When you are a small business owner that specializes in contract work the prospect of earning a contract with a government agency is rather exciting. This is especially true when you hear facts like the federal government alone issues over $500 billion in contract awards each year or that a bid is awarded approximately every 20 seconds, every day of every year. Of course, those figures don’t even include state, local, or even niche district agencies!
As the small business owner looking to break into this huge industry, though the results may seem lucrative, you may be lost on how exactly to dig through all of the information and ultimately wind up winning the contract award. One of the best ways to start the process is by understanding the basics of the government contract business. Learning important information like who offers contracts, the bid lifecycle, and reliable bid research is a great place to start.
Those Who Issue Bids
Regardless of who is actually issuing a contract bid, the linking fact between any government, agency, or district is that they all depend upon another business to complete the project. Whether you are a contractor, merchant, or wholesaler, the federal government, on down to the smallest township in the state, requires that businesses such as yours fulfill the requirements of the contract.
So who actually issues bids? Simply put, any authoritative institution. As has already been noted, the federal government puts up thousands of bids with big money backing them. Often times, these contracts are larger in scale and will most likely blanket the entire country.
However, if your small business isn’t fully capable of handling a multi-million dollar contract then a regional agency or government may be a better option. State and city governments are the larger of the regional business opportunities. Bids are also often issued by counties, parishes, and towns. Do keep in mind that great opportunities also reside in bids from school districts, power districts, animal control agencies, and airports. Of course these are just a few of the many smaller organizations that put up public bids.
Governments and agencies are always looking for contractors to do their lawn mowing services, infrastructure improvements, office supply restocking, or electrical work. The fact of the matter is that small businesses have a plethora of opportunities to earn contract awards. You just need to know where and when they are available.
A Bid’s Circle of Life
It is important to understand the basics of where a bid originates and what type of bid it is being classified as. With any governmental opportunity, it first must have arisen out of a need that the public has declared important. Without public need there is no bid. Once the agency or government defines the project, it is then made public to both citizens and contractors.
When it hits that stage, it is assigned to the winning business, granted, and finally tracked. It is the tracking process that it is important to understand. Each opportunity is positioned based upon its individual timeline. Small business owners looking to acquire a government contract award would certainly benefit from researching the various stages of a bid’s life.
The first is what has already been awarded. These bids are called “awards” and it is the “past” stage of the bid’s life. Awards have every piece of information about the project made available for public review for up to 12 months. As a business owner, you could easily find the information about past contract announcements and what the winning bids were. Other information about trends on spending, public needs, and potential trends can also be located.
The next stage is the open bids. These are all of the opportunities that are currently waiting on proposals. Anytime an agency or government is seeking a business to complete a specific service or fulfill a product request, details of the bid are kept in the open bids stage. These bids are often the portal for your business to start growing in its efforts to complete contracts for governments at any level.
Every piece of information that your business will need to assess the opportunity can be accessed through the open bids and you will ultimately be able to decide whether or not to place a bid. Just be sure to remember that competitive bidding is the key to winning a contract with the government or agency.
If a bid has yet to be made public then it is in the advance stage, which is the last stage of a bid’s life. Researching the advance bids is a great opportunity for your business to prepare for the upcoming bid. You will give yourself more time to craft a proposal that highlights your specific strength of service or product. This extra time might make all the difference in winning a bid in the future.