For some reason, government contracts have a certain mystique about them.
Small business owners often hesitate to even consider the possibility of landing government procurement contracts. Either they don't understand the process or they don't know where to look for opportunities that are a good match with their company's products and services.
But think about it: The government has to buy goods and services somewhere. Government agencies have a reputation for providing steady income for small businesses and there's no reason why your business shouldn't benefit from the government's buying dollars. The hardest part is probably finding government contract opportunities to bid on.
If you're a small business owner who is eager to take advantage of government contract opportunities, the first thing you should do is register as a vendor with the government. The registration process is fairly simple and straightforward, but unless the government knows who you are and what your business does, your quest to land government contracts will be a bust.
After you've registered as a government vendor, these are the places to look for government contract opportunities:
- FedBizOpps. FedBizOpps (www.fbo.gov) is the place where the federal government lists all its procurement and contracting opportunities that are valued at $25,000 or more. The site is updated daily with as many as 1,000 new contract opportunities posted on any given day.
- Bid matching services. If you're not interested in identifying government contracts yourself, you can hire someone to do it for you. Bid matching services connect small business clients with government leads, and can help you properly present your company to government agencies.
- PTACs. Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) are government-funded centers that function like bid matching services. The only difference is that a PTACs services won't cost you a dime. Contact your local PTAC for information about how to begin receiving leads for government contracts in your industry.
- GSA. The General Services Administration (GSA) is the clearinghouse for a large portion of government spending. GSA awards contracts to large and small businesses through their regional offices, so it's worth familiarizing yourself with GSA opportunities in your area.
- Direct contact. It never hurts to go old school, i.e. calling government agencies directly. Don't expect them to award you a contract over the phone. However, agency reps are usually willing to point you in the right direction.