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Tips for getting started on your small business’s journey to winning government contracts:

As a small business owner, it can feel overwhelming to find and win government contracting work. The process for searching out quality opportunities is complicated enough. But there’s reason to be optimistic. The government has established rules that ensure small businesses have the chance to apply for and win federal contracts. In fact, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, about 23% of federal contracts go to small firms–that’s $100 billion every year. The federal government also sets annual goals for awarding contracts to particular types of small businesses: 5% for women-owned firms, 5% for small disadvantaged businesses, 3% for HUBZone companies, and 3% for service-disabled veteran-owned firms.

Here are our tips for getting started on your small business’s journey to winning government contracts:

1. Get Certified

As we already mentioned, the government sets aside contracting opportunities for minority-owned and otherwise disadvantaged businesses. Register your business as a WOSB, VOSB, HUBZone, etc. to qualify for these designated funds. Untold Content, LLC, for example, is a registered Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) through the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

2. Read Solicitations Closely

When reviewing solicitations, read closely for information that could disqualify you (factors like location, required skills, firm pricing, etc.). Take time to vet each opportunity and ensure that you only spend precious time and resources applying for opportunities for which you qualify. And pay special attention to response dates–they’re often quick turnarounds!

3. Perfect Your Capability Statement

Write a capability statement that clearly communicates your strengths. Include any past government work, if applicable, and list the NAICS codes that most accurately describe what services you provide. Provide up-to-date and accurate contact information so they can get ahold of you.

4. Attend Federal Contracting Events

Attend government procurement and federal contracting events, and participate in their match-making sessions. You’ll have the chance to sit down with contract managers and small business advocates from government agencies looking to contract out work, as well as large companies (“primes”) looking for subcontractors. This is your chance to quickly articulate your capabilities, hand out your capability statement, and ask to be put in contact with the appropriate decision-makers. Pro tip: Collect hoards of business cards and follow up as soon as possible by sending your capability statement via email.

5. Follow Up

Many matchmaking sessions end with the government official asking you to send along your digital capability statement via email. Even if they don’t, it’s smart to use all of those business cards you collected to send a follow-up thank you email with a PDF version of your capability statement. Briefly restate what your company does and what differentiates you from your competition. If they identified you as a good fit for specific projects or contracts, remind them of this in this email. Lastly, ask for the opportunity to do a capability presentation or creative share with their program office or acquisitions team.

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