Want a new customer? The world’s biggest buyer of anything and everything is somebody you already know. His name is Uncle Sam, and thanks to new economic stimulus legislation, he’s got more money to spend than ever before — hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending on top of federal government purchases that already totaled over $425 billion per year. And he’s itching to spend it.
The big deal for small business is this: By law, at least 23 percent of all government buying must be targeted to small firms. Billions sometimes goes begging because the government can’t find enough qualified small businesses to take the money. Selling to the government — the business-to-government (B2G) market — can provide serious revenue for your business. And it may not be as complicated as you think. What’s more, this isn’t only for “big” small businesses. Even one-person or home-based small businesses can be awarded contracts.
Still, you can’t simply raise you hand to get money (unless you run a bank, perhaps); there is a formal “process” with plenty of rules. Your three basic steps are these:
1) Get comfortable with how the contracting process works;
2) Find out if your business is qualified to sell to the government, and whether it’s the right move for you;
3) Register and start pursuing opportunities.
Must-Know Government Websites
Start at the U.S. Small Business Administration website which has an excellent introduction to government contracting opportunities for small business. It includes these key components:
- How small businesses sell to the government
- How the government defines a “small business” for this purpose
- Myths and realities of government contracting
Onvia.com helps businesses find government as well as private sector contracting opportunities. Their new site Recovery.org is devoted entirely to tracking economic recovery spending at all levels of government - and includes real time access to projects available for bidding.
TargetGov.com offers tools that help contractors connect to the right people within federal, state and local governments. Search the Government Buyers Guide to find the specific procurement officials for your category of products or services.