There are currently nearly 100,000 contracts listed on beta.SAM.gov; the Fed’s free-to-use official site for listing contracts exceeding a $25,000 payout or higher that currently up for bid. The process can be rather arduous for a small or medium size business to navigate successfully. However, the obvious win at the end of the day is a warm, cushy, and rather secure contract you can bank on for the duration of said contract.
Here are some great tips to help you get started in the world of government contracting:
1. Register your business
This should be obvious, but bears mentioning. The federal government will not award contracts to businesses that don’t have a current federal tax ID number.
Next, you need to register the business with Dun & Bradstreet and get what’s called a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. DUNS is a 9-digit unique identifier which is used by lenders and prospective business partners (in this case, the government) to predict your financial reliability. You won’t be able to bid on any contracts without this number.
2. Register with SAM
The federal System for Award Management is the government’s centralized registration database for businesses to register and do business with their various agencies. You can also research for opportunities on the site, and look through their records to vet potential business partnerships with other companies. Registration is free and they have a help section available for those new to government contracting.
Currently, SAM.gov is considered as a legacy system, which will be replaced by the beta.SAM.gov in the near future. For registration, you need to use https://secure.login.gov/
3. Use femininity to your advantage
Minority owned businesses, particularly female owned businesses, are highly encouraged in government contract work in 2017 and beyond. While this might get a few men angry, the scales have tipped and the Feds definitely understand the unique advantages of doing business with female entrepreneurs.
The WSOB is an arm of the SBA that can help you apply for and get government contracts for your business.
4. Get your in by subbing for existing contract holders
A stark reality that many SMBs don’t know going into government contract work is that several medium and large corporate companies use their size and connections to their advantage, securing Federal and local government contracts with the sole purpose of farming that work out to other companies (for an obvious fee). Don’t let this get you down.
Subcontracting for one of the big boys will help educate you on all the eccentricities involved with this kind of work, while also offering networking opportunities with government officials, and creating connections with people who can help you get your own long-term contracts signed.
Check out sites that list companies willing to work with subs like the SBA’s Sub-Net.
5. Hit up government procurement conferences
Last but certainly not least in the ways you can work toward inking a deal with a government agency is the annual Government Procurement Conference. If you need an education in everything government contracting, this is the only place to be this and every other spring.
Once at the conference you can mingle with state and federal procurement officials, tour the various demonstration booths, listen to keynote speeches, network with other entrepreneurs, and indulge in whatever catering fare is offered any given year. Many success stories have been written starting at these procurement conferences, don’t cheap out on attending this event!
Landing your first contract isn’t likely to be the easiest thing you’ve ever attempted in business. However, once that first contract is signed and you’ve successfully satisfied your obligations, it does get easier each time you apply. When things get tough, use the tips listed above and most important: Don’t give up!