the tools and resources provided by the SBA makes it easier to navigate the government contracting path.”
The SBA wants to help entrepreneurs like Whiston navigate government contracting. Here are five winning tips:
- Get a counselor. You can find counselors in 68 SBA district offices, 885 small business development centers, 110 women’s business centers, 350 SCORE chapters and 300 procurement technical assistance centers across the country. These professionals are standing by to help you get in the contracting game, and most of their services are free. Visit 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, also known as HUBZones, are also eligible for set-asides. The 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. Find out more at www.SBA.gov.
- Be targeted. 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.
- 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 (OSDBUs). Visit www.osdbu.gov to find out more.
- Identify contracting opportunities. Be proactive. 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 and contracting officers you have met, and visit the Federal Business Opportunities Web site (www.fbo.gov), which has a list of all contracts available for bid. Also, look for new tools like green.sba.gov, an online portal that houses all of the clean-energy small-business opportunities across the federal government.
Winning a government contract is hard work, but small business owners are not in it alone. Contact us today to learn how government contracting can benefit your small business.
About the Author
Bridget Bean is the acting regional administrator for the United States Small Business Administration and district director of the Washington Metro Area District Office. As regional administrator for Region 3, Bean is responsible for the delivery and management of the SBA’s small business programs, financial assistance and business development program initiatives throughout the region. During her time with the SBA, Bean has held leadership positions in key areas such as procurement, field operations and the Office of the Inspector General, and she is considered a subject matter expert on a wide range of business topics.