Whether you are new to federal contracting or already making federal revenue, the process is still a series of steps to help you achieve your federal government sales goals.
Before I created the GovCon Chamber, I was a small business owner for 20 years, building two successful technology firms selling to the federal government. For years, I won subcontracts with small and large prime contractors and prime contracts with both defense and civilian agencies.
But there was no real process to follow and small businesses were only being told WHAT to do, but not HOW to succeed. Eventually, I switched focus and started a mission to teach small businesses the easy-to-follow process that leads to predictable success.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a new small business, a successful business just new to the federal market, or a successful federal contractor looking to go into a new agency, the path is the same.
STEP 1 | COMPLETE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS PROFILE
Your Small Business Profile includes (the combined fields within your SAM.gov and its DSBS companion pages). This is the most important thing you can do – no matter how big your company is.
STEP 2 | CREATE AN EFFECTIVE “Six-Second Capability Statement”
To be read and understood in 6 seconds and designed to be “findable” by federal buyers. It does you no good to have it sit on a hard drive and not be seen by anyone.
STEP 3 | Small Business Development Center | SBDC
You can build an unofficial (government funded) ‘Board of Advisors’ starting with your local SBDC. If you establish and then maintain a relationship, these people will be committed to helping you succeed.
Your SBDC counsellor can review your small business profile and capability statement and may able to make introductions within other small businesses and government agencies.
STEP 4 | Women’s Business Center and Veterans’ Business Opportunity Center
The women’s business centers are partially funded by the SBA and open to meeting with any small business in their area.
Both the women’s center and veterans' centers can help with introductions to small businesses who might become teaming partners.
STEP 5 | PRIMARY AGENCY or primary target customer that buys what you sell.
Once you are clear about what you sell and your core competencies, you need to choose a primary agency to target for your business development activities.
STEP 6 | APEX ACCELERATOR PROGRAM Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC)
The mission and strength of the APEX Accelerator Program is to help you identify and pursue federal contracts. They can also make introductions to other small businesses in the federal market, as well as to large prime contractors and agency buyers.
STEP 7 | AGENCY PORTALS
In addition to DSBS, several federal agencies and large primes use their own internal systems for tracking procurement ready vendors
Register in as many as you can. Even though they’re not all your primary agency, being in the system can help get you found by federal buyers.
It should take no longer than 15 minutes for each agency. Do one a day, and you’ll be done within a month without too much effort.
A free list of portals and supplier directories is available at the GovCon Chamber homepage.
STEP 8 | SMALL BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS
Now your network can expand to include federal agencies. Your first meetings will be short, just 15 -30 minutes max, and then you’ll just keep following up as needed to maintain a relationship.
Small Business Administration’s Business Opportunity Specialist
These local professionals are the primary advisors to 8a small businesses and minority-owned businesses. Their job is helping those firms grow and develop federal business.
Introduce yourself, develop a long-term relationship and ask for introductions. These professionals, ironically, are the most underused and overworked folks in the SBA.
STEP 9 PROCUREMENT CENTER REPRESENTATIVES or PCR
PCRs are the hidden gems of the SBA. They know all the contracting offices within their area of responsibility and can help you get into agency doors. Have a quick intro meeting and share your Capability Statement. You’re not getting any business to start, but you will develop a new relationship that can be very helpful in the months and years ahead.
STEP 10 | SMALL BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS IN YOUR PRIMARY AGENCY
Your long-term relationships can begin as simple as a first introduction with Small Business Specialists
For example, the Navy has over 100 small business specialists. Use the GovCon Chamber Directory of Federal Small Business Specialists to find the ones who support contract opportunities related to what you sell.