The federal government does a tremendous amount of work with small businesses like yours. In 2017, the government spent more $100 billion in contracts to small businesses (take a look ). All contracts of less than $150,000 are required to be set aside for small business; larger contracts must also be set aside if there is reason to believe that small businesses can perform them. If your company isn’t doing business with the government, that money is going into your competition’s pocket.

Breaking into government contracting isn’t as hard as you might think. If you follow these simple steps, you will be well on your way to tapping into this vast market.

Getting started

To start with, you must take a look at your company and how it fits into the process. Answer questions like: “Am I ready for business with the government?” and “Does the government buy what I sell?”

The first step to working with any new client is market research, and the government is no exception. You will begin with finding out your NAICS code. NAICS is the North American Industry Classification System, a numerical code that identifies industries. Most purchases are classified by NAICS code, and you can use it to find out how much money is spent on your industry.

Registering

If your market research indicates that you are ready for government contracts and that there are opportunities for you, the next step is to get registered. To do business with the federal government, you must (at a minimum) be registered in the following systems:

  • Dun & Bradstreet: First you will need a DUNS number, and to get this, you register with Dun & Bradstreet. Your DUNS number will end up being the identifier that most government systems use to pull up your information.
  • SAM: The System for Award Management is the official government site to register for business with the government. It will retain your business entity information and your answers to certain contract clause questions.
  • Small Business Programs: The Small Business Administration certifies companies that are eligible for such programs as HUBZone, Woman-Owned or 8(a). These programs can help you win more government contracts.

Finding opportunities

Once you are registered and ready to go, you will need to know where to go to get lucrative contracts. The government publicizes its needs in several ways. If you want to get your piece of the pie, here are some of the best tools to get started:

  • FBO: FedBizOpps is where the government posts the lion’s share of its solicitations (RFQ, RFP, RFB), sources sought, requests for information, and announcements about awards made. This is the main point of entry into government contracts.
  • GSA: The General Services Administration is like Amazon for the government. It makes contracts that other agencies order off of, and maintains lists of sources for many goods and services. Getting on a GSA schedule can bring in a tremendous amount of business and simplify the process.
  • Sole source: If you are the only company that can meet a requirement the government has, then you can win a contract without bidding or competing. Maybe you are the only company that does what you do, or you are the only one in a given area, or you are the only company that has the proper registration or certification. The process can be a little different, sometimes more difficult, but the payoff of a huge contract that you didn’t have to compete for can make it worth the effort.
  • GPC: The Government Purchase Card can be used for purchases under the micro-purchase threshold (between $2k and $3.5K, depending on the industry). This means that for small, one-time purchases, the end user can put a good or service directly on a credit card, without a contract.

Now what?

Fortunes are made in government contracting, and yours could be next. The government is one of the largest markets in America, and to ignore it is leaving money on the table. If you don’t pick it up, you can bet your competition will. Begin developing your government-contracting program today.

If you are looking for general information on government contracting, the SBA and PTAC are great resources. If you are looking to develop the perfect government-contracting program and want personalized, hands-on guidance, contact Thinker Ventures or Titan Business Consulting for more information.