15 Government Contracting Tips

I love this Wall Street Journal article “Government Contracts a Lesson in Patience” by Emily Maltby: http://tinyurl.com/24qpy2o

Here are some tips:

1. Although winning an initial contract can require more time, energy and money than some business owners can afford…[s]till, the federal government is an attractive source of money for many businesses that have lost private-sector work or clients…[use it] to counter the ebb and flow of their business…look hard at the federal market because it has money.
2.  Documentation is required to prove small-business eligibility and to obtain a number of certifications and registrations.
o Have a strategic plan of which government agencies you want to sell to
o Submit your vendor registrations to your target agencies
o Get any small business set aside certifications that you are eligible for
o Submit your certifications to your target agencies
3. Owners need to learn which agencies are best to target.
o Research which agencies are buying what you sell
4. Send your product and service codes (NAICS, PSC, FSC, NIGP) in a Capability Statement to the small business liaisons at the agencies and ask them if they have any requirements that you can help them with
5. Search GTPAC Bid Match results, iSearch, and FBO.gov to find out which agencies are buying what you sell.
6. Owners need to know how to write a government proposals.
o There is no bid proposal template because you need to follow the instructions in the solicitation
o Also, pay close attention to the evaluation criteria used to rank bid proposals and to select contract awardees
7.  Owners need to know how to network with procurement agents.
o Using your research about which agencies buy what you sell, start a contacts database
o Create a Sales process – Systematically email, call, write and visit agency contacts that buy what you sell.
o Bid on jobs you can do as a prime or subcontractor.
o Always be closing (see Running a successful sales office by Michael K McKean at Reuters Small Business website: http://blogs.reuters.com/small-business/2010/04/30/running-a-successful-sales-office/)
8. The process requires lots of patience.
o Learn the process slowly.
o Take a smaller job and don’t get frustrated by the relatively small price tag of a first government assignment.
9.  You may have to rebrand your firm.
o You want to be taken seriously as a government contractor.
10. List your product and service codes, DUNs number, and CAGE number on all of your marketing materials and on your website.
11. List your small business certifications on all of your marketing materials and on your website.
12. List your vendor registrations on all of your marketing materials and on your website.
13. Mention any work you have done for government agencies in your marketing materials (include work you have done as a employee of another firm or government agency; include testimonials and references).
14.  If you have no government work experience, consider volunteering on a job to get experience that you can list in your marketing materials and on your website.
15. You may have to tweak your business model.
o Use the research you have collected to consider whether there are products and services you should expand into or discontinue based on what you now know the government buys and sells
o But, be careful not to put all of your eggs in one basket – diversify and sell both to the private and public, government sector.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Contact Clovia at http://www.lemongrassplanning.com or follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans

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