Hey small business owner. Interested in an annual contracting marketplace between $350 billion and $500 billion?
Of course you are, which is why so many small business owners are looking for ways to break into the world of federal government contracts. Those Washington offices (and offices across the country and around the world) need a lot of stuff. From military vehicles to catering to paper clips, the federal government has massive operations to make it the world’s largest buyer of products and services. Because of this, the U.S. federal government has seemingly endless revenue opportunities for those who can squeeze a foot in those massive, mahogany doors.
Getting that first opportunity, however, is an enormous challenge and takes serious strategic planning. This grueling process can feel overwhelming and leave you wondering where to even begin. At Summit Strategy, however, we have decades of combined experience guiding small business owners with big dreams through this federal government maze to win game changing contracts.
Ready to turn this big government contract dream into a reality? Here are five tips to get you started.
Break into Government Contracting
1. Research, research, research:
This may seem cliché since most projects require some level of research, but there’s some specific information you need to get started to land government contracts. Start by researching government agencies that align with what you offer. Remember, you’re selling your business to fill a need, so there’s no sense in pursuing agencies that don’t need you.
Once you’ve identified the agency you want to pursue, gather all the information you can about its operations and dive deep into its procurement processes, contract requirements, contract vehicles, and upcoming opportunities. If you try to be somebody to everybody, you’ll fail miserably.
2. Certifications matter:
Credentials are everything within the federal government. The alphabet of acronyms following someone’s name determines where and what they have access to and to what projects they’ll be assigned.
Apply that same thinking to your own company credentials. All the certifications you’ve received, like 8(a), HUBZone, or Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB), are highly valued by the federal government and will likely get you noticed over competitors who don’t have them. It takes a lot of work to obtain some of these certifications, but they can open doors to set-aside contracts, giving you a competitive edge. <?p>
3. Get out there:
Remember your first high school crush? Did they know you even existed?
My guess is not because they would’ve seen how amazing you are and that you’ll one day run your own successful business where you’ll land dozens of big government deals.
The same is true for signing federal government contracts. If the people running these agencies where you want to land contracts don’t know you exist, then they don’t know what they’re missing out on.
That’s why networking is key. Attend industry conferences, government events, and join relevant professional organizations. Connect with procurement officers, prime contractors, and fellow small business owners. It’s in these relationships that can lead to valuable partnerships.
4. Focus on your frenemies:
I know this sounds like a Taylor Swift song (that would probably be awesome), but starting your journey to land government contracts can begin by working with established government prime contractors.
And while these firms might be or become your competitors, taking this step allows you to gain experience valuable past performance, showcase your capabilities, and establish a track record. One day, you’ll crush these competitors. But for now, they’re stepping stones toward securing prime contracts in the future.
5. Your marketing matters:
It may seem like the federal government is made of faceless buildings like something from the Matrix. But do you know how those faceless buildings function? There are actual, living and breathing people working in those buildings with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. That means they respond to marketing like anyone else, so you need to make sure the story you’re telling about your business is the story you want them to hear.
By leveling up your marketing efforts, you can ensure the message you’re sending has the right appeal for the people behind the agency you want to work with.
Patience, Persistence, Resilience
Now it’s time for the hard truth.
Even if you follow these tips exactly, it still may take years to work your way into signing a major federal government contract. Breaking into the federal market is very competitive and can take a hell of a long time. So it’s important to be patient, persistent, and resilient. When your time comes, the hard work will have all been worth it.
Now go get ‘em.