With the creation of small-business focused task force and the signing of the Small Business Jobs Act, President Barack Obama has removed several obstacles facing small businesses when applying for federal contracts. A federal contract can be a vital revenue source for fledgling businesses providing an opportunity for a business to grow, create jobs, and attract other clients. Over the past couple of years, the percentage of small businesses contracted for federal work has risen to over 20 percent of total jobs.
The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) suggests five steps a small business can take to boost its chances of landing a federal contract. These steps include: utilizing a federal business counselor, getting certified, targeting a product or service, marketing, and proactively seeking out contracts. The Small Business Administration addresses most of these steps for free, and has support offices in every state.
With nearly 900 Small Business Development Centers, professional counselors employed by the SBA are easily accessible everywhere across the country. Most services are offered free of charge and work to get a small business started on the path to receiving a federal contract. Certification programs such as the SBA’s 8(a) program offers contract counseling and direct access to certain federal contracts, such as set-asides and sole-source contracts. By targeting a specific product or service to agencies that need it most, small businesses can improve their chances of gaining the attention of those agencies and scoring a contract. Marketing a small business is a pivotal step in garnering the interest and recognition in the company that can lead to a contract. Participating in events focused on providing networking opportunities with contracting officials help attract attention and give small business owners contacts within relevant federal agencies. Finally, after making a list of germane agencies, reach out to your new contacts and build a relationship with each agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization office. Both sources can provide a list of available contracts within that agency and help initiate the bidding process.