Want to Grow Your Business? Consider Federal Government Contracts
5 Steps to Getting a Federal Government Contract
If you’re looking for new markets for your business, consider getting a Federal Government contract. This article focuses on Federal Government (“Government”) contracts but the same general principles may apply to state, county and city contracts.
To open your business to Federal Government contracts do these 5 things
1. Determine if the Government buys your product or service
Go to Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) and do a keyword search to see if the Government is looking to purchase what you sell. Do the search using keywords of your primary business and secondary aspects of your business. Think of how your business could be beneficial to the Government in determining what services or products you can provide.
Look at how private companies use what you offer and see if that can be converted to Government use.
Currently the Federal Government spends $450 billion dollars annually just on contracts. That’s a large pie that you may be able to get a piece of.
2. Register so that you can get Government contracts
First you need to figure out how the Government classifies what you sell. You do this by figuring out your North American Industry Classification System code, most commonly referred to as a NAICS code. You can find your NAICS code here by doing a keyword search for the services or products you provide.
You can and should have more than one NAICS code. The best practice is to focus on the NAICS codes that represent your primary business but also get NAICS codes for subsets of your business or in areas that are often associated with your business.
Once you have the NAICS codes get a Data Universal Numbering System number from Dun & Bradstreet, most commonly called a DUNS number. You can get one here. This creates a business credit file and is used as a way to uniquely identify your company.
Next register in SAM.Gov, which is the System for Award Management. You will need your DUNS number and NAICS codes in order to register in SAM.gov.
Registration in SAM.gov is a requirement for Federal Government Contracts.
3. Search for Government contracts
Generally requests by the Government for companies to provide products or services must be made publicly available so that all those that are interested have equal and fair opportunity to provide a response to the Government.
The Government submits requests for products or services using online systems such as the ones listed below. Register with each, search for opportunities and set up notifications to be made aware of new opportunities on these sites.
- Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) is the most widely used portal.
- General Services Administration (GSA). Consider getting a GSA schedule contract.
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration Solutions for Enterprise-Wide Procurement (NASA SEWP). This is a great option for IT products and product based services.
- National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR). This a good option for innovative, research, science, and technology based companies.
Once you find a request that is in line what your company does, submit a proposal for the services or products you offer.
If you are awarded the contract great, Congratulations!
If you do not win, request a de-briefing with the Government Contracting Officer and ask questions about why your proposal was not successful so that you can make changes for future proposals.
Also, the Government usually must provide by public notice information on contract awards. Check to see who won the contract you didn’t win. This will give you information on the pricing that was successful and in some cases the methodology used by the successful company.
This is also a method for market research prior to proposing on your first project. Using the FBO website, search for award notices for the products or services you provide.
4. Use resources available through the Small Business Administration
1. Get in touch with your local Small Business Administration (SBA) office.
The SBA has many resources to help small business owners and programs to help new businesses get Government contracts.
2. Review your record in the SBA Dynamic Small Business Search.
A record is automatically created when you create a SAM.gov profile.
In reviewing your record do the following:
- Make sure your contact information and website is included.
- Check to make sure that your company shows up for all applicable NAICS codes.
- Add in keywords that would show up in a search (think, Google SEO).
- Make sure that you fill out the capabilities statement narrative.
- Provide as much information as possible in the capabilities statement narrative on what services or products your company offers. List the services/products rather than drafting a narrative, due to the limited space available.
5. Become a subcontractor on an awarded contract
Find prime contractors, businesses who have contracts with the Government, who may need your special set of services or products.
For example, a prime contractor could be awarded a contract to provide training to the Navy. The prime contractor may subcontract for the production of the training materials.
Use FBO to find prime contractors:
- If there is a project for which your services/products are needed but the overall project is beyond the scope of what your company does, this is an ideal way to benefit from a Government contract without being awarded one.
- Search FBO for current projects and add your name to the interested vendor list so that if a potential prime contractor is looking for a subcontractor they can find you.
- If the project has a site visit go and network with the potential prime contractors
- Check out award notices and contact the prime contractor and offer your services/products
These 5 steps will get you on your way to finding and winning Government contracts.
If you want hands on assistance with getting or keeping a Government contract, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.