According to Barbara Kasoff, President and CEO of Women Impacting Public Policy, Inc. a nonprofit, bi-partisan public policy advocacy organization (and one of the top 3 most powerful non-profits in Washington, D.C.), the U.S. Government needs the assistance of U.S. business owners – and what a great way grow their business.
Doing business with the Government is a new opportunity for many small business owners. However, many small businesses are missing an opportunity they ought to explore, says Barbara. “If your company sells pencils, erasers or toothbrushes or if you have a training company and put together training, these are all products and services that the Government is buying.” Whatever you have in your company, the Government may need it.
The question is: are you prepared to sell to the Government? Before you walk into the door and try to sell your products or services to one of the biggest entities around, you must be ready. Get ready by:
???Targeting the Right Agencies. Find out what agencies are buying and if they are buying what your company offers. The right research upfront can save you a ton of time and effort. Remember to research the price points so that when you submit your bid, you’re on target and competitive with other bids.
???Building Relationships. Seek out and get to know the decision makers in those agencies so when a request comes in, they are familiar enough with your company and will give you a call to submit a bid for the work or product or call you for a referral.
???Being Prepared. Like the Girl Scout Motto states, “Be Prepared.” Set yourself up for success and this includes making sure your collateral material is spot on. Make sure your marketing plans, references, and capability statements are clear and in line with the bid.
If you’re ready to grow your business this way, the first steps include:
Visit the government contracting site at http://www.CCR.gov. It takes about 15-20 minutes to register and this is how you are found and ultimately how you will be paid once you secure a bid.
Research which agencies are buying.
Make a note of who does what at each agency and keep a spreadsheet of those contacts. Visit http://www.fedbizopps.gov to jump start your research. Research now will pay off later when you enter the bidding process.
Network Your Way to Doing Business with the Government.
There’s no place like home. Start networking into the decision makers at the field level. Each state has Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC). Contact your PTAC Representative in your local area. Visit these offices to get free one-on-one mentoring on how to do business with the Government. Knowing your PTAC Representative has its advantages. They become your best advocate. You want them to know you well enough so that when a request comes around, you’ll be on the list of potentials to submit a bid.
There are a number of local events they host and make a point to attend. They will direct you to their counterparts in Washington D.C. Once a quarter visit Washington, D.C. and get to know the contracting officers and contract managers.
Be a Resource for your PTAC Representative
One of keys to effective networking is to become a resource. When you get to know your PTAC Representative, make yourself available when they call you for a referral to participate in the bidding process. It’s a great way to help out your other network partners by connecting them to your PTAC Representative. When you make your PTAC Representative’s job easier by supplying them with referrals, they appreciate it.
Think About Subcontracting
You don’t always have to be the prime supplier for a government contract. If you don’t think you can fulfill the entire government contract, look at contracts where you can subcontract pieces and partner with others who can fulfill other parts.
Never Exaggerate or Lie
The government checks on the details of your bid so make sure you’re above board on the content. If you say you can fulfill the contract, make sure you can!
Doing business with the government is a long-term strategy for most businesses. It takes times to cultivate those relationships and the cycle is often 1 1/2 to 2 years before landing a contract, but the private sector cycle can be just as long. Starting now will yield results for your future.
For more information on doing business with the government, listen to my Navigating Change Radio Show segment with Barbara Kasoff at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/navigating_change.
Lisa Mininni is Best Selling Author and President of Excellerate Associates, home of The Entrepreneurial Edge System, the only national curriculum taking a systems approach to profitability. For tips and techniques to jump start your business, visit http://www.freebusinessplanformat.com