Businesses electing to get into the government market are abundant, but most stop at the initial briefing when the business owner or manager finds out that the cash register does not automatically fill up after the initial registration processes.
The government market rewards are plentiful if you have the desire AND the patience to navigate through the various entry points and are diligent with your marketing efforts. Whether you are a product provider or service provider, there are key elements necessary in order to be successful in the government market.
First you need to plan your strategy. Decide whether you are going to go through the process with your internal resources or hire an experienced team to help you get introduced to key players, buying agencies and prime contracting partners. Most companies experience serious growing pains if there is not a clear understanding of the landscape before getting started.
Ask yourself some key questions. Does the government buy what I sell? How often? Who are my competitors? What value-added services do I bring to the table? What does my company do differently to set me apart? Once you can clearly answer these initial questions, you are ready for next steps. Here are some examples of what government contracting officers are looking for.
1) Quick delivery
2) Quality –strong technical capabilities
3) Customer Service – good past performance
4) Company reputation
Next, define your position for your product or service. Remember the US Government market is 25% OF THE GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT AND HAS OVER 20 MILLION EMPLOYEES. You need to know WHO in government are your significant buyers and influencers, and specifically target these people. Incremental growth is recommended and it is sane and doable. Spending money on prospecting new agencies before your foundation is laid is risky at best.
Develop relationships. Like in any business, people do business with people and companies they know and trust. Government business is no exception. Establish and maximize the value of relationships. Remember the “R” word. Understanding that federal employees take pride in their work is key when formulating new RELATIONSHIPS. Knowing and understanding simple things like “on-time, on-budget” makes your client – your government customer- a star. If you can deliver, they will remember.
Proactive marketing – Intelligent and proactive marketing makes the difference. Identifying the prospects, creating the opportunities, developing the relationships and developing the right niche for your company based on customer feedback will allow you to win major government market share.
There is no one pathway for doing business with the government. It requires dedication, patience, due diligence and thoroughness of work performed.
Ready to get started? Here is a summary of helpful hints for small businesses looking for government contract opportunities.
1. Do your homework and check out the competition competition.
2. Get ready. Make sure you have all the registrations complete such as a federal tax ID # and DUNS number.
3. Get the necessary classifications. Are you a veteran-owned, women-owned, small, and/or disadvantaged company? If so, it pays to get classified as such in order to take advantage of set-aside contracts.
4. Build a Central Contracting Registration (CCR) profile
5. Consider subcontracting and teaming. Identify large firms that hold contracts and determine how your product or service would be a value addition to their offerings to the government. Subcontracting is an excellent way to gain exposure to the government market. New help? Click here to get started
6. Attend small-business conferences
7. Visit a local Small Business Administration (SBA) office.
Still got that itch to enter the government niche? GovPartners, LLC is a minority, woman-owned firm that works with small businesses to help streamline the government process. Our cradle-to-grave approach includes government registrations, opening doors to prime contractors, researching government opportunities, proposal writing and submission and business development efforts. If the above efforts are overwhelming for your existing resources to handle, GovPartners will expand your current team to develop and execute a comprehensive government business development plan specifically tailored for your company. Contact us today for a successful tomorrow.
Arthur: Sabrina Ford, GovPartners
AGENCY SPOTLIGHT: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
WHO is USAID and what do they do?
USAID is the US agency for international development and they provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance in support of the US Foreign Policy goals. The USAID Congressional Budget Justification contains information on the foreign assistance programs and activities implemented by the USAID. They receive their overall guidance from the Secretary of State.
WHAT do they buy?
USAID has partnerships in Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East. They procure technical assistance, commodities, equipment, transportation and construction. There are detailed financial reports available on the USAID website and a forecast of opportunities available at http://www.usaid.gov/business/business_opportunities/forecast/forecast.html.
Fiscal Year: 2009
Total dollars: $5,170,748,552
The amount is 1.0% of all awarded dollars for the fiscal year.
Total number of contractors: 1,365
Total number of transactions: 5,698
WHERE is USAID located?
USAID's headquarters is located in Washington, DC at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The main telephone number is (202) 712-2000.
WHEN does the USAID office purchase most of their products and services from small businesses?
Since the USAID agency is responsible for worldwide services and operations, they are always purchasing. The main website for USAID opportunities is located at www.fbo.gov. The USAID offices also purchase from GSA schedules and Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWAC). There is also information on the USAID website for small businesses at http://www.usaid.gov/business/small_business/.
HOW do I become a vendor for USAID?
USAID requires all of the initial registrations as other government entities. You must be registered in the CCRs and ORCA and must acquire a DUNS number if you do not already have one. The OSDBU/MRC (Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization Minority Resource Center) is the initial point of contact for small businesses wanting to do business with the USAID agency.
WHY? USAID is heading up the recent Haiti earthquake response teams. Be a part of the solution and find out how you can help.
The Obama Administration announced on 12 Feb 2010 a multi-agency initiative to spur regional economic growth while making buildings more energy efficient. The effort will create jobs and llower utility bills through innovative technologySeven federal agencies today issued a combined Funding Opportunity Announcement of up to $129.7 million over five years to create a regional research center that will develop new building efficiency technologies and work with local partners to implement the technologies in area buildings.
Buildings account for nearly 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption and carbon emissions. Improvements in building efficiency will provide significant benefits – reducing energy use, lowering utility bills and decreasing carbon emissions.
