Would you like to become a government contractor or subcontractor? Government contracts can be very lucrative for a small business.

The following are six tips from Inc.com magazine:

First – Truly know your business

There are currently at least 31,000 federal contracting opportunities listed on the government’s clearinghouse website (more on that in a minute).  But, in a way, 31,000 is worse than zero—at least if it’s your role to comb through them all and figure out which ones you might want to compete.
The no. 1 bit of advice heard at the SBA training was to make sure you know your company inside and out, and understand what it is you have to offer. That can narrow the scope of your search considerably.
“Own your destiny,” said Diane Marsden, manager of the small business office at Booz Allen Hamilton. “You have to get down to a level of granularity. You have to articulate what you do.”

Second  – Be aware of your advantages before stepping into a competition

Small businesses can feel like they’re at a disadvantage when competing against larger entities. Sure, you might be more agile or customer-focused than a big organization with a matching bureaucracy, but playing with big boys can feel like a real fight.
In government contracting, however, that model can be turned on its head. For one thing, the government formally sets aside opportunities run by women, members of economically or socially disadvantaged groups, service-connected disabled veterans, and businesses located in certain underprivileged geographic areas. (Of course, there are a lot of restrictions; see each program for more details.)
Beyond that, the government tries to set aside about a quarter of its contracts for small businesses. That’s a goal, not a reality—but it sets the tone.

Third – Get comfy with all the paperwork

If you want to do business directly with the U.S. Government, your company needs to be registered with the System for Award Management database. SAM can also be an excellent tool for you as well. SAM it lets you look at how many competitors in your industry are already doing business with the government. It may give clues into what makes a company attractive to the feds, or even give you an idea about subcontractor opportunities.

Four – And we mean all the paperwork

For all the government contracts out there, landing them isn’t easy. Another way to get federal is to work as a subcontractor for larger companies. These big contractors usually maintain their databases of potential subcontractor partners, and you have to register with them separately from the government’s site. Check out the big firms’ AP diversity websites, including AT&T, Bank of America, Facebook, IBM, John Deere, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Kelloggs, UPS, and others.

Five – Check the government database

In theory, every single government contract going out for bid is supposed to be listed on www.fbo.gov, known colloquially as “Fed Biz Opps.”  Again, besides bidding for contracts yourself, keep in mind that this might clue you in on contracts that larger entities might go after. That might mean opportunities to latch on as a subcontractor.

Six – Build lasting human relationships

Sure, a government can seem impersonal, but relationships are significant. It’s easy to lean too hard on cold calls and databases. While filling out the forms is a prerequisite, get out of the office, network, and try to meet the decision-makers, both in the government and in the large contractors. And do it in person, if possible.

“Choose two or three agencies where you think you can do work,” suggested Bill Polizos, director of the small business program at AT& T Government Solutions. “Go to the events they hold so you can learn as much as you can about opportunities. As you do that, you’ll bump into us.”

http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/tips-for-landing-government-contracts.html/1

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