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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

YOUR ENTRY POINTS INTO SMALL BUSINESS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING


INTRODUCTION:

"Sequestration" will have a tightening effect on the budgets for over 100 agencies making up the federal government.  However, there will be a continuing need for products and services of every type to support ongoing operations and continued progress in the technical and IT fields.

The government is being forced to evaluate suppliers who can fulfill these needs at the lowest acceptable price and still provide best value. Small business has lower overhead and G&A rates. With the budget ax falling hard, the smaller enterprise will have opportunity to perform vital functions at lower cost burdens than the larger corporations.


This article will discuss product and service venues you may wish to consider and how to conduct market research to assess your potential entry point in the small business federal government contracting venue.  


POINTS OF ENTRY

The best place to start in determining a government contracting entrance point is with successful commercial performance of services or product development. Very few, if any, commercial firms make the transition without that bridge.

From maintaining buildings to keeping the lights on, from grounds maintenance to flight maintenance, look for niches that can be pursued based on successful past performance, transitioning via industry teaming via subcontracts, partner roles with larger companies or in small business set aside orders for minor items and simpler services provided directly to the government.

The service venue is the most common entry point and services are at times the vehicles to achieve product development tailored to agency needs. Please see the following synopsis of  concepts in this area and associated links for more details on each:

Multiple Front Marketing

With the economy under duress and federal recovery funding finding its way into multiple venues across the country, the prudent small business will target agencies and teaming partners that best fit its products and services, positioning itself to acquire developing information on requirements and displaying capabilities by conveying early solutions to customer decision makers. This article will suggest techniques, approaches and tools to conduct a multi-front, targeted, requirements-driven, marketing campaign for small business federal government contracting.



There are 7 major, small business set-aside designations in federal government contracting. Below is a listing of these designations, divided into two groups, Self-Certifying at the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and those where government certification is required.
Techniques for Product Development 

This article will suggest approaches in developing a product to the point where it can be marketed in the small business federal government contracting venue. Individuals usually succeed at such an endeavor by forming a company, separating it from their personal assets and then developing the company and its product(s); even if it is only a one-person operation at the start. 
http://www.smalltofeds.com/2010/06/techniques-for-product-development-in_01.html

Teaming

While developing a government marketing plan, teaming with other companies is a productive venue for the small business. This article will convey general guidance pertinent to teaming and explore the types of teaming used successfully by small business federal government contractors.

Synergism is paramount in teaming with any size company, whether in a lead or subcontracting role. There should be technical, management and market segment similarities between you and any company with whom you are considering teaming. Your prospective team member ideally will not be a direct competitor; rather a business in a related field with whom you share a mutual need for each other's contributions in pursuing large-scale projects.

SUMMARY:

Small business federal government contracting is not rocket science - to succeed you must take what you do well in the commercial market place or what your experience leads you to believe you can plan successfully as a commercial enterprise and then apply it in a slightly different manner from a business perspective to accommodate federal government contracting requirements. Very few companies enter federal government contracting without some commercial experience and success. Very few start-ups entertain contracting exclusively to the federal government without commercial work to sustain operations while the more lengthy government procurement process is being pursued.

Federal government contracting is controlled by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Bid and proposal types are driven by the nature of the supply or service being procured. No one reads the FAR cover to cover - It is a source book for when you need it. The FAR and associated regulations are taught in only a few colleges, such as the Defense Systems Acquisition University at Ft. Belvoir and the George Washington School of Government Contracting. Very few CPA's are familiar with the US Government FAR Cost Accounting Standards (CAS) and I am not aware of any questions regarding CAS on current CPA exams. In general one must grow to understand these requirements and that usually happens by doing business under them. 



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