You may have heard that GSA Contracts are really complicated to secure. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore. It is now easier than ever to secure a GSA Contract and get a portion of the billions of government dollars set aside for this program so that you can grow your small business to heights you never even dreamed of.
However, you need to make sure that you qualify and that you have the information you need before you begin this process. While it isn’t difficult, it can be time-consuming, and you want to make sure that it is a good use of your time as a small business owner.
Below, we are going to discuss what you need to qualify to get a government contract through the GSA program and what you need to know about the GSA process and its schedule categories. Let’s jump right in!
First, Do You Qualify?
There are not as many qualifications as you may think there are when it comes to securing a GSA contract. There may be a few more that certain federal agencies are going to look for, but to qualify for the program in and of itself, here is what you will need to have:
- A minimum of two years being in business
- Currently, make products that match the scope of what the government is looking for (the majority of companies already do)
- Have sold $25,000 worth of product in the first two years, and $25,000 per year every year in business after that
- Not have any major debt issues
- TAA Compliance (ensuring products come from a specific list of countries of origin)
- Letter of Supply for any products that you do not manufacture yourself
As you can see, these aren’t overly difficult qualifications. The fact is, most small businesses can easily qualify with a little bit of work if they don’t already. Once you do, you have so many new options for business available to you that you will see your company rapidly grow.
Need Help With GSA?
If you need help figuring everything out, thankfully GSA Focus is here to help! The GSA process is not that complicated, and it can be broken down into the 5 following steps:
Step 1 – Will A GSA Contract Grow Your Business?
You want to make sure that when you take on a GSA contract that it will actually benefit your business. As you are making sure, you should research whether or not federal agencies who buy what you are offering are actually using the GSA schedule program or not.
You should also make sure that you have a full view of what maintaining this commitment is going to mean for your business and if you can actually stick to it or not. You’ll have to make sure you have enough machinery, manpower, and resources to keep up with the bid. If you don’t, then it isn’t worth moving forward with.
Step 2 – GSA Offer Preparations & Submission
This is the most lengthy and complicated step of the five-step process. Here, you will make the offer and submit it. The offer package you will create will have about 23 – 30 documents. Some are simple forms, some are financial documents, and then there will be higher-level technical documents that are the real meat and potatoes of your offer. These documents will need to be completed by the most skilled and knowledgeable people on your team.
Step 3 – GSA Clarifications & Negotiations
After you submit your original proposal, you will move into the stage where the government will clarify and negotiate with you as to what the final contract is going to look like. In order to get to the end of this step, the information in your packet will all need to be consistent. This is really up to the contracting specialist that is assigned to you, and what they decide will determine the outcome. You will negotiate in the following areas:
- Assurances that Terms and Conditions are understood
- Negotiating the discounts for the GSA contract
- Preparing the final document to cement the terms of the GSA Contract
Step 4 – GSA Registration
This is the final step of receiving your GSA contract. When you are offering a product, you can use GSA advantage as a marketing tool. When you’re offering services, you should use GSA E-Buy. The GSA E-Library is also a good collection of landing pages for all the GSA contract holders so you can see what other small businesses are doing. There are also GSA reverse auctions were federal buyers can post what they need and GSA contract holders are the only ones that are able to view and bid on these government-funded opportunities.
Step 5 – GSA Contract Management
You are going to want to make sure you are always preparing to win more federal contracts once you have secured your GSA contract. You will need to have all your set-asides in order, make sure that you are always attending networking events, always applying and following up with bidding opportunities, and making the best proposals you can make. This will take a lot of discipline, but when it comes to GSA contracts you are going to get what you put into it. When done correctly, having a GSA contract can rapidly expand your business and allow your business to rapidly grow while building stronger core competencies that you can leverage to the private sector as well.
There Are 12 GSA Schedule Categories – Which Do You Fit Into?
As we mentioned, there are 12 different schedule categories and you will need to fit into at least one in order to get a GSA contract. However, most businesses in the US are going to fit into one of these categories. It is important to determine which category you fit into ahead of time, but you shouldn’t be too worried about not fitting into one, as almost everybody already does or can easily with a little bit of pivoting. Here are the 12 different categories, one of which your product or service will need to fit into:
- Information Technology
- Security and Protection
- Scientific Management and Solutions
- Transportation and Logistic Services
- Professional Services
- Human Capital
- Industrial Products and Services
- Office Management
- Furniture and Furnishings
As you can see, there is already a miscellaneous category, so there is already quite a bit of wiggle room when it comes to fitting into one of these categories. Thankfully, you should be able to determine if the products you offer will be popular for the GSA schedule before you go through this potentially lengthy process. As we mentioned before, doing the right amount of research ahead of time is very important.
Billions of Dollars Are Spent On The GSA Program Each Year
Not convinced that your small business should look into getting a GSA contract? It is worth knowing that once you have a GSA contract established, your company has access to billions of dollars of federal money every year. In fact, small businesses took over $120 billion from government buyers in 2018 alone. That is a lot of money that is being bid on, and your company could potentially get a portion of that once it secures a GSA contract and joins the marketplace.