Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Steps to Start Selling to the Government

Billions of dollars’ worth of goods and services are purchased by the government each year. A big portion of these purchases come from transactions with small businesses. In fact, the government has funds set aside specifically for small businesses. Since these government funds are regulated there is a different demand and therefore requires a different go-to-market approach than does the commercial sector. The process for registration to do business with the government is a daunting task that has several requirements, but here are five steps that can get you started as a government contractor.

Step 1- Register as a Government Contractor: Fortunately, the certification process is fairly simple. First, your business must qualify to sell to the government as a “small business”. Check with the SBA to see if your business meets the size requirements for a small business. Once you qualify then you must apply for a D-U-N-S number and register your business in the System for Award Management (SAM) database. The SAM database lists all businesses in which the government can search for services and products and the companies that sell them. You must be registered in SAM before you can sell anything to the Federal Government.

Step 2- Get a Contract Vehicle: Contract vehicles are government contracts that are put in place before any individual transactions occur between the government and your business. These agreements are pre-authorization forms that lets the government purchaser know that you are an approved supplier and outlines an agreed upon pricing for your products and services. You also have the option of becoming a sub-contractor. As a sub-contractor you partner with a prime contractor who already holds a government contract vehicle. Contact the SBA for more information on becoming a government sub-contractor.

Step 3- Get Expert Advice from SBA Procurement Reps: The SBA offers numerous resources online and in the community to help you prepare to do business with the government and to guide you through the process of government contracting. Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) provide services such as training, counseling, and business matchmaking events. Online courses are also provided for businesses who are interested in doing business with the government. Other SBA support services include small business assistance programs, opportunities and resources as well as support groups for women- and veteran-owned businesses, disadvantaged businesses, and those located in economically distressed areas. To find a local PCR refer to the following link:

Step 4- Identify Your Target Market: The public sector is highly competitive which makes it hard for new businesses to enter. Finding a niche and identifying your target market is critical to success. The agencies and departments of the government have different goals and it is important that you research these specific goals and find the ones that could be a potential fit for your business. Fortunately, the information you need (i.e. goals, missions, budgets) to find your target group is available to the public. This is just one step into entering the market. You must also get out and network through industry events hosted by media organizations and private sector contractors. Make sure that you have reference customers lined up to provide to potential agencies. This will help support your proof of performance as a trusted supplier in the marketplace. Check out websites such as, or to find information on agency profiles, government spending, and current opportunities.

Step 5- Get Bidding: Once you have completed all the above mentioned steps you are ready to start researching government opportunities. Bid announcements are listed on You will also find information about the bid process on the website.    

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