Yes, the government has been in 2014 for three months already now, but with the shutdown and the holidays, it seems that we’re all finally ready for 2014 to really start tomorrow. I began to think about what newer government contractors can resolve to do this year in order to make it a successful 2014. The theme turned out to be Patient Investment. So, resolve to be successful in 2014 and read on:
- Don’t fall for a scam. For some reason I am seeing more and more spams, scams and sketch artists all of a sudden. I have clients sending me multiple emails a day asking “is this real”? No, it probably isn’t. I just read a LinkedIn post about a deft scammer and I am getting quite a bit of spam in my inbox trying to sell me services that don’t sound quite right. Trust your intuition. If you get an official-type looking email out of the blue regarding your sam.gov registration, if you get a call claiming you can win no-bid contracts, if you are told you need a GSA Schedule to do business with the government, or that your government registration is incomplete (among a myriad of other “sells”), know that it is probably something to avoid. Your name was probably mined, sold and now out on the market for fly-by night companies and consultants to prey upon. Look to legitimate, well-established, and qualified companies / consultants that don’t stalk you down with slick unsolicited help. You will save a lot of money and avoid being burned.
- Invest in your future customers. It is rare that a good contract will be won out of the blue. Winning government contracts takes time, and yes, money. But, it doesn’t have to take too much of your time or your money if you approach the contract correctly. Finding which agencies are buying your products and services, who they are currently buying from, and how the agencies are buying is key. Without that baseline, you’re just shooting in the dark. Build a targeted marketing plan towards your selected agencies. Find the right folks, get your marketing materials in order, ensure you have a representative getting you out there and keeping you out there. Make contacts, team up, and keep your finger on the pulse. Be careful in who you target, how and when. You can easily go down the wrong side of the road and not realize it. Being reactive is not an option for newer contractors. Being proactive is not necessarily free, but it is an investment, and a very worthy one to say the least.
- Educate yourself. Aim to become government contract (“govcon” in this world’s speak) savvy. This resolution actually is a thread through the other resolutions in this post. If you are a newer government contractor, you will soon realize the government contracts world doesn’t really operate exactly like your commercial world. Marketing, proposals, negotiations, contracts, accounting, and compliance all have spins about them of which you MUST be aware. Without some education and guidance, you will (not may, but “will”) wander into dangerous territory. It is a sneaky thing, too because you won’t really know you wandered into that territory until years have passed. The government moves slow, and so do ramifications of not knowing government nuances. Make sure you understand the government’s procurement process, the expectations for marketing and outreach, what the government is looking for, what clauses say and mean, and what being a government contractor may change in your operational processes and procedures. Don’t learn the hard way; learn safe way.
- Team up. The best way to get your foot in the door is to find an experienced teammate. Not only will you have more exposure to the government at less cost (think lower bid and proposal costs, easy name promotion, etc.), but you can learn tons of valuable insight and information from your teammates. They (hopefully) have been around the block in your competitive arena. Sharing the costs, time and the effort of supporting a government requirement is a great way to slowly and safely graduate from a freshman government contractor. Don’t be shy about being a prime contractor, either. You can bring a large government contractor under you as a subcontractor and they can help you just as much as if the roles were reversed. Many large businesses are happy to be a sub to a small business since they want to work projects that may have been set aside only for a small business. Network with companies who are both similar to yours as well as those companies that have complimentary offerings. The government is looking for solutions; maybe your offering is a tiny slice of a bigger solution – find your team and then you find the government’s solution.
- Keep the faith. Sometimes government wins pop out of the blue, but most times it is a very (very) long pipeline. This pipeline requires patience and diligence. However, the long road is definitely worth the wait. I hear the phrase, “Once you’re in, you’re in.” I probably have to agree with that statement. Working on resolutions 1-4 above will all lead you to getting “in” and 2014 is looking like a good year; don’t be left out!
Still have more questions? Call or email Arrowhead Solutions, and we’ll share with you our insight on how to most successfully navigate 2014. Consultations are 30 minutes and completely gratis!
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