Uncle Sam with
Federal contracts are out
there for small business
By Harvey Meyer
trade association that helps small firms do
business with the federal government and
and patience. It took an
average of 1. 7 years for
APRIL 2011 ;e Costco Connection 23
business outreach offices (see www.osdbu.
gov/ offices.html). Another key source is the
U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA),
which offers reams of information and free
online training courses on how to do contracting work. (See page 24 for more
resources.) Small companies may find the following recommendations valuable in attempts
to secure government contracts.
Know thyself. Understand your core
competencies. Offer products and services
you’re capable of delivering.
Register your interests. Any firm doing
business with the government has to follow
certain set procedures. The company should
first obtain an “identifier,” such as a Data
Universal Numbering System, or DUNS,
number, a unique nine-character number
that the government uses to identify the organization, says Mark Mills, president of the
Association of Procurement Technical
Assistance Centers (PTACs) in Gallatin,
Tennessee. Companies must also be registered in the Central Contractor Registration
www.ccr.gov) database. That online portal
creates a formal record for companies while
also enabling federal agencies and prime contractors to find small-business contractors.
Know Uncle Sam. Research what types
of goods and services are purchased by the
hundreds of federal agencies at
spending.gov. Initially, select one or two agencies and study their operations and needs.
“The federal government is so big it’s like
drinking from a fire hose,” says Turczyn. “I tell
our people we need to focus.”
One quick way to learn about buying
opportunities at targeted—and all—federal
agencies is to check FedBizOpps ( www.fbo.
gov). All planned purchases of more than
$25,000 must be listed at that site.
Agencies periodically ask small companies
to respond to bid solicita-tions, also at FedBizOpps,
says NASBC’s Dorfman.
Even if you don’t win a
bid, responding to these
“Sources Sought” notifications is a good way to
market your goods/ser-vices, she notes.
Sought,’ you get your
name out there to decision makers,” agrees
Linder. “I definitely plan to respond to more
Start small. Successful contractors, according to the American Express survey, advise
starting with smaller contracts, which may
lead to larger opportunities. Perhaps test the
waters with so-called “micro-purchases”—for
CONTINUED ON PAGE 24
be a good avenue