How Small Businesses Can Win Government Contracts

From the outside, getting federal contracts can seem very daunting to small businesses without previous experience in the federal sector.  But every day, many small businesses are finding ways to win their first federal contracts.  Understanding the obstacles and opportunities you face is a good way to begin.

According to Bill Russo, a Senior Proposal Manager at BAE Systems in Dayton, Ohio, there are eight major obstacles and two opportunities for you to consider as you think about entering the federal marketplace.  Obstacles include:

  • An intimidating world of competitors.
  • A limited track record or reputation.
  • Limited company resources to bid on federal contract opportunities.
  • Challenges marketing yourself in the federal marketplace.
  • Your lack of connections with government personnel and agencies.
  • An understanding of the complex rules and regulations that govern contract acquisition.
  • An inability to understand a Request for Proposals (RFPs).
  • The financial and record-keeping requirements for federal contracts.

These are serious problems and are difficult for many companies to overcome.  However, there are two major opportunities that should make you feel more confident:  a limitless and enduring market for your goods and services.

To begin preparing to win your first government contract, take these steps:

  • Educate yourself about the federal marketplace.  There are many good books, articles, and Web-based materials on this subject.
  • Join the Association of Proposal Management Professionals and attend local chapter meetings.  This will broaden and deepen your understanding of the bid and acquisitions process.
  • Choose RFP competitions that are restricted to small businesses.  This will make you more competitive.
  • Serve as a subcontractor to a prime contractor.  This will help give you the experience and record you need to bid on your own.
  • Establish a good reputation for trust, reliability, and services.  Experience counts.
  • Document your successes and assets.  You will need this information to demonstrate your qualifications in RFPs.
  • Consider hiring a consultant to assist you.  Working with an experienced consultant will help you become more adept at proposal development while increasing the chances of your winning a contract.  Even big, successful companies often use consultants.

Gain the knowledge you need to make good bid and development decisions.  Gain the skills and experience you need to submit competitive proposals.  New businesses are winning government contracts every day.  Now may be your turn!

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