Climbing the ladder to becoming a government contractor is scary especially if you don’t know what you are doing. All of the thick documents, regulations and government acronyms can confuse anybody. What I will tell you is if you are really wanting to become a federal contractor conquer that fear and complete the process anyway. Now I won’t deceive you, you are able to complete the process on your own, but you don’t want to run the risk of making a mistake and suffer in the long run so it is always a good idea to get a helping hand wherever you can from a knowledgeable source. Most times the more difficult contracts to handle are service contracts so stop convincing yourself that it can’t be done and get moving. There are four phases to becoming a contractor; market research, registrations, apply for opportunities, marketing your business.
Market Research- Before you even jump into applying for opportunities you want to be sure that the government can use what you sell. Although the government buys just about every commodity there are some commodities that either don’t bring in a large amount of sales or are just not needed by the federal government. To do this you should register with Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS). FPDS provides an up to date research of commodities procured by federal agencies. It is available to the public and the registration is free. In FPDS you can create reports of your commodity and find out which agencies are in need of what you sell, FPDS is also a great way to check up on your competition. You can locate FPDS at www.fpds.gov. If you find that your commodity is needed you can move to the next step which is registrations.
Registration- Thank the heavens above that the government has decided to combine the CCR, ORCA and other registrations into one. Now instead of going to different websites and completing a single registration for each contractors only need to complete one registration. The newly created System for Award Management (SAM) is the one stop shop for the contractor registration process. I need to point out this registration is mandatory if you want to do business with the federal government. If you are being considered for award of a government contract agencies will be able to see key things about your business within SAM that will either make or break the decision of granting the award to your company. So if you are serious about breaking into the federal arena be sure to complete your SAM registration. SAM registration free and can be found at www.sam.gov.
Apply for opportunities- The government will not come knocking at your door because of your outstanding service or your drop to your knees products. If you want to make money you have to apply for opportunities. Contracting opportunities can be found at many federal agency portals but the more widely used bid opportunity portal is Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). FBO advertises all bid opps over $25,000 for federal agencies worldwide and get this…it’s free. Registration is of no cost to you it only requires your time and dedication. You need to be aware of the language within the solicitations posted in FBO so that you are not spending time on a bid opp that is not worth your while. If you need some tips on what that language looks like check out my previous post here. FBO can be found at https://www.fbo.gov/.
Marketing your business- As I say over and over again the government will not come knocking at your door there is a lot of work to be done in order to obtain and maintain a government contract. When it comes to marketing your business each business is going to have a different strategy. What may work for you may not work for others so devise a strategy that will effectively build your business in the federal market. Normally a business development person is required but with the cost of starting a small business many companies do not have much revenue left over to pay for a business development associate. If you are going to go at it on your own read my previous post, 3 Tips To Building An Effective Business Strategy” here.
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