If you are a small business owner looking for new opportunities to grow your revenue and expand your market share, you might want to consider government contracting. Government contracting refers to selling your products or services to federal, state, or local government agencies. These projects can be a very lucrative source of income for small businesses. The government is the largest customer in the world for many industries, buying a large range of products and services. The government is a consistent, reliable source of income if you learn how to tap into their projects.
Government contracting, however, is not as simple as selling to private customers. These government contracts have rules and regulations that govern the process of bidding and performing projects. There are also requirements that you need to meet before you can even compete for government contracts. Government opportunities can offer steady work, competitive pay, and opportunities to grow your reputation and network, but how do you get started with government contracting?
Steps to Finding Quality Government Contracting Opportunities
1. Register as a U.S. government contractor on SAM.gov. SAM.gov is the official database of federal contractors and contract opportunities. You will need to provide basic information about your business, such as name, address, tax ID number, and D-U-N-S number. A D-U-N-S number is a unique identifier for each physical location of your business. You can obtain this number for free from Dun & Bradstreet.
2. Get your federal registrations and certifications in order. Depending on the type and size of your business, you may qualify for certain programs or preferences that can give you an edge in bidding on government contracts. For example, if you are a woman-owned, veteran-owned, or minority-owned business, or if you operate in a historically underutilized business zone (HUBZone), you can apply for certification from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and get access to more contracts.
3. Find opportunities that match your capabilities and interests. You can use SAM.gov to search for federal contract opportunities by keywords, categories, agencies, locations, and more. You can also set up alerts to get notified of new opportunities that fit your criteria. For state and local contract opportunities, you can check out websites like GOVCB.com or contact your state procurement or contracting office.
4. Pay attention to the terms and conditions in the solicitation. Once you find an opportunity that interests you, make sure you read the solicitation carefully and understand what the government agency is looking for and what they expect from contractors. The solicitation will include information such as the scope of work, specifications, evaluation criteria, deadlines, submission requirements, and contact information. Make sure all these expectations fit your capabilities and preferences.
5. Prepare a competitive bid that meets the requirements and deadlines. Your bid should demonstrate how your business can provide the best value to the government agency in terms of quality, price, and performance. You should also include any relevant documents or certifications that support your eligibility or qualifications for the contract.
- Understand compliance requirements before finalizing your bid. There are unique reporting compliance requirements when working with government contracts. For example, payroll compliance requires you to track and report that you pay a prevailing wage in a process called certified payroll reporting. As a small business, this process can take a lot of time, which is why we suggest using something like Points North’s Certified Payroll Reporting software to help you streamline and automate parts of this reporting process. For instance, it can automate the creation and submission of certified payroll reports for federal, state, and local contracts while integrating with most large payroll systems to streamline your data.
Government contracts open a new world of revenue streams for small businesses. As long as you take the time to do your homework and prepare correctly for these contracts, they can bring in consistent high-quality projects for your company. Once you have your documentation and tools in place to succeed, you can quickly be ready to jump into these great contracts!