Start Your Journey to Government Contracts With the SBA Step By Step

Begin Your Journey To Contracting Success
Release Date: 
Friday, June 23, 2017
Advisory Number: 
17-0623KY
Contact: 
michael.ashcraft@sba.gov

By Mark S. Hayward, Region Administrator (A), Region 4

Are you looking to grow and diversify your small business?  This summer may be the perfect time to strategically place your business on the global playing field.  How do you begin the journey to find work with local, state or federal governments? The below checklist provides information on general requirements that need to be addressed by businesses entering the government contracting arena; a perfect starting place for you.  And please remember: you are never alone on this journey. The SBA is here to assist you every step of the way. Here are the steps to take:

Contact Your Nearest PTAC:  Free one-on-one assistance and training is available from a Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC). Take advantage of it by finding one nearest you at www.aptac-us.org and schedule an appointment.

Is Your Company Name Legal? Verify your company’s exact legal name as registered with your state’s Secretary of State. You will use your company’s registered name for all registrations and certifications.

Differentiate Yourself: Develop a capability statement describing what your company does. The statement also references past projects. Contact your PTAC for samples. Ask your PTAC if your products or services are sought after by governments (domestic and international).

Tax ID Number:  Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) also known as a federal tax identification number by visiting: www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Employer-ID-Numbers-EINs

DUNS Number:  Obtain (at no cost) a Dun & Bradstreet Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number by visiting http://www.dnb.com/duns-number.html. The D&B D-U-N-S® Number is a unique nine-digit identifier for businesses used to establish a Dun & Bradstreet business credit file, which is often referenced by lenders and potential business partners to help predict the reliability and/or financial stability of a company.

Select Your Industry Codes: Identify your business’s North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code(s) at www.census.gov/eos/www/naics. NAICS is the standard used by Federal statistical agencies to classify business establishments in order to collect, analyze and publish statistical data related to the U.S. business economy. NAICS was developed under the auspices of the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and adopted in 1997.

Register in the System for Award Management (SAM) at www.sam.gov: Make sure to “Opt In” for a public search so that government agencies can find your registration. This no cost registration in the (SAM) is required to do business with the federal government. Doing business as a small business requires one more step. At the end of the SAM registration, there is a link titled “Register or Update SBA Profile” which takes you to the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) database. Complete your profile and ask your PTAC or SBA District Office to verify that your profile is complete. The DSBS is used by government agencies and prime contractors to identify “small” business contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. Your DSBS profile should be reviewed and updated at least annually. You will not be able to access these systems using Internet Explorer (IE) Versions older than IE9 – you will need to either upgrade to IE9 or higher, or access SAM with another supported browser type - Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.

Research:  Identify your customers and research their requirements. Sites like www.usa.gov, www.usaspending.gov, FedBizOpps at www.fbo.gov  and the Federal Procurement Data System at www.fpds.gov include information on agency profiles, government spending, and current opportunities. Government agencies have different requirements and objectives than commercial buyers. Understanding what and how each federal agency buys and their process helps you understand their agency goals and challenges, what they have purchased in the past, and potentially possible fits for your product or service.

Market Yourself:  Don’t be shy. Attend and actively market your product or service at procurement fairs. Government agencies regularly participate in procurement fairs. Use these opportunities to market your products and services to agency contracting officers.  Networking is key to success.

Meet One on One: Schedule meetings with agency contracting officers from the list that you developed during your research to learn about opportunities and the process they use to purchase goods and services. Networking is about raising awareness of your company and building relationships, which the majority of contractors find key to success.  Ask contracting officers for referrals. If an agency doesn’t use your products or services, they may know others who do.

Educate Yourself:  Learn everything you can about federal contracting basics. You can participate in federal government contracting webinars hosted by the SBA district offices.  Find your local office at: www.sba.gov/offices/district – webinars are listed on each district office website and they are free to anyone in the nation.

Meet Your SBA Specialist:  Work with an SBA District Office Business Opportunity Specialist to determine if your business is eligible for federal preferences in contracting, and with your PTAC to learn more about the bidding and contract award process.

The government contracting process is a learned process, and once you have it down, the benefits are everlasting.  Be patient with the process and please take advantage of all of the help and resources along the way.  There is no need to spend a dime throughout the process.  The end results will reap benefits for you and your business for years to come and will place you strategically on the global competitive map.  Enjoy the journey.  The journey is filled with amazing experiences that can fulfill only true entrepreneurs.  Have a great “summer” following your entrepreneurial dreams.