Government Contracting: Knowing the Ins and Outs

Even in a down economy, the government keeps spending, so for small businesses, getting set up for government contracts can be one way to stay afloat and keep the money rolling in to keep your business running. Here’s what you need to get started with government contracts, as well as tips and resources to beef up on the topic.

Government Contracts 101

OPENForum recently revamped its government contracts site (could this be an indicator of how the site feels about the potential in government contracts?)  Not sure if government contracting is for you? OPENForum explains why the government is the ideal client and always pays its bills, making it worth the hoops you have to jump through. OPENForum

Just getting into the world of contracting? Don’t be dissuaded by the acronyms, says Small Business Trends’ own Anita Campbell on OPENForum. It’s important to know how to classify your business under the appropriate NAICS, or the North American Industry Classification System, as well as understanding a contract’s GSA schedule, or General Services Administration. Knowing what these and other acronyms stand for can put you that much further ahead of the competition. OPENForum

While many are daunted by the process for becoming eligible to apply for government contracts, the procedure can really be broken down into simple steps. There are a slew of free resources that assist you with the process, as well as with researching what government agencies are buying what you are selling. Connect the dots, and you’ve instantly increased your target market. Small Business Online Community

Women and Minorities

The government is pushing its relatively new Women Owned Business set aside program, which is designed to increase the number of government contracts women-owned businesses secure. In the past, they’ve fallen short of the 5% goal of the $400+ billion in contracts awarded each year to female-owned companies. For those that qualify (and economically disadvantaged women-owned businesses are heavily encouraged to apply), the SBA outlines the certification process. SBA

Should women get a leg up in bidding on government contracts? Maybe not, says The Washington Times. The new administration program from Obama curbs competition based on gender, though it may end up costing taxpayers more in the long run. While the set aside was designed to help women owned businesses secure more government contracts, it is, in fact, hurting African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, American Indians, and of course, Caucasian males. The Washington Times

While the new administration program doesn’t apply to minorities, there are still plenty of incentives for minorities to get certified in their businesses. Michele Ruiz shares her experience and provides resources for minority-owned certification.  Michele Ruiz

Where the Government Spends Money

While many forecasts are that the government will be spending less, and with fewer contractors in the near future, one close-to-untapped resource may be the Simplified Acquisition Process. In 2010, the government spent $11 billion through Simplified Acquisitions, $6.2 billion of which went to small businesses. SAPs tend to hire and pay out faster, which is a boon in an industry known for slow decision-making and payouts. It’s worth looking into if you’re already qualified to bid on government contracts. GovWin

Industries tend to pool together geographically, mostly due to the concentrated resources available in a given area. Silicon Valley is known for tech startups. Indianapolis for Life Sciences. And San Antonio may just turn out to be the go-to spot for government contracts on cybersecurity. With the new Air Force Cyber Command headquarters and skilled graduates from the University of Texas at San Antonio, the Texas city is shaping up to draw more government contracts. The Wall Street Journal

With the sheer number of hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes in the last year, getting  certified as a FEMA and Disaster Relief contractor may prove to be valuable for small businesses. Companies providing debris removal, disaster services and supplies are in demand as natural disasters strike all over the United States. Government Contracting Tips


Any way you look at it, government contracts bring billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. And in trying times like these, every bit counts for small businesses. Getting certified and bidding on government contracts can get your company a piece of the $500 billion that the government spends on goods and services every year. Caribbean Business

Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.