Every fiscal year, the federal government contracts for over $35 billion in goods and services in Texas (www.usaspending.gov). This article is intended to help firms get a share of those dollars. The first step is to determine if this market is right for you. It is oftentimes hard for retailers to participate. As a general rule, furniture is bought in bulk from the manufacturer/distributor. So, ABC Furniture store cannot expect repeated business from this customer; whereas, a service contractor can.
Next, check the requirements at U.S. Small Business Administration. It is vital to start with a self-assessment. The best tool for this a Capability Statement. This statement helps determine and communicate the firm’s expertise, management, and desired markets. It is a one-page snapshot of your company’s unique features. There is no one form for this, so look for one that suits your business and your style.
There are a number of useful databases to assist you in procuring federal contracts:
- System for Award Management, or sam.gov, is a prime source when the government and/or large firms look for firms with which to do business.
- The SBA’s PRO-NET database, an important marketing tool. (Tip: When large contractors search the Pro-Net, they look only for the first capability listed. The list is almost endless.)
- If you have a product to sell, the Defense Logistics Agency and the General Services Administration are good places to start.
- For services/construction, Federal Business Opportunities should be monitored. To see what an agency will need in the future, search the internet for the contract forecast of that particular agency.
- Selling to the federal government can be complicated. Fortunately, the local Procurement Technical Assistance Center provides professional assistance.
Why go after federal work when the subject can be dominated by red tape? Simple, there are no bad debts. If you do the work, you get paid.
Robert C. Ramos is a graduate of Del Mar College and Texas A&M Kingsville. He retired from the Small Business Administration in 1994 and owned and operated The Gabriel Group, Inc., a DOD contracting company, until October 2014. Mr. Ramos has over 35 years experience in federal procurement as a Contracting Officer with SBA and owner of The Gabriel Group Inc.
Related article: Small Business Start-up Tips