This past Friday, I attended the event, “Victory in Procurement: Grow Your Business through Government Contracting.” It featured awards for outstanding government contractors as well as several breakout sessions and speeches from people in government and small business owners alike.
The event started with Allison Silver of American Express OPEN, which hosted the event, giving some background on AmEx OPEN and advice on contracting. AmEx OPEN is the division of American Express which is dedicated to the success of small businesses, and provides resources such as Openforum.com/governmentcontracts, a website that provides online help for small business owners. The website has some awesome features, such as a search engine in which you enter your zip code, and it pulls up potential contracting opportunities.
Out of all of the needs of small businesses, the most important is acquiring customers. American Express OPEN, in hopes of helping small businesses, uses these events to share what they and other professionals know about government contracting. The government, as the world’s largest customer, spending almost $500 billion/year on myriad industries, is a great place to look for customers. Washington, DC alone was the recipient of over $19 billion in federal spending on awarded contracts; when combined with Maryland and Virginia, that amount skyrockets to $106 billion.
Allison Silver also gave a couple of bits of advice to contractors looking to pursue the government market:
- Start small and work your way up – starting is the most difficult part
- Bid on smaller contracts, or work as a subcontractor
- Half of all active small business contractors have found success subcontracting
- Invest in your own success
- Invest time and money in understanding how the government works
- Understand your competitors
- Become well-versed in agencies with contracts you’d like to pursue
Allison was a great kick-off speaker of an event which I was impressed with. I will be posting up a few more blogs from the day throughout today, and maybe tomorrow, so stay posted!