Securing a federal government contract can provide small businesses with limitless opportunities and growth. Government contracts have numerous advantages, but obtaining one requires business readiness and extensive industry knowledge.
In today’s article, you’ll discover how to avoid three common mistakes and get some pointers on winning government contracts bids.
1. Rushed bids
A strong bid proposal takes a long time to put together. If you prepare your proposal process in a hurry, you can make a big mistake and leave out important details. So, once you feel you don’t have enough time to commit completely, it’s best not to try and let the contract go to the other bidders.
Not bidding on such contracts is sometimes a better option than presenting a half-completed bid. Also, keep in mind that your company’s reputation and ethics are on the line, and you don’t want to ruin your company’s image. So, whether you’re in government contracting or not, always provide your best when it comes to a business agreement.
2. Bidding on the wrong project
It can be tempting to work with various government agencies in the hopes of assisting your company’s growth. However, that is not the case. It’s critical to choose the correct federal business opportunities to bid on if you want to keep your business healthy.
You don’t want to bid on a project your business cannot meet the specifications and scope. It’s also not a good idea to win too many federal contracting opportunities that you and your team can’t manage adequately and end up failing to deliver.
3. Do not market to every agency
The federal government is the largest buyer made up of thousands of purchasers, each of whom provides a variety of contracting opportunities with different incentives. Rather than attempting to win the hearts of every federal agency, it is preferable to gain a greater understanding of their interests, missions, and needs.
How to win a government contract bid?
Prepare the paperwork
When it comes to government contracts, be sure you have all of the necessary paperwork on hand. Each government contract has its own set of documents needed, so check your local government’s website and database for the official instructions, requirements, and necessary paperwork.
Here are some of the government requirements that you need to process to be qualified for government contracting
- System for award management (SAM) – any company that wants to do business with the federal government must first register with SAM.
- DUNS Number – a nine-digit number used to represent a small business, firm or big companies instantly. It’s also used all around the world to track down businesses and their financial operations.
- Taxpayer identification number – to register and apply for government contracts, small businesses must always have a code from the NAICS (North American Industry Classification System).
- Employee Identification Numbers – when launching a winning business, many business owners use their social security number (SSN). Interested parties, on the other hand, must have EINs (Employee Identification Numbers) to engage with the federal contracting market.
- Commercial And Government Entity (CAGE) code – is a five-character code specific to your business. Cage code acts as a unique identity for your organization, allowing a contracting officer and government agencies to identify you instantly.
Apply for certification
Certification enhances a company’s ability to compete for federal government contracts. The government also offers sole-source contracts and set-aside programs, but you must first submit an application to the Small Business Administration to be considered for government certification.
The government’s primary goal is to give veteran-owned, minority-owned and small and disadvantaged businesses five percent of all federal contracting funding. That is why they made the widely known 8(a) certification program.
A disadvantaged business firm can use the 8(a) certification program to:
- Participate in the set-aside and sole-source contracts offered by the program.
- Hire a Business Opportunity Specialist to help navigate the federal government contracting process.
- Form joint ventures and teaming agreement with established businesses under the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program.
- Get management and technical assistance, such as human resource training, business development counseling, business certification, marketing assistance, and high-level executive growth.
Here are some things you and your company should know to qualify for the 8(a) certification program:
- You must be a small business.
- Have never worked with the 8(a) program before.
- Fifty-one percent controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged Americans.
- Have a net worth of less than seven hundred thousand dollars, a gross income of less than $350K, and assets of less than $6 million on your financial statements.
- Demonstrate professionalism and contract completion skills.
The federal legislation specifically defines who is eligible for the 8(a) certification program, including socio-economic status according to Title 13 Part 124 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Visit the SBA’s official website to get a preliminary assessment of whether the 8(a) certification program is suited for you.
To maintain a level playing field for small firms, socially disadvantaged persons, and economically disadvantaged individuals or organizations, the federal agencies limits competition for certain contract opportunities for enterprises participating in the 8(a) Business Development Program.
Check for smaller contracts.
Let’s say you’re still waiting for your small business accreditation, but you’re looking forward to landing your first contract. If that’s the case, state or local contracts can be an excellent place to start before going on to federal contracts.
You can visit your state’s procurement office or log in to your local government official website to learn more about the registration process and open or upcoming contracts available in your state.
Research government agencies
If you are eyeing a federal contract from a specific department or agency, you shall learn more about them and understand their operations. By researching them, you can evaluate how high or cheap you can bid to win their contract opportunities .
