Some small businesses hesitate when it comes to working with the government. Who needs extra paperwork? And many believe invoices are never paid on time.
If you think this way, you’re wasting valuable federal business opportunities. The government is the largest procurer in the world.
The federal government has allotted 23 percent of funding to small businesses. That includes prime contracts.
No matter what product or service you provide, you can find a buyer in the government.
But how do you land those federal business opportunities? Read on to find out.
The United States government is a vast entity. You won’t be dealing with the whole organization at once. Instead, you’ll work with individual agencies.
Those agencies have a specific focus. You’ll be wasting your time – and theirs – if you send cold pitches to all of them.
Research the agencies that need your offering and target them first.
Create a capability statement to explain who you are, what your business does, what capability you have, and how you’ve performed in the past. Make sure this statement clearly communicates the benefit of working with you.
You can supply these for any posted requirements, saving you time. They’re also a great way to help you narrow your focus.
Familiarize yourself with the way the government buys from small businesses. Understanding the process will make it easier to prepare and submit bids.
Identify federal business opportunities
Once you have your niche, you can move onto the next stage. Identify those agencies that you’d like to work with. You may find you have several to choose from.
You can filter these options further using a simple strategy. Target those agencies that need your help most.
But how do you know where to start?
Individual government agencies publish their formal goals every year. For those agencies that consistently don’t meet their targets, opportunities exist for your sales strategy.
Focus on those agencies that habitually miss their goals. Your services or products could be exactly what they need.
Do your research into the budgets of each agency. A higher budget implies a larger contract, giving you an insight into where you should focus your marketing strategy.
This transparency is a definite advantage involved with federal business opportunities as private companies don’t publish such valuable information.
Make sure you also research the goals and missions of each agency. You don’t want to bid to work with an agency whose goals don’t align with those of your business.
As an alternative, focus on the smaller contracts first. They’re a good way to build experience in the federal system. And the work will give you valuable projects to talk about during the bidding process for larger contracts.
Any contracts worth more than $25k are posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
Filter the contracts according to industry specifics and set up notifications. You’ll get daily emails straight to your inbox.
All agencies will post their planned purchases on their website. Even if the agency hasn’t opened contracts for bidding, you can still learn what they need.
Use the forecast to prepare a marketing plan, assemble a team, and start talking to the small business office within that agency.
It’s a good way to establish trust. Relationships still matter, even in government contracts.
Contacting them early helps to establish your credentials as an expert.
Use this planning phase to learn how to sell to the government. Working within the federal system does pose its own problems. It’s important to note that you’re registered to sell your services to the government.
You’ll need to register for inclusion in the System for Award Management (SAM) database.
The rules involved with federal business opportunities can be more strict than the commercial sector with longer lead times or strict bidding procedures.
If you take the time early on to learn the process, you’ll save time later. You’re also more likely to succeed when you do submit a bid.
Don’t neglect the in-person approach
Finding federal business opportunities is one thing, but making them a success is another. The government runs mentor programs to help you.
The GSA Mentor-Protege Program connects smaller businesses with those experienced in procurement. It’s a great way for companies to share knowledge.
The Small Business Administration also runs the SBA Mentor-Protege Program. It can pair you with a mentor who understands the federal process.
Attend government events according to the agencies or industries you want to target. They’re often private sector hosted, but you’ll find plenty of influencers and experts among the guest list.
Alternatively, attend outreach events organized by the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). It’s their job to connect government buyers and business owners.
You’ll also be able to learn more about entering the market. Seize any training opportunities that you can.
You can also connect with Procurement Center Representatives to find training or take part in business matchmaking events.
Prepare and submit bids
Once you’ve done the groundwork, it’s time to prepare the bid. Follow any instructions to the absolute letter. You don’t want to give the agency any excuse to dismiss your bid out of hand.
Something as simple as following the correct format can be the difference between your business and your competitor. It’s also an easy win, so it should be your top priority.
There are differences between the federal and commercial sectors. But it’s still worth mentioning your commercial experience in your bid. You need to be an expert in the eyes of the person reading your bid.
Submit your bid (according to their instructions) and be patient. It can take a business several attempts to find success so don’t be discouraged if you don’t win your bid the first time.
Use rejections as a learning experience – which is another good reason to try smaller contracts at first.
You can also register with TendersPage to search for contracts. You can filter federal business opportunities according to the agency and contract size.
Whatever you do, make sure you tick all of the boxes. And good luck!