Bill Wagner, Raleigh SCORE Mentor, attended a presentation on Federal Proposals, led by Robbie Watlington, President of HLC Government Services. HLC provides training for companies to be able to do government business, including proposal development.
Robbie indicated the advantages of government contracting to a small business include: adding new customers, eliminating some of the challenges in the private sector to like reducing competition; steady to growing revenue; stable cash flow; and getting paid on time. But government contracting requires a huge commitment, and is not a short term fix.
Preparation for government contracting requires:
- Registering as a government vendor – sam.gov ( instructions on line; ask PTAC for help)
- Position your business – target your market and buyer; utilize NAICS codes, and SIC codes; prepare capability statement.
- Locate solicitations – FBO.gov lists all federal contracts above $100k; interested vendor list; check city, county, state websites
- Implement correct strategies
- Respond to solicitations effectively – read the solicitation carefully and answer the questions completely.
The most important messages Robbie shared were:
- Develop relationships with contracting officers, Small Business Liaisons and other resources. There are many resources available to help you: SBA; NCMBC; PTAC; SBTDC, OSBDBU
- Attend site visits and meet key government people and other vendors
- Get advance notice of upcoming contracts; from contracting officers, sources sought and pre-solicitation notices. Check websites of city, county, state governments.
- When you do not win a project, find out why you were not selected. Request a debrief
- Find out who wants your products/services. Which agencies are currently buying these.
- GSA schedules –find one that matches what you offer and get qualified as a vendor.
- Teaming – partner with other firms to pursue specific contracts. Your team will show up stronger in qualifications, experience
- Consider entering government contracting business as a subcontractor to a prime who is established as a government contractor. Learn the requirements and gain the experience at the same time.
If you’d like to talk more about government contracting, schedule a mentoring appointment with Raleigh SCORE by going to our website at http://raleigh.score.org.