By Sonja N. Hines–President, H&S Resources Corporation and Member of the Women Presidents’ Organization.
The federal government purchases products and services from just about every industry. Key points to consider when doing business with the government are starting, sustaining and scaling. Many rules and administrative regulations require implementation before business can be done.
- In order to do business with the government, you must first register your company in the System for Award Management Database (SAMS). SAM registration incorporates all government contractor information into one system. Contractors and vendors can register, file representations and certifications, and then search for contracting opportunities. A contractor enters information once, which reduces the risk of duplicating or entering conflicting information.
- Determine your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. These ID codes which identify business establishments by category are to government contractors what Social Security numbers are to individuals.
- Establish an account with the Federal Business Opportunity Database (FEDBIZOPPS) website, an internet data source about contracting opportunities & purchases the US government needs to make. It is one of some sources that post the government contracts.
- Meet with the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) representatives at Federal Agencies to introduce your company and learn how the agency procurement cycle works.
- Establish a pipeline to identify ongoing business opportunities. There are a number of products, websites and companies that are helpful. For example, our company uses GovWin which is an online government intelligence portal providing contacts, information and resources needed to create and award successful solicitations. These companies, as well as other free government resources, help you find opportunities ahead of time, have information and market analysis needed to strategically pursue an opportunity and make sure you compete in the markets that represent the best fit and increase your probability of a win.
- Review FEDBIZOPPS and other opportunity databases on an ongoing basis.
- Market your services to the appropriate agency. To increase the U.S. Department of Labor’s utilization of all types of small businesses, the Department’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) sponsors Small Business Vendor Outreach Sessions (VOS). These sessions offer small businesses the opportunity to market their capabilities directly to OSDBU and agency program officials and learn about potential Department procurement opportunities. The OSDBU develops and implements appropriate outreach programs aimed at heightening the awareness of the small business community to the contracting opportunities available within the Department. Outreach efforts include activities such as sponsoring small business fairs and procurement conferences, as well as participating in trade group seminars, conventions, and other forums that promote the utilization of small business as contractors.
- Establish a process to search for opportunities across all agencies on a regular basis.
- Be proactive: look at agency forecasts so you can contact the buyer before an opportunity/solicitation is released for bid.
- Set up a meeting with potential contracting officers.
- Participate in appropriate opportunities and submit a bid.
- Remember that persistence is the key.
- Form strategic partnerships with other firms enables you to go after work you would not ordinarily be able to pursue to increase your reach and scope.
- Make sure you thoroughly understand your company’s financials and have the appropriate back office infrastructure in place to be able to grow.
- Participate in the agency procurement cycles.
- Be sure you have enough money set aside to continue normal business operations; the average payout by the government is 45 days.
Diversify your business mix to include government and commercial work.
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