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Already a Contractor? Tell Us Your Story

by BobK, Community Administrator

  • Created: February 20, 2009, 5:08 pm
  • Updated: June 2, 2014, 9:17 pm

Government Contracting is different than doing business in the private sector. You just don't walk into any agency, strike a deal and begin work the next day. There is a process that needs to be followed, and lessons they don't teach you in the how-to guides.

How did you learn about government contracting?

What resources or services did you use to learn the steps to registering and bidding on contracts?

What kind of lessons did you learn?

Message Edited by erinirving on 02-21-2009 06:04 PM

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clodeboutique | Window Shopper | 5/25/2014 - 1:48 am


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onqtekinc | Window Shopper | 3/18/2009 - 11:38 am


Everything we read in the press is about starting a small business and how that is good for America. My experience has not been very good. I went through this huge process (with my own money) just to get involved with an SBIR program for a DoD project. Furthermore, my small business is performing on the contract. What's happening now is that auditors are looking at my measily contract like I'm some kind of huge company spending millions of dollars, where I've barely spent over $200k. They should concentrate their efforts on mid-sized to larger companies spending millions of dollars per year. Our SBIR program is a measily 0.08% of the federal budget and in fact is so over-overlooked by lawmakers, that there is talk of killing off the program - which has been responsible for 25% of American innovation over the last decade. This sort of thing is a massivewaste of taxpayer money in our system and agiant overeaching byan auditingagency. Apparently, I am not the only one experiencing these types of things. Something needs to be done to prevent thiskind of 'tilting' against small businesses. Does anyone else out there have something to say about it? I'd sure like to hear it.

MyOnlineToolbox | Window Shopper | 3/20/2009 - 3:08 pm


I target the small contractor in repair and remodeling and unfortunately can not penetrate the SBIR process. Whether it is intended to, or not, the process seems overly complex and prejudiced to whomever is in control, if there is even anyone there. In my case, I started a company www.MyOnlineToolbox.com, that won a local MIT Enterprise Best Business Idea Award and then a national DELL TOP 10 INNOVATOR Award. My target is the small mobile contractor in repair and remodeling. There are 128 million existing homes in the U.S., a huge base of ready business for home-improvement professionals. The average age of the U.S. home is 32 years - prime remodeling age, and a time of needed repair or replacement. With the slowdown in the housing market, people are more likely to keep their existing home and maintain it rather than buy a new home. I may have a 'small' chance to get SBIR support for the opportunity to be able to help hundreds of thousands of small companies, and possibly millions of independants. But then again we need to allocate billions to huge corporations who need money to survice for another few months before they realize their models are outdated. Just imagine if that money made it to the small entreprenuers of America and how far we could stretch it. For the small contractor looking for help, the best I could do for now is offer our product for Free by visiting our website. It will do the basics of estimating, work orders and invoicing plus allow you to also work with all your subcontractors and suppliers for purchasing. Message Edited by NicoleD on 12-15-2009 11:11 AM

mattmcknight | Window Shopper | 3/23/2009 - 11:31 am


Show Replied Text…
I target the small contractor in repair and remodeling and unfortunately can not penetrate the SBIR process. Whether it is intended to, or not, the process seems overly complex and prejudiced to whomever is in control, if there is even anyone there. In my case, I started a company www.MyOnlineToolbox.com, that won a local MIT Enterprise Best Business Idea Award and then a national DELL TOP 10 INNOVATOR Award. My target is the small mobile contractor in repair and remodeling. There are 128 million existing homes in the U.S., a huge base of ready business for home-improvement professionals. The average age of the U.S. home is 32 years - prime remodeling age, and a time of needed repair or replacement. With the slowdown in the housing market, people are more likely to keep their existing home and maintain it rather than buy a new home. I may have a 'small' chance to get SBIR support for the opportunity to be able to help hundreds of thousands of small companies, and possibly millions of independants. But then again we need to allocate billions to huge corporations who need money to survice for another few months before they realize their models are outdated. Just imagine if that money made it to the small entreprenuers of America and how far we could stretch it. For the small contractor looking for help, the best I could do for now is offer our product for Free by visiting our website. It will do the basics of estimating, work orders and invoicing plus allow you to also work with all your subcontractors and suppliers for purchasing.Message Edited by NicoleD on 12-15-2009 11:11 AM
I started a federal government contracting business (performing IT services, custom software development, design, and integration) four years ago, with two partners. At that point, we already had 10 years experience each working in the government contracting market at large companies. We saw some niches that were not being served. We got things rolling as subcontractors. The relationships and trust built up with people in government and with large prime contractors over those years were key to establishing these subcontracts. From a subcontracting position, we have the opportunity to really deeply understand what is going on in the specific agencies we support, and to understand which opportunities a small company can bid on successfully. Much like a strategic game of poker, you end up folding on most opportunities that are out there, because there are circumstances that make it very unlikely that you would win. My suggestion would be to team with another company that has exposure to the agency you want to deal with. As a small business, you can lose bids simply because a competitor is deemed to be more financially viable than you are. If you don't have a line of credit that covers the cost of the job, if you don't already have the requisite number of people working for your company, or if you are unable to successfully demonstrate an understanding of the mission of the agency you are trying to support, you are going to lose a competitive bid.

Design2Train | Performer | 6/9/2009 - 9:01 pm


My company was SBA 8a certified in 2005. The process was very time consuming and in the process I had to re-submit my narrative. when I called the SBA they basically told me that if I couldn't figure out what they wanted I needed to get someone else to write it for me. I went online and found several companies that specialized in narratives, but the prices were outrageous ($1500 - $7000 to write MY OWN LIFE STORY). I spent about 80 hours researching, calling folks and then submitted my own 7-page narrative. It was accepted and my company got certified. About a year later, I thought... if I had trouble writing and I was a good writer, I get there were others as well. I helped several other folks using my research materails and they succeeded too. So I developed a Narrative Toolkit that sold for $97 and in 2008 added a Narrative Writing Service for $497. This has become a great side business and i meet so many great small business owners in the process. And it has helped my business keep a steady income between the large 8a contracts. yes, I have made money as an 8a contractor in the training field. Certifications take time, they are a pain, but they open doors. My advice for you... Google PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center - part of the Department of Defense) in your state and call them. Even if you are not an 8a business, you can get free bid matching services through them.

JoeGamer | Creator | 6/27/2009 - 11:53 pm


Well I learned about government contracting here on business.gov, but the reality is, i didn't know much about it until I jumped right into it. The best way to learn is through experience.

PainterJones | Creator | 6/28/2009 - 1:25 am


Show Replied Text…
Well I learned about government contracting here on business.gov, but the reality is, i didn't know much about it until I jumped right into it. The best way to learn is through experience.
government contracting is an art you learn over years of experience. The best way to learn is to start.

MusicNoodle | Window Shopper | 6/28/2009 - 1:30 am


I learned about government contracting through one of my friends who does a lot of business with federal and state governments.