You have worked hard establishing your small business in the commercial market; or you have succeeded in your profession working for large enterprises. You have established yourself and you are recognized as a success by your superiors, your peers and your subordinates. Someone or something one day attracts your attention with the suggestion that the federal government may be in the market for your skills, products or services. This article will address the path to expanding your existing business or initially undertaking a business involving federal government contracts.
The best way to explore federal government contracting possibilities is to expand your business plan to include a sector for that type of business or develop your start up plan including a federal government business sector. Doing business with the Federal Government is not "Rocket Science" but it is different. It embodies a set of regulations entitled, "The Federal Acquisition Regulation" or FAR, which contain the rules by which the government and industry abide in contracting for supplies and services. The FAR had its genesis during World War II and has evolved since that time to control and regulate the ever-expanding amounts of goods and services which the federal government buys.
The following are the most important "Mechanical Steps" necessary in positioning your business to begin selling to the federal government. They are listed in the necessary sequence for becoming a supplier entity in the government system. A link to appropriate web sites is provided at each step.
A. Dunn and Bradstreet (D and B) Number Go to Small Business Tab At:
Dunn and Bradstreet Number
Establishing your D and B is free. If you do not have one, a D and B Number is necessary before you can complete a government contract registration. A D and B Number is also required for your Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) application if you intend to pursue minority- owned business certification.
If you are not already incorporated you may wish to incorporate before you set up your D and B number. Incorporation is fairly inexpensive and can be done yourself via the WEB for either a non-profit or a for-profit business.
You may download free instructions to register a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in your state from the BOX in the right margin of this site.
B. System For Award Management Web Site:
C. For application in the SBA Small, Disadvantaged Business (SDB) Program:
SBA 8(a) Program
If you qualify as a minority, follow the directions closely. Note there is a preview section which will acquaint you with the application and the types of information that will be necessary when you start the process.
D. For Historically Under-Utilized Business (HUB) Zone Information:
SBA Hub Zone Program
For information on additional set aside designations such as those for women-owned business, veterans and disabled veterans please see:
Federal Government Contracting Set Aside Designations
E. For Searches on Federal Buys:
FEDBIZOPS is the gateway for all federal business. The search tool there is a very powerful engine with many filters that are useful. It is well worth the time to learn the filters. Every federal agency is required by regulation to advertise there and you will be amazed at the products and services the federal government buys.
F. For an example of a small business capability statement check the following web site:
A capability statement is always a good idea for marketing. The link above as an example. It was found on the web in the public domain Note that the site is a SDB. Later you will get into proposal preparation and the regulations governing the types of grants and contracts, as well as billing the government for your work and other factors.
G. Questions for you:
Are you planning to produce a deliverable, distinct, end product such as software, hardware, a commodity, a report, a conference, a survey or a study, sell it to meet the government's statement of work and bill for the end product when delivered?
Are you planning to price your services at an hourly rate, sell them by labor categories with professional job descriptions to perform the government's statement of work and bill by the hour for labor and at cost for material and travel?
Answers to the above questions are key factors in how you set up your business and price your work in proposals to federal agencies. The answer to the above questions is "Yes" in both cases for some businesses. Some small businesses sell their product commercially, but contract for product implementation and support on a service contract basis.