Choose the proper solicitation.
Winning a federal contract requires identifying and bidding on the appropriate bidding opportunities type. The government has four main types of solicitations available.
- Request for Quotation (RFQ) – is a solicitation with a simplified acquisition procedure for an amount not exceeding $150,000.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) – a solicitation for bids that seeks businesses to respond to a government request. The contracting officer will review all delivery details, technical requirements, and specifications under this request type.
- Request for Information (RFI) – is a contract used to investigate and assess prime contractors’ market interest and capabilities in a specified niche.
- Invitation for Bid (IFB) – a solicitation contract that does not allow price negotiation or discussion.
Meet the standard size
Make sure your company satisfies the Small Business Administration’s minimum size requirement before submitting your proposal. The maximum size that firms and other entities can qualify as small businesses for a particular contract is defined by business-standard sizes.
Submit your bid
Before you make your bid, keep the following in mind:
- Examine the contracts thoroughly because the government buyers and contracting officers take its laws and regulations very seriously. You don’t want to get turned down simply because you overlooked a minor point on the contract.
- Understand what you are signing. Contract terms are put in place to guarantee that everything runs smoothly. The Federal Acquisition Regulation is the most common source of these criteria.
- The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) sets the rules that control the federal contracting community. You can submit your bid successfully as long as you comprehend the contract’s terms and restrictions.
If you believe that preparing and submitting the proposal is too difficult for you, you can outsource proposal team to save time or employ procurement consulting services to assist you. However, you should be aware that they demand a consultancy fee, which may cut your profit margins.
Receiving an Answer
Within 30 to 120 days, federal agencies review proposals and assign a contracting officer to each evaluation. The federal agency releases publicly publishes whose bid was awarded, including the company name and project value, because the bid is open to the public.
It may take some time to find out whether you received one contract or not, but one thing is sure. You will receive a personal update from the procuring government agency after the procedure is completed.
How do I get more government bids?
Network with the government
Getting to know people in the government contracting industry is highly advised. Talking to government officials and agencies and networking with them might help you better grasp their needs and financial constraints. You’re not just trying to get government contracts when you network; you’re also trying to create the trust and commercial ties vital for doing a winning business.
Attend government events
Small business contractors can better network with government agencies by attending conferences, networking events, workshops, and other events hosted by government agencies. In addition, procurement officers, specialists and government thought leaders come and share their knowledge at these gatherings.
Find a mentor
Things can be overwhelming when you first start in the field. As a result, you may want to consider enrolling in a federally funded mentorship program.
The GSA mentorship program can assist you in navigating the bidding process and securing a government contract. In comparison, the 8(a) program of the Small Business Administration can help you connect with a successful government contractor.
Many federal contracts require large corporations to have subcontracting plans and work with small businesses as subcontractors. You can partner with a larger company that has been given a prime contract if you don’t think your company is ready to manage one.
You won’t just get your first government contract by subcontracting. It will also guide you in improving your performance and obtaining a better understanding of references and experiences that you may utilize when asking for a prime contract for your company.
Where to find government contracting opportunities?
System for award management (SAM)
Uncle SAM, our helpful uncle, has a website where prospective prime contractors can seek Federal government contracts. A contract for more than $250,000 is listed on the SAM website. Subcontracting possibilities, training films, and other materials are also available on the website to assist you in succeeding in the federal contracting profession.
Dynamic small business search (DSBS)
The SBA’s dynamic small business search (DSBS) is a free-to-use website that helps procuring government agencies to find small business contractors. Small businesses can also utilize DSBS to communicate with one another.
General service administration (GSA)
The General Services Administration (GSA) is a federal organization responsible for connecting federal customers with government contractor. Obtaining a GSA contract is also known as “getting onto the GSA Schedule,” which indicates that your company has been approved to deal with the government.
- SB A’s SubNet – is a directory of subcontracting opportunities for small firms advertised by large contractors looking for subcontractors.
- GSA – publishes a subcontracting directory for small businesses looking for prime contractor subcontracting possibilities.
- Department of Defense (DoD) – provides a database of large contractors from which small businesses can seek subcontracting opportunities.
Is it hard to win government contracts?
Most of the time the procurement officer and federal agencies rely on the past performance of the business owners before awarding a contract. So, make sure that you make your business attractive to their standards and be willing to give the right amount of effort that they are looking for.
Bidding on federal contracts needs a lot of preparation and may take a bumpy road on your way there. However, things will get easy and go accordingly if you have given yourself enough knowledge about the industry.
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