Federal Contracting: Getting Your Foot in the Door
Written by Nancy Dahlberg on April 22, 2019
If you are a small business that has determined federal contracting may be right for you and you have identified some potential contracts to pursue, you need put your best foot forward to get in the door.
By now we hope you have read our two previous posts about whether federal contracting is right for your business and on researching contracting opportunities. If it is time to get your foot in the door, many of these tips will also be helpful if you are going after state or local government contracting opportunities also.
Each federal agency has a small business office (OSDBU) to ensure agencies fools small business rules and regulations – they are not buyers but should be your first stop at an agency. Brian Van Hook, associate director of the Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within FIU’s College of Business, recommends already having completed your SAM registration and having three opportunities in hand as well as your financial plan. Ask the OSDBU for an email introduction to the Contracting Officer. Ask the Contracting Officer for a capability briefing and schedule monthly marketing outreaches. Program Managers also have agency knowledge and may be able to offer value to the solution you are offering to the agency.
Be proactive in marketing your products or services, says Luis Batista, a Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center consultant who specializes in government contracting. While your ability to respond to opportunities will depend on what opportunities are available via solicitations, Batista says “proactively” marketing your products or services to Contracting Officers (where appropriate), user departments, Primes and other government contractors will be critical to your success.
One example of this would be to reach out to vendors being awarded large contracts in your area of work for subcontracting opportunities, Batista said. Another example might be to reach out to large Primes within your area of work, which you can identify via USASpending.gov.
“The takeaway here is that while you are not responding to solicitations you should be networking,” says Batista.
And about putting your best foot forward?
- Make a good first impression. Be professional (including using an email address affiliated with your website – no yahoo or Gmail accounts) and triple check for typos.
- Make sure your company website is updated and typo-free.
- Know your company’s sweet spot and lead with you and your company’s expertise and experience. Emphasize your ability to mitigate risk and overcome obstacles.
And as a quick review, Althea Harris, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s assistant district director for Marketing and Outreach Area 1 (Miami), adds this advice as you are developing your contracting strategy and considering opportunties:
Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) can provide no-cost assistance to small businesses looking to compete for government contracts, including through its BidMatch program. You can locate the PTAC closest to you at the Association for Procurement Technical Assistance Centers Website: http://www.aptac-us.org/contracting-assistance