Getting Your First Government Contract – 3 Tips You Should Know
Securing a government contract could seem like the answer a pray for a small business owner. The idea of having an opportunity to deliver products and services to the largest customer in the world would be great for current and future business. You would think “man” I could do this with the revenue or that with revenue; the fact that this single customer could change your life is overwhelming. It is no wonder that many small business owners set out on an odyssey to become a federal contractor. I choose the word odyssey because the process to winning your first government contract will be an adventure colored by hardships and lasting experience. Yes I ripped the rose colored glass right off your face when I said there will be hardships in trying to win a government contract. That is a fact, but you can lessen those hardships and avoid the pitfalls by considering the following three things.
Step One – Government Contract Education
If you want to really pursue a government contract first educate yourself on the topic. You will find a litany of resources, but be warned that not all available information is trustworthy or up to date. You could spend an infinite amount of time researching the topic of government contract, which you can now see how appropriate the term odyssey is when you start the research process.
There are few free federal resources available to you such as your local APTAC office. This agency is designed to help businesses seeking to compete successfully in federal, state, and local contracting. They have their own internal review process, but the outcome is to help you find the right fit for government contracting.
This is a great place to start, however in order to really take advantage of their service especially for federal contracts you need to be properly registered as a federal contractor.
Step Two – Devise a Plan
Now that you are properly educated and registered as a federal contractor you now need to devise a marketing plan. The federal government is no different from any other customer so a well planned sales and marketing strategy is a necessary tool. A targeted approach will be required as you create a marketing plan in order to win your first federal contract. Although most people think of the federal government as a single entity, however the government is comprised of hundreds of agencies. Each agency operates independently, but must adhere to the same purchasing policies and procedures.
Step Three – Execute the Plan
Whatever sales and marketing plan you devise make sure you construct a schedule and process to execute your plan. A great way to put your plan into action is to attend a small business conference supported by a federal agency. You can find information about federal events or shows by checking out a particular agency website. Each agency should have an Office of Small Business Disadvantage Utilization contact which you can contact to find out specific information. Often agencies will sponsor networking events and conferences that will allow the small business community to meet government buyer face to face. What better way to test your marketing and sales plan than to talk directly to the decision maker!
Government Contract – Summary
Winning your first government contract will change your small business and in some way even how you do business. How you sale and market to the government is a bit different than to a commercial customer simply because the government buyer are required to work with small businesses. I don’t know a single commercial customer that must set aside a portion of their business for a specific vendor so pursuing a government contract is worth the chase.
Shawn Herring has more than 10 years of experience as a small business owner and is an active and successful federal contractor. Though her website AccesstoGovernmentCash.com she able to offer support and guidance for small businesses hoping to become federal contractors.
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