The largest US Government supporters are the businesses of this country. They supply it with various products and services, fulfilling all their needs. This phenomenon occurs through a process called Government Procurement or Federal Contract.
Every year, the government issues hundreds of bids opportunities seeking certain services and products from private sector companies. To award contracts, the Government uses a competitive approach in order to maintain the integrity of the federal procurement process. In this way, businesses strive to improve the quality, while the government is able to profit from lowering the cost of spending due to high competition.
The winners of the contracts have many benefits from these procurements. However, the process to achieve this status, to become a Federal Contractor, is very long, complex, and quite challenging. This is especially true for small businesses.
The federal government spends about $500 billion each year on contracts, 23% of which are set-aside for businesses that fall under one of the categories of SBA Small Business Set-Asides.
Many small businesses find Federal Solicitations very confusing and are not sure when it comes to their participation in this competition. Nevertheless, the Government has secured many resources to guide small businesses throughout this process.
Requirements to Qualify as a Competitor
All businesses must qualify to become a Government Contractor. Bidding for federal contracts means a lot of documentation, regulations, and details. However, this is not a reason for small businesses to feel intimidated. On contrary, there are programs designed to help these businesses compete for prime contracts in a trouble-free way.
Get a DUNS Number & Find Your NAICS code
The very first step you must take is to register for a DUNS number, which is a unique nine-digit identification number for each physical location of a business. After your registration, you need to match your business with a NAICS code, depending on the type of products/services that you provide.
Get SBA Set-Aside Certified
The next step is to get educated about your rights and opportunities. For example, you can certify to as a set-aside under one of the categories and benefit from the status. Federal agencies are obliged to reserve contracts for small businesses that are certified in the SBA’s contracting programs. Check it out if your business belongs to one of the below-listed programs:
- Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB)
- Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB)
- 8(a) Business Development Program
- Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone)
- Small Disadvantaged Business Program
- Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP)
Register in SAM
Another important and inevitable step for small businesses that want to participate in government contracting is to register in System for Award Management (SAM). This will help you become a visible business so that federal agencies can easily find you. Moreover, using SAM you’ll certify as a set-aside, and prove your eligibility to win contracts under SBA.
How to find contracts
Federal contracts can be confusing and intimidating for small businesses, especially if one is preparing to enter them for the first time. Yet, the Government has done a wonderful job in simplifying procedures and processes as much as possible and giving the industry different tools to easily get informed about everything they need. This is also true about finding federal contracts. Here are some of the main databases where you can identify an opportunity you want to pursue.
- Dynamic Small Business Search
- Federal Business Opportunities
- GSA Schedules
- Subcontracting opportunities
Engaging in the federal contract mechanism requires a comprehensive approach, ranging from professional preparation to your company to providing skills and capability to the preparation of a proper marketing campaign.
This is a very important aspect of your competing strategy. You can market your small business directly to a government agency, showing them how your business meets all the requirements to fulfill their needs.