Billions of dollars are spent by federal agencies on supplies and services every year, making them one of the world’s largest contractors.
Federal contracts give independent contractors vast opportunities, including small and medium-sized businesses looking for more options to expand their business.
The General Services Administration (GSA) established the federal supply schedule to simplify the acquisition process between businesses and the federal government. Small businesses are prioritized by the federal GSA, making it easier for them to compete with large corporations. This prioritization means that business sectors like ethnic minorities, women, and veteran-owned businesses have an advantage in this venture.
Before placing a bid, you must clearly understand where your enterprise’s offering fits best. From the federal GSA’s qualifications and requirements to the federal supply schedule where your business falls into, it is essential to know them all.
How to Determine your Qualification
Before applying to obtain federal contracts, it is imperative to determine whether your business is qualified or not. You can learn about this by checking the opportunities for the products and services that you offer. It allows you to know your market and how your products or services play a fundamental role. In this way, you can understand how your business benefits from becoming a federal contractor.
Identifying your Competition
Another thing that you need to do is to identify how saturated the market is. This opportunity helps identify your competition before getting started. You can do this by looking for companies that offer the same line of products and services in the federal market. Look for companies that hold federal supply schedules through NAICS. You have to take note of the date when they signed the contract together with the award amount.
How to Win Your First Federal Contract
As the saying goes, “knowledge is power.” The more you know about landing a government contract, the higher chances that you can receive one. Obtaining a federal contract is a months-long process that requires hard work and investment. Ultimately, you are looking at a wider reach and more significant revenue.
First and foremost, you have to maintain a solid track record that proves your worth as a business. The performance of your business over the past years reflects your reputation and the quality of your offerings. Contracting officers acquire your previous reviews to confirm if you can deliver what you market. Here are some ways to collect good reviews that can solidify your track record:
Working as a Subcontractor to Prime Vendors
Prime vendors are the large corporations that are on the federal supply schedule. More often not, the federal GSA requires them to collaborate with small businesses and subcontract portions of their enterprises. Teaming up with prime vendors can help you earn experience with the government marketplace as well as revenue.
Getting into the Simplified Acquisition Program
The Simplified Acquisition Program contains comprehensive information on subcontracting opportunities and prime vendors. This program is for contractors looking for federal supply schedules worth between $2,500 and $150,000. Simplified acquisition contracts are given to small businesses to win federal contracts without having to place a bid.
Enrolling in the Simplified Acquisition Program allows businesses to access the following:
- System for Award Management (SAM) Registration
- Official Government Profile Creation in Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS)
- Monthly Email Bid Notifications and Contract Support
- Complete Government Business Plan with Direct Access to Buyers and Prime Vendors
- Website Creation in Standard Federal Format
- Training for the Simplified Acquisition Environment
Ability to Provide Emergency Services
- A procurement officer can award a contract to qualified businesses under certain circumstances:
- The contractor cannot provide services or products at the specified time.
- The need is immediate but not under contract.
- It would take less time to complete the task than placing bids.
In other words, being available to emergency services gives your business more chances to win a federal contract. This skill can also be a valuable addition to your past performance record.
Letting Procurement Officers Know that You are Available for Emergency Work
Here are the steps that you need to take to position your business to emergency services:
- Register to the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS)
- Your SAM registration must include the fact that you are accepting state and local contracts. It should also have details about your insurance and bonding.
- Reach out to federal agencies that are potential buyers of your offerings. Inform them of your availability to fulfill emergency services.
- Keep your lines open for the task offers. Procurement officers often call the next business on the list if no one is on the line.
Federal Government Elevator Pitch
Another way to win a federal GSA contract is through a good elevator pitch. Your pitch should not take more than 30 seconds, including all the information needed to bring your business in a better light. The elevator pitch is given to a federal contracting officer in person or over the phone. It should include the following:
- Information about your Business
- Your Products and Services
- What can you do for the federal government?
- Information about the services you offer, do you provide emergency work? For prime vendors, can you work with small business contractors?
- How do you distinguish your business from your competitors?
After making the pitch to a federal contracting officer, it would be best to send them an email. The email must involve the summary of your elevator pitch and a personalized message to the officer. Finally, it is crucial to have your vendor seal attached to authenticate the message.
Government contracting is a lucrative yet rewarding task as long as you know what you are doing. Otherwise, you are bound to waste your time and money on nothing. Make sure that you know all have the requirements before deciding on pursuing a federal supply schedule. There may be times when your business is not yet ready, or the market is too saturated for you. As soon as you overcome the tedious process, long-term opportunities await that can contribute to your business growth.