The agencies are working together to leverage funding and resources to promote regional growth through an Energy Regional Innovation Cluster (E-RIC) that is centered around an Energy Innovation Hub focused on developing new technologies to improve the design of energy-efficient building systems. This Energy Innovation Hub, one of three proposed by the Administration and funded by Congress in the FY10 budget, will bring together a multidisciplinary team of researchers, ideally working under one roof, to conduct research and work to solve priority technology challenges that span work from basic research to engineering development to commercialization readiness.
The E-RIC will work to disseminate new technologies into the local marketplace and share best practices with the public and private sectors. It will be supported through agency investments in technology and business development, and will include support for workforce education and training. By linking researchers at the Hub with local businesses and supporting specialized workforce education and training in the area, the initiative will create an economically dynamic region focused on building efficiency technologies. Read full article
WHO? The United States Department of Energy (DoE) is concerned with the U.S. policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material. Its responsibilities include the nation's nuclear weapons program, nuclear reactor production for the United States Navy, energy conservation, energy research, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production. DOE also sponsors more basic and applied scientific research than any other US federal agency; most of this is funded through its system of United States Department of Energy National Laboratories.
WHAT do they buy? The DoE spends most of its resources on Government Owned-Contractor Operated facilities, Research and Development, and Construction.
WHERE? The U.S. Department of Energy is located at 1000 Independence Ave., SW Washington, DC 20585. Their phone number is 1-202-586-5000.
WHEN? Due to the size and scope of the DoE, you will find that the Department issues solicitations on a daily basis. Most of these can be found on FBO.gov, as well as Government Acquisition Contracts like GSA.
WHY? Just last Friday, the DoE signed 26 renewable-energy service contracts that are expected to result in an initial investment of about $277 million and generate 466 megawatts of power. The push for green powered initiatives has been one of the DoE's recent major focuses.
An annual Small Business Conference will be held in Atlanta, GA on May 10-12, 2010. For more details, click here.
An NASBC meeting will be held on March 29, 2010, spotlighting the U.S. Department of Energy. For details and registration information, click here.
10. The U.S. Government is the largest company in the world. Approximately $1 billion in new opportunities in the services sector of Government contracting are available to bid on by private business each day.
9. 95% of federal contracts are awarded to small and medium sized businesses.
8. There are 2,000 to 5,000 new government contracting opportunities in all industry categories.
7. A Small Business Set-Aside Program (SBSA) was developed to assure that small businesses are awarded a fair proportion of government contracts by reserving certain government purchases exclusively for participation by small business concerns.
6. Contracts that have an anticipated value between $2,500 and $100,000 are reserved for small, small disadvantaged, women-owned, and small veteran-owned businesses.
5. The Small Business Association (SBA) administers a business assistance program for small disadvantaged businesses called 8(a) which helps small businesses compete in the American economy and access the federal procurement market.
4. Less than 5% of the businesses in the United States do business with the U.S. Government? WOW!
3. America's 9.1 million women-owned businesses employ 27.5 million people and contribute $3.6 trillion to the economy.
2. Minority-owned businesses have nearly doubled in the past two decades. A report from the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration shows that minorities own nearly 15 percent of American businesses.
And...the number one and "OMG why haven't you been working for this customer" reason IS...
1. The government procures services ranging from smaller scale Food Services and Janitorial projects to complex space flight systems development.
What are you waiting for? Find out how you can start selling your products and services to the government today!
The Tri-County area is facing unprecedented demographic changes resulting in increased community diversity and entrepreneurial opportunities. The growth in the region is increasing the demand for a new array of goods and services addressing the needs and interests of a more diverse community.
Additionally, the Governor’s commitment to support small businesses, combined with changes in local contracting demands due to BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) and the consolidation of larger companies is forcing small businesses to become more competitive in their service offerings, marketing plans and capabilities. In short, time is of the essence for minority/women owned businesses to position themselves to benefit from the opportunities present within the Southern Maryland and surrounding areas. Thus, these businesses require support developing their capacity and accessing opportunities.
"Leveraging partnerships are keys to bringing business resources into the Southern Maryland region. The Tri-County Council's (TCC) Regional Director of Economic Development, the TCC's Minority Business Opportunities Task Force, and stakeholders in the Southern MD region will take the results of the report to maximize and provide tools to assist small, minority, and women owned businesses build capacity to take advantage of the business and economic development projects coming to Southern Maryland. Planning and information are what small business owners need to be successful. Success means winning contracts, growing their customer base, and ultimately providing jobs in the local community." Dawn Tucker, President Calvert County Minority Business Alliance.
Milligan & Company, LLC in partnership with BITHGroup Technologies was engaged by the Tri-County Council of Southern Maryland to collect and analyze minority/women owned firm data, build a web based tool to support the County’s outreach efforts and provide recommendations for a sustainability and capacity building initiative.
The outcome findings identified through the survey responses, stakeholder engagement, secondary research, and general business development knowledge are:
"The report confirms what we in Charles County have experienced with our rapidly growing minority business community. Our challenge is identifying resources that will assist these businesses and help them grow. The formula for success is having the data we need to target these resources. The TCC has done a great job in gathering the data," said Jeff Nixon, Minority Business Enterprise Chief, Charles County.