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Small businesses must seize opportunities provided by the Small Business Act and work with the Small Business Administration (SBA). This blog offers practical advice on finding, bidding on, and winning government contracts, emphasizing research, certifications, relationships, past performance, and competitive pricing to improve success rates.
How to do Business with the Federal Government
It is a policy of the United States Government, as stated in the Small Business Act, that "all" small businesses have the maximum practicable opportunity to participate in providing good and services to the government.
To ensure that small business get their fair share, the Small Business Administration (SBA):
- negotiates annual procurement goals with each federal agency.
- reviews each agency's results, and
- is responsible for ensuring that the statutory govern-wide goals are met.
In this blog, we provide practical advice on how to get stated doing business with the government. We provide tips to get you started and strategies to help you grow. Doing business with the government requires bidding and winning contracts. In this blog, we discuss how to find contracts that fit your capabilities, how to understand a solicitation and how to prepare a response, as well as actions you can take to improve your chances of winning.
Guide to Working with the Federal Government
Looking for a quick reference guide for doing business with the Federal Government?.
AtWork’s GovCon Growth Strategies FAQ is a great resource packed with industry best practices and best-kept secrets.
AtWork’s GovCon Growth Strategies FAQ is a great resource packed with industry best practices and best-kept secrets.
What are useful tips when trying to get started doing business with the federal government?
Getting started with doing business with the federal government can be a complex process, but here are some useful tips to help you navigate it:
Understand the Government Contracting Landscape: Familiarize yourself with the government contracting process, regulations, and requirements. Research the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) rules and guidelines.
Register in the Necessary Systems: Create accounts and register your business in the required systems. These may include the System for Award Management (SAM), the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS), and the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website.
Identify Suitable Opportunities: Explore various resources such as FedBizOpps, beta.SAM.gov, and agency-specific procurement portals to find opportunities relevant to your business. Understand the procurement methods, including simplified acquisitions, sealed bidding, and contracting by negotiation.
Obtain Necessary Certifications: Determine if your business qualifies for any certifications or designations that can enhance your chances of winning contracts. Examples include the 8(a) Business Development Program, HUBZone, Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).
Research and Understand the Requirements: Thoroughly review the solicitation documents, including the Statement of Work (SOW) or Request for Proposal (RFP). Understand the scope, requirements, evaluation criteria, and any special provisions. Seek clarification if needed.
Develop a Competitive Proposal: Tailor your proposal to the government's needs, clearly addressing all requirements and evaluation criteria. Be concise, compelling, and make sure your pricing is competitive. Consider partnering or subcontracting with established government contractors to increase your chances of success.
Build Relationships: Networking is crucial in government contracting. Attend industry events, trade shows, and small business outreach events. Connect with contracting officers, small business specialists, and prime contractors who can provide guidance and potentially partner with you.
Focus on Past Performance: Government agencies place importance on past performance. If you have prior government contracts, ensure you have good references and positive evaluations. If you lack government experience, consider starting with smaller contracts to build your track record.
Be Patient and Persistent: Winning government contracts takes time and effort. Be patient and persistent in pursuing opportunities, submitting proposals, and following up with agencies. It may take several attempts before you secure your first contract.
Seek Assistance: Take advantage of resources available to small businesses, such as the SBA's Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) and Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). These organizations offer guidance, training, and assistance in navigating the government contracting process.
Remember, doing business with the federal government requires commitment, attention to detail, and perseverance. Continuously educate yourself about the changing landscape, build relationships, and strive for excellence in your proposals and performance.
What strategies can a government contractor use to grow its business?
Government contractors can use a range of strategies to grow their business and increase their competitiveness in the marketplace. Some key strategies that may be effective for government contractors include:
Diversify Contract Portfolio: Government contractors can pursue growth opportunities by expanding their contract portfolio and diversifying their revenue streams. This may involve pursuing contracts in new industries or markets or partnering with other contractors to pursue larger contracts.
Invest in Business Development: A strong business development strategy is essential for government contractors looking to grow their business. This may involve investing in marketing and sales efforts, building relationships with government agencies and decision-makers, and pursuing opportunities for strategic partnerships and collaborations.
Enhance Operational Efficiency: Improving operational efficiency can help government contractors maximize
profitability and reduce costs. This may involve investing in new technologies or processes, streamlining operations, and optimizing supply chain management.
