ENTREPRENEURSHIP / FEB. 04, 2015
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How to Get Government Contracts for Your Business in the US

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According to the US Small Business Administration, Federal regulations dictate that small businesses must be awarded 23% of all principal contract dollars. There are three basic steps that a small business owner must take in order to obtain a government contract. The process begins with familiarizing oneself with Federal regulations. Then the small business owner must register with the Federal Government’s contract program. The third step is to apply for contracts of interest for your business. This article will address how to get government contracts for your business in the US.

Factors to Consider When Beginning the Process

Any business owner who wants to register to receive government contracts must first ascertain whether or not they qualify as a small business. There are specific size standards which have been established by the US Small Business Administration that you need to abide by. Basically, the size standards pertain to the number of employees in the last year or the average annual receipts during the period of the last three years. When an owner registers for government contracts through the System for Award Management (SAM), the business is self-certified and the review process can begin. All Federal agencies are required to abide by the SBA size standards when distributing contracts. A second factor to consider is that due to this requirement, a business owner must select the specific NAICS codes that best describe his business. To ascertain whether or not you qualify as a small business owner, utilize the SBA size standard tool.

The Three-Part Process

The three-part process for obtaining a government contract for your small business is discussed below.

1. Familiarize Yourself with the Regulations

Once you have confirmed that you qualify as a small business owner by the SBA, you need to familiarize yourself with the regulations in regards to obtaining Federal contracts. There are several differences between Federal and commercial contracts, so you need to understand the variances and be prepared to deal with them. Those differences are listed below.

  • Government contracts have a longer lead time than commercial ones.
  • Regulations regarding the amount that you can subcontract, what types of products you provide and the way in which you interact with other companies is different—and usually more strict—with Federal contracts than with commercial ones.

There are times when these types of regulations can actually help small businesses because when several small businesses are competing for a contract, the government can then limit the competition to only small businesses. However, this is provided that the businesses offer fair and reasonable prices. For more information on Federal Acquisition Regulations, visit Acquisition.gov. You need to diligently research which government agencies are seeking the goods and services that you provide. Visit the Federal Business Opportunities information board at FBO.gov. Each agency has a specific listing of what contracts they are forecasting at the Federal Procurement Data Base at FPDS.gov. For more information regarding GSA schedules, visit GSAAdvantage.gov

2. Register with the Federal Government

After you completely understand the regulations, you need to then register with the Federal Government. If you want to do business with the government, that will not happen unless you are registered online. This process begins by registering with the System of Award Management (SAM) at SAM.gov. The online system is user-friendly and you will be guided through the entire process. There are government programs available under the Small Disadvantaged Business Program. You can find out more information regarding these programs—Women-OwnedHUBZone or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned—at SBA.gov and VetBiz.gov.

3. Apply for Current Contracts 

The third step involves monitoring the current contracts listed online and then applying for any contracts that you are interested in at FBO.gov. The Federal Government announces requirements of greater than $25,000 at the FBO.gov website. Every Federal agency has an Office of Small & Disadvantaged Businesses Utilization (OSDBU) and these offices are strong advocates for small businesses. Do not hesitate to utilize these offices for assistance. For more information, check out the OSDBU.gov website. Additionally, there are technical aspects of government contracts that can become confusing for the small business owner. However, there is help available with this issue through Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs). For more information on PTACs, visit APTAC-US.org.

Obtaining a Federal Government contract for your small business can seem like a daunting task. However, as discussed in this article, there are a wide variety of online resources and agencies available to assist small business owners with the application process.

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