When most of us hear the words “government contracts,” we likely envision huge, multi-million dollar contracts being awarded to large corporations. While most contract awards are on a much smaller scale than this example, it can be difficult for new contractors to land large, federal contracts on their own. But this does not mean that the government does not need smaller, first time vendors to purchase goods and services from! Even if your business is a small, family owned company, you can still fulfill many of the government’s needs. You may simply need to scale down where you look for these opportunities.
First, consider subcontracting or teaming. In this sort of arrangement, your company would be working under a larger “prime” contractor to fulfill the needs of a large contract. This can be an excellent way for you to get your foot in the door with federal agencies, gain experience both within your industry and in government contracting procedures, build important relationships with other businesses and procurement officers and develop your reputation as a dependable vendor. Many successful prime contractors got started by subcontracting and teaming with established vendors. Now that current regulations encourage subcontracting to small businesses on larger contracts, it would be foolish to overlook this doorway into government contracting success. Subcontracting opportunities can be found in several locations. Check out the SBA’s SUB-Net page, the GSA’s subcontracting directory and check FBO.gov for larger companies that have won or are likely to win contracts which may benefit from your company’s products or services.
Next, don’t overlook local and state contracting opportunities if federal contracts are out of your reach. These contracts may require a bit more effort on your part to find, but are generally easier for new, smaller vendors to win. Unlike the large, $25,000 and over contracts that are listed on FBO, you likely won’t find a single database listing all these contract opportunities. In order to compete for these, you’ll need to go out looking for them. Start by building up relationships with local agencies. Send capabilities statements to them and try to schedule meetings with them to discuss their goals and how your business can help fulfill them. Keep in regular contact with their office and ask to be added as a preferred vendor and notified of upcoming opportunities. Some agencies will publish advertisements for upcoming contracts in local newspapers, others contact eligible businesses directly. This is why networking is extremely important, especially for local and state contracts. If the purchasing officers know who you are, your likelihood of winning these contracts will increase exponentially.
Finally, don’t forget services such as US Federal Contractor Registration’s registration and government marketing services to be certain your business is properly registered and taking full advantage of all the resources available to help you find success in government contracting.