Pursue Mergers and Acquisitions: Government contractors can pursue growth opportunities through mergers and acquisitions. This may involve acquiring smaller contractors with complementary capabilities or pursuing strategic partnerships to pursue larger contracts.
Develop New Capabilities:Developing new capabilities and expertise can help government contractors expand their service offerings and pursue new opportunities. This may involve investing in training and development programs, hiring new talent, or partnering with other firms to gain access to new technologies or expertise.
Leverage Small Business Programs: Many government agencies offer small business programs that can help contractors grow their business. By participating in these programs, contractors can gain access to new opportunities, receive training, and support, and build relationships with other contractors and government agencies.
Overall, the key strategies for growing a government contracting business include diversifying the contract portfolio, investing in business development, enhancing operational efficiency, pursuing mergers and acquisitions, developing new capabilities, and leveraging small business programs. By pursuing these strategies, contractors can increase their competitiveness and position themselves for long-term growth and success.
What are good ways to find government contracts to bid on based on your capabilities?
Finding government contracts to bid on based on your capabilities can be a time-consuming process. Here are some good ways to streamline your search and find relevant opportunities:
Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps): FedBizOpps is the government's online portal for posting and searching for federal contract opportunities. You can search for contracts based on keywords, NAICS codes, agency, location, and other criteria.
Small Business Administration (SBA): The SBA offers a variety of resources for small businesses looking to secure government contracts. The SBA's Office of Government Contracting provides information on how to register your business for government contracts, how to find contracting opportunities, and how to bid on contracts.
Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs): PTACs provide free assistance to businesses seeking to do business with the government. They can help you identify opportunities, navigate the procurement process, and develop a competitive bid.
Networking: Networking is an important part of finding government contracts. Attend government contracting events and trade shows to meet potential clients and partners. Join government contracting associations and organizations to stay up-to-date on the latest opportunities.
Market Research: Do your own market research to identify government agencies and organizations that have a need for your capabilities. Look for agencies that have a history of awarding contracts to businesses like yours and reach out to them to express your interest in working with them.
By using these methods to find government contracts to bid on based on your capabilities, you can increase your chances of winning contracts and growing your business.
What are the primary sections of a government solicitation or request for proposal?
The primary sections of a government solicitation or request for proposal (RFP) can vary depending on the specific agency and type of contract being solicited, but they generally include the following:
Introduction: This section provides an overview of the contract opportunity, including the type of contract, the scope of work, and any special requirements or instructions.
Instructions to Offerors: This section provides instructions to potential offerors on how to submit a proposal, including the deadline for submission, the required format and content, and any evaluation criteria that will be used to select the winning proposal.
Statement of Work: This section provides a detailed description of the work to be performed, including the tasks to be completed, the expected deliverables, and any specific requirements or standards that must be met.
Performance Work Statement (PWS): This section is similar to the statement of work but focuses on the performance requirements, such as the quality of work, timeliness, and responsiveness to the customer's needs.
Technical Requirements: This section outlines any technical specifications or requirements that must be met, such as minimum qualifications or certifications for personnel, software or hardware requirements, or specific security or privacy measures.
Contract Terms and Conditions: This section describes the legal terms and conditions of the contract, such as the period of performance, payment terms, warranty provisions, and any applicable laws or regulations.
Evaluation Criteria: This section outlines the criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals, such as technical capabilities, past performance, and price.
Proposal Preparation Instructions: This section provides guidance on how to prepare a proposal, including the required format and content, and any specific instructions for submitting the proposal.
Contracting Officer Contact Information: This section provides contact information for the Contracting Officer, who is the government representative responsible for overseeing the procurement process and managing the contract.
It is important for contractors to carefully review and understand each section of the solicitation or RFP to ensure they are able to meet all requirements and submit a competitive proposal.
What are the key factors to developing a winning proposal when bidding on a government contract?
Developing a winning proposal when bidding on a government contract requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of the customer's requirements. Here are some key factors to consider when developing a winning proposal:
Customer Understanding: Understand the customer's needs, requirements, and evaluation criteria, and tailor your proposal to address them. Consider researching the customer's mission, goals, and values to align your proposal with their objectives.
