As the U.S. recovers steadily from the most recent recession, confidence in the nation’s economy is growing among small business owners who foresee steady growth in the next few years, as monitored by the database of government contracts.
In 2012, 22.25% of federal government contracting dollars went to small business, just short of the annual goal of 23%. This usually means that government agencies will increase their efforts to award prime contracts, which is great news for entrepreneurs.
Even with limited resources it’s usually in a start-up business’s best interest to explore selling to the government on a regular basis. Federal, state and local government agencies make great buyers because they will never default on their purchases, will pay on time and regularly and will let their sellers know exactly how much of a product or service they need and when they need it.
Here’s a quick list of things businesses need to do in getting started with government contracting:
1) Get registered. Before selling to the federal government all vendors are required to register in the SAM database. It places vendors on a government search list which allows purchasing agents identify prospective sellers.
2) Get certified as small business, women-owned business, minority-owned business, etc. Federal laws set aside government procurement dollars to specific under-represented businesses. Many state and local government agencies also follow this plan and set-aside large amounts of their contracting dollars for just these businesses.
3) Get procurement assistance from the SBA. From start to finish, the procurement process can be quite daunting for business owners inexperienced in government contracting. The Small Business Administration provides contracting support to small businesses succeed in the government sector.
4) Search for available opportunities. Contracting opportunities can be found in a number of places including: government agency websites, newsletters, local classifieds, etc. A great place to start is checking the FedBizOpps.gov website, a government-wide point of entry for all contracts over $25,000. A recent addition to the contractor’s toolkit are government purchase order databases, where you can perform highly targeted searches for opportunities based on purchasing history.
The process of writing and submitting a winning proposal still involves a number of factors, more than we can go into detail in this article, but with the right planning and dedication small business owners and entrepreneurs should be able to find success in government contracting in no time.
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