Federal contracts come to about $500 billion each year.
This is money that is going to many small businesses that know how to navigate through the complicated and often long winded waters of getting a federal contract. To be successful at bidding for government contracts, you need to think of Uncle Sam as one big corporation. Like any big corporation, there are regulations, processes and standards to adhere to when it comes to procurement. Here is how you can get yourself noticed and increase your chances of landing a federal contract.
Step #1: Apply for your NAICS Codes
NAICS (North American Industry Classification System) is a series of codes and keywords that group businesses into different categories.These groups include businesses that use the same production process for their output. By ensuring that your business is coded correctly, you can greatly improve your chances of being noticed by the various arms of the government when the time comes for the procurement of your particular goods or services.
Step #2: Visit the Small Business Administration (SBA)
By visiting the Small Business Administration (SBA) site, you can easily find out which government arm is looking to purchase what goods or services. Better yet, you can find out what their requirements are and how they go about shortlisting and eventually choosing the small business with which to enter into a federal contract.
Step #3: Obtain a DUNS number
The federal government, just like any other big corporation, has put in place checks and controls that allows it to track where and how its money is used. That is what a DUNS (Data Universal Number System) does. This unique 9-digit code is specific to your business and is one of the fundamental requirements if you are to get any business from the government.
You can register for your organizations DUNS number by simply visiting the Dun & Bradstreet website.
Step #4: Register in the Central Contractor Registration System
The 'Central Contractor Registration' is quite essentially the government vendor database. This is where procurement officers from the various federal wings will come to source, research and make contact with potential small businesses that they can award government contracts to. Your first step should be to register a thorough and professionally done business profile on this database. Be sure to also do the same at the "Dynamic Small Business" search.
Additionally, include your profile in the GSA (General Service Administration). This is the government purchasing agent. By including yourself in all these databases, you are greatly increasing your chances of getting noticed.
Step #5: Start Searching for Federal Procurement Opportunities
One of the best ways to do this is by networking. You need to make yourself known to all the right people. This involves attending the frequently held government procurement conferences as well as seminars. Finding the industry players such as the GSA and registering through the CCR, you can slowly make yourself a formidable force. The government has 230,000 authorized purchasers who can spend between $3,000 - $20,000. Market yourself to these purchasers and be sure to maintain a cordial relationship throughout.
Federal contracts take, on average, 18-24 months to land. It is a numbers game and takes a great deal of patience. The good thing is that once you land your first contract, the chances of acquiring another one increase. So long as you maintain a good reputation.
Get more career and business advice from Sylvia via her blog sylviabrowder.com as well as nawomenrise.com!