Competitive Intelligence: Conduct competitive intelligence to understand your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, and position your proposal to highlight your unique value proposition and competitive advantage.
Compliance: Ensure that your proposal meets all compliance requirements, including regulations, laws, and instructions. Consider working with legal and compliance experts to review your proposal and ensure that it is compliant.
Technical Approach: Develop a detailed technical approach that addresses all of the customer's requirements and clearly explains how you will meet them. Consider using diagrams, charts, and other visual aids to enhance clarity and understanding.
Management Approach: Develop a detailed management approach that explains how you will manage the project, including project organization, staffing, risk management, quality control, and communication.
Past Performance: Highlight your past performance on similar projects, and provide references and testimonials that demonstrate your ability to deliver high-quality results.
Cost Proposal: Develop a detailed and competitive cost proposal that meets the customer's budget and provides value for money. Consider using cost models, cost estimating tools, and other techniques to ensure that your pricing is accurate and competitive.
Proposal Writing: Write a clear, concise, and persuasive proposal that is well-organized and easy to read. Consider using a proposal writing process that includes multiple reviews and revisions to ensure quality and accuracy.
By considering these key factors when developing a proposal, you can increase your chances of winning the government contract and delivering high-quality results to the customer.
AtWork Business Managed Services for Government Contractors
We help companies bid and win more work with the federal government.
Services include Accounting, DCAA Compliance, Project Management, Easy Rate Estimation, and Bidding.
What can be done to improve your chances of winning when bidding on a government contract?
There are several things that can be done to improve your chances of winning when bidding on a government contract:
Research the agency and the opportunity: Before submitting a proposal, it is important to research the agency and the specific opportunity to understand their mission, goals, and requirements. This will help you tailor your proposal to meet their specific needs and demonstrate that you have a deep understanding of their business.
Build relationships with the agency: Developing relationships with the agency and its key personnel can help you better understand their needs and position your proposal for success. Attend industry events, participate in agency outreach events, and reach out to agency personnel to learn more about their needs and interests.
Focus on past performance: Past performance is a critical factor in many government contract awards, so it is important to highlight your experience and success on similar contracts. Provide concrete examples of your achievements and outcomes and provide references that can speak to your performance.
Price competitively: While price is not always the deciding factor in government contract awards, it is still an important consideration. Make sure to price your proposal competitively, while still providing high-quality services or products that meet the agency's needs.
Be responsive and timely: Respond promptly to agency requests and questions and submit your proposal on time. Make sure your proposal is clear, concise, and easy to understand, and address all of the agency's requirements and evaluation criteria.
Consider partnering with other companies: Partnering with other companies can help you leverage complementary capabilities and expertise and provide a more comprehensive solution to the agency's needs. Look for opportunities to team up with other companies that have a strong track record and reputation in the industry.
By following these tips, you can improve your chances of winning when bidding on a government contract. However, it is important to note that the procurement process can be complex and competitive, and success is not guaranteed. It is important to approach each opportunity with a strategic and realistic mindset, and to continuously learn and improve your approach over time.
AtWork Systems designed OneLynk to enable GovCon's to navigate through the challenges of growing a GovCon business by providing a DCAA compliant ERP system to deliver exceptional performance. While a government contractor is maturing in the government market, as either a prime or subcontractor, OneLynk is there to instill the processes and systems needed to help achieve government compliance. AtWork Systems offers fractional subject matter experts - across functions like accounting, HR, financial, contract and project management - to help startups step out on the right foot or to help more mature firms transform ad hoc or inadequate processes into higher levels of performance. The combination of AtWork Systems' OneLynk and associated professional services is available as a comprehensive, secure, and affordable means of gaining the competitive advantage.
Learn More About AtWork Systems
AtWork Systems is an Arlington, Virginia based managed services and software development company. Its principals have decades of experience doing business with and working for federal, state, and local government. They developed OneLynk as a configurable and scalable SaaS platform that digitizes and optimizes processes while providing just in time business intelligence for decision making. OneLynk contains a suite of easily configurable web applications for automating and monitoring business transactions, including: human capital management, accounting, timekeeping, expense management, procurement, contracts and project management, payroll services and more. Discover the latest ERP System for Government Contractors at www.atworksys.com.