Finding Federal Government Contracts for Beginners
- October 16, 2017
- Posted by: Abelmark
- Category: Getting Started in Government
The federal government acquires over $100 billion annually from contractors. Just like any other business or organization, the government needs to purchase these goods and services regularly in order to function effectively.
One place to start finding opportunity is in the Federal Budget. Federal agencies are required by law to create written budgets annually detailing exactly what they intend to purchase and the funds they have allocated for those purchases. And the best news for business owners? Those budgets are available in the public domain through the Office of Management and Budget website. If you’re willing to dig in and do some research, you can get the inside scoop on your prospective customer’s strategy and goals for the contracts you’re proposing as you prepare your bid.
If you are new to federal contracting, you will also need to register your firm on the System for Awards Management (SAM). You can locate more detailed information and register at sam.gov. Beyond registering on sam.gov to allow government agencies to seek out your small business, there are also active steps you can take to identify government contracting opportunities that would be a fit for your company’s products or services. Here are the several important means you’ll want to use to find government contracts for your small business.
The Federal Business Operations site (fbo.gov) is your go-to resource for all currently open opportunities for contracts with the federal government valued at $25,000 or more. In addition to searching current opportunities, you can also use the site to view previously awarded contracts, which may help you with preparing future proposals.
Marketing Directly to Agencies
If you’re in a very specific industry or know exactly which government agency your small business is most suited to contract with, you do have the option of marketing your firm directly to either targeted agencies or prime contractors. To do this, you would use FedBizOps (www.fbo.gov) and the Federal Procurement Data System (fpds.gov) to identify existing and upcoming procurement needs. Then you create a short presentation tailored to that targeted agency or prime contractor that shows why your company is the right choice to fill that need. Finally you are ready to communicate directly to those agencies
Direct contact and one-on-one meetings are ideal, but federal customers are often too busy to meet in person. Opportunities to connect with agency decision-makers are available through procurement conferences, industry events, and even contract matchmaking events.
Even if an agency doesn’t have a current contract opening, take advantage of direct marketing opportunities to help your business establish a presence among these targeted agencies in the government contracting community. Over time, this can help brand your firm as a go-to partner in your line of work. Check out the agency websites and local SBA District Office sites to find meetings and events in your community that may involve your target agencies.
Prepare Your Government Contract Proposal
Though you likely have extensive experience creating proposals and scope of work orders for prospective clients in the private sector, little can prepare you for the unique process of preparing government contract proposals. In fact, completing a bid or proposal for a government agency may be more akin to completing your taxes or a stack of forms to purchase a home.
Even so, there are plenty of opportunities to share your unique value add and let your business shine within the pages of your proposal—as long as you fit within the confines of the agency formats and expectations of the specific Request for Quote (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP).
Commit to Building a Federal Business
There’s no denying the learning curve involved in entering the government contracting space. But as with everything else you’ve taught yourself and learned as a small business owner, procuring government contracts is absolutely a skill that you can learn.
Do a lot of research, find your lane, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from a federal contracting expert. Through an investment of time and effort, you can expand your small business into the lucrative world of government contracting!