When federal spending is up, as it is now, that creates a great opportunity for government contractors and for small and developing businesses. These contracts can help small businesses get the head start they need, but landing a contract for your firm can be tricky. Knowing all you can about the process will help your success in obtaining federal contracts.
Here’s what you need to familiarize yourself with so that you go for the contract that makes sense for your business:
• Know the rules.
Selling to the government is much different than selling to the private sector. Familiarize yourself with all that ‘s involved, as federal contracts have different bidding and product requirements, and longer lead times.
• Understand what the government is buying.
Every business has its own unique goals. Understanding your own business goals and strategies will help you target the right opportunity for your products/services.
What the federal government intends to buy and how much they are going to spend is all in the public domain. These budgets offer small business owners the chance to identify opportunities, and focus their sales and marketing strategies accordingly. Each federal agency budget is listed on the Office of Management and Budget website.
• Zero in on agencies that aren’t meeting their goals.
Every year the SBA ensures that small businesses get their fair share of federal contracts to make sure that goals are met. Again, all this information is available for public viewing. Take a look to see if your business could possibly lend its products/ services to an agency to help them hit their target.
• Research existing opportunities.
Once you’ve identified any prospects with agencies that align with your business goals, start researching upcoming and/or existing opportunities that may become available to you and your firm.
• Hit the ground running.
Make it a point to attend agency or industry-specific government-held events. These will attract the right influencers and industry experts. These events are worth checking because you can use your networking skills to link with people who could aid you to land that contract.
Though government contracts can greatly benefit entrepreneurs, landing one can be tough. You need to be well-versed in the world of federal contracting to achieve what you want. The problem is that to obtain a contract can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months. That is a huge amount of time for those emerging businesses that need cash fast.
However, there are ways in which you can speed the process up; you just need to utilize the right tricks. Here we provide you with five tips for not only landing you a government contract, but also landing it as quickly as possible:
1. Take advantage of special programs.
If your business is women-owned or minority-owned, or even economically disadvantaged, all have a leading edge when it comes to landing contracts. Additionally, businesses that maintain their primary office(s) in historical or underutilized business districts or zones have another advantage over the rest.
Check out any other regulations that your business may qualify for. By taking advantage of these programs, your business will have a better chance of being favored over other businesses.
2. Get certified.
Becoming certified will better help your business. Businesses that are owned 51 percent by women or veterans will receive preferential treatment. To get certified, reach out to organizations that your state provides for women, minorities, and disadvantaged business owners.
If you don’t want to certify through an organization, you can also self-certify through individual contract proposals.
3. Exploit all programs possible.
If your business qualifies for any programs, don’t be afraid to apply to multiple certifications. You may be able to reap all the benefits from all applicable contract opportunities.
4. Become a subcontractor.
Federal agencies like to give contracts to firms that have an established track record. To help your business establish as track record, seek out work as a subcontractor for a business that is working on a major government contract.
To connect with subcontractors, attend local business matchmaking events that aim to link businesses with varying government and corporate procurement officers.
5. Get a mentor.
This networking trick will take you far, and could potentially lead you and your business to subcontract opportunists or even contracts. Through programs and organizations, meet similar business owners and become a protégé to a larger firm that is already working with the government. You will then get your foot in the door and become a better candidate in the government’s eyes. You can also go to big contractors directly and offer to “study” under them.