The U.S. Government has enormous buying power; virtually buying everything and anything you can imagine. Just today there were requirements posted for everything from cadet socks to wetland mitigation to landing gear. Right now there are more than 22,300 active federal opportunities. Small businesses can fulfill a huge portion of these opportunities (set-asides or not). But what if you’re new?
I have had quite a number of small businesses ask me how they “get in” to winning some of these opportunities. There are of course a number of factors that determine the success of a small business in the government contracting world. However, past performance is at the top of the list. But, if your company hasn’t been in business very long and don’t have much to show the government about how successful you’ve been in fulfilling similar needs, what to do?
1) Still go after the requirements you feel qualified for. You may not get them, but, if you can afford the B&P costs you still reap benefits. You are getting your name out there and you’re honing your skills at reviewing and proposing on government contracts. Both benefits are essential to really landing a contract in the future.
2) SUBCONTRACT. This is important. Prime contractors who already have figured out the government contract game will be willing to add you to their larger contract teams if you prove to them you are qualified and provide quality at the right price. Being added to a team is a lot easier than going after contracts directly. You also gain the benefit of learning from your prime and getting your name in front the government at some tier of the project/offer.
How do you find primes? Look around your industry. Which large companies are winning contracts? Who do you hear about in your market research? Attend industry days for upcoming contracts that are too big for any one contractor to accomplish. Network with those people who have listed themselves as interested parties on FBO. Look at FPDS and see what agencies are buying from which contractors. Also, don’t limit your options geographically. Government purchasing doesn’t follow state lines all the time.
Whatever you can do to add to your past performance list and record successes under your companies belt will help you for the big day for when you can legitimately compete for the big one.