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10 Tips for Veteran-Owned Businesses Seeking to Sell to the U.S. Federal Government

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10 Tips for Veteran-Owned Businesses Seeking to Sell to the U.S. Federal Government

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: January 31, 2013 Updated: July 2, 2013

Are you a veteran-owned small business and thinking of selling to your former boss – the U.S. federal government?

Part of the mission of the SBA is to provide assistance to veterans and service-disabled veterans who return home to start, resume or grow their businesses. In addition to supporting veteran business owners through entrepreneurial training, and providing access to capital, the SBA also provides resources, tools and support to help veterans start and grow businesses through government contracting.

If you are a veteran-owned small business, check out these 10 tips for getting started selling to the U.S government and winning a government contract.

1) Boots to Business – Get Help Starting Your Business - Boots to Business is a public-private partnership program that gives service members support to help them learn the nuts and bolts of how to start and grow a business and access SBA tools and resources available to them.

2) Find a Veterans Business Outreach Center – The SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development oversees multiple Veterans Business Outreach Centers across the country. In addition to helping veterans build a business plan and start a business, these centers can help veterans land government contracts, get access to mentoring services, and find training.

3) Review your Financing Options – In addition to a range of other loan programs, SBA’s Patriot Express Program is specifically designed for small businesses that are more than 51 percent owned or controlled by veterans or members of the military community and are available up to $500,000.

4) Familiarize Yourself with Small Business Incentives for Government Contracting – The law mandates that government agencies establish contracting goals that require them to reach out and consider small businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses for procurement opportunities. Currently, 23 percent of contracts must be awarded to small businesses and three percent to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. These opportunities will help open doors, but you must still be able to sell your business on performance, price and ability. Contact your Veterans Business Outreach Center to learn more about these and other incentive opportunities.

5) Learn About How the Government Buys – The government applies standardized procedures to buy products and services it needs from suppliers that meet certain qualifications. The primary contracting methods used by the government include micro-purchases, simplified procedures, sealed bidding, contract negotiations and consolidated purchasing. Learn more about these in another SBA online training course, Government Contracting 101: How the Government Buys, or read a quick overview of the process in my earlier blog: Government Contracting – Learn how the Government Buys from Small Businesses.

6) Understand the Rules – Understanding the government’s procurement rules is critical to your success as a government contractor.  The FAR, or Federal Acquisitions Regulations, is the roadmap for doing business with the government. Check out these resources on SBA.gov to help you become familiar with the regulations that apply to most federal contractors.

7) Size Does Matter – As a small business, certain government programs may apply to you. The question then becomes: What is a small business, or, more specifically, is your firm a small business? Over the years, SBA has established and revised numerical definitions for all for-profit industries, and this numerical definition is called a "size standard."  Use SBA’s Size Standards Tool to help determine if your business is truly “small” and qualifies for government contracts.

8) Learn the Process of Selling to the Government and Find Opportunities – Selling to the government is not as big of a mystery as you might think. There are several fundamental steps you should follow:

For a deeper dive into this process, read Selling to the Government – Get Started with These 5 Steps or check out SBA’s information about Registering for Government Contracting, which explains the easy steps you need to follow to being bidding on government proposals.

9) Find Subcontracting Opportunities – An alternative to seeking prime contracts is to explore subcontracting opportunities. Subcontracting with a prime contractor can be a profitable experience as well as a growth opportunity for a business. To help small businesses find opportunities, SBA maintains SUB-Net, a searchable database of available subcontract opportunities.

10) Have a Question? – If you have questions about the federal marketplace, government contracting methods, contract opportunities or winning recovery and other federal contracts, check out the following resources:

  • SBA’s Government Contracting Guide – Explore the process of government contracting with easy how-to guides and resources.
  • Government Contracting Classroom – Available via SBA’s Learning Center, these self-paced, free online courses cover the fundamentals of selling to the government as a small business owner.
  • Get In-Person Assistance and Training – SBA and its resource partners can answer your questions about the federal market place, government contracting methods, and finding contract opportunities. Find your local SBA office, Veterans Business Outreach Center and more with this interactive map

About the Author:

Caron Beesley


Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley


If there is your job will be that much easier! But this topic was created 1 year ago, anyone have more tips?
oh great. i think. it is interesting
This is information is great for veterans! I love to see the SBA empowering service-disabled veterans as well. Excellent article. Thanks
Great Article. We are a security franchise and selling to the government is not that hard as long as you are in the right place at the right time. We recommend finding places that competitors aren't willing to go and see if there is a contract there. If there is your job will be that much easier! But this topic was created 1 year ago, anyone have more tips?
This is a very helpful article full of excellent resources. Is it possible for non veterans to sell to the us government also? Do you have resources to help non veterans? I will wait for reading ! Thank you & best regards !
Thanks for providing such a nice detail information.They are really useful to us. You do great job .
Wow! This an amazing and very helpful resource for me! You give some useful information about how to sell to the U.S. Federal Government. I have been looking for this for months. Thank you so much for Caron
We are a veteran-owned manufacturer of custom & standard protective packaging products and we are very appreciative of the training, and access to capital/resources that the SBA provides to help us succeed. Thank you!
Thanks for the information Caron. Many servicemen and women find it's difficult to transition from the military back into civilian life. Giving veterans an opportunity to start their own small businesses can give them earning power. At the Farmer Veteran Coalition, we believe that food production offers purpose, opportunity, as well as physical and psychological benefits.
This is a very helpful article full of excellent resources. This post was edited to remove a link. Please review our Community Best Practices (http://www.sba.gov/community) for more information about how best to participate in our online discussions. Thank you.


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