How to Get Government Contracts

how to get government contracts

Learning how to get government contracts on local, state and federal levels is good for your small business. Small businesses prefer these contracts because they pay well. For example, the average federal contractor made over $100,000 a year in 2017.

Plus, federal contracts can fit in with your other projects and clients in a more flexible way. You can renew them or let them go after they’re done.

Interested? Here’s what you need to know about government contracting.

What is a Government Contract?

This is a legal contract between a contractor and a federal, state or local government. These can include different services ranging from construction to IT and lots of others in between.

Can Any Business Get a Government Contract?

Government contractors are enterprises that qualify as a small business. And they need to be registered as a government contractor.

There are two types– you can be a prime contractor or a subcontractor.

Here’s a link you can use to get started.

Why You Should Apply for Contracts with Government Agencies

Federal agencies require that your small business adhere to certain labor regulations and laws to get accepted. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t big advantages to working with a government agency.

Reliable Payments

Government contracts awarded to small businesses pay well and they are reliable. A small business can usually get their money within 30 days.

Longer Contracts

Granted, it’s a tough process to get to be a federal contractor. However, these projects last from one to three years usually.

Tap Into A New Market

Small businesses are always looking for new work. You can grow and mature your enterprise by entering the public sector. There are new industry opportunities here that small businesses like.

Stay Agile

Taking advantage of upcoming contracts is easier as a contractor. Businesses can change government jobs quicker than federal employees. Small business contractors aren’t tied down with as much red tape.

These Are Easy To Land

The registration process is time consuming. It’s a big task, but there are set asides for a successful business. You ‘ll need to qualify, but then some federal contracts are reserved.

How to Find Government Contracts

You need to find them before you can win federal government contracts. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a good resource for federal government options. Of course there are state and local projects you can start bidding on too. These are looking to find contractors as well.

Here’s five good ways small businesses can find them.

If you’re a small business that wants to look at the big picture, start here. You’ll get an overview of the federal marketplace.

Search The Web

Subcontracting opportunities occur at the local level too. Search for (state/county/city) procurement. The submission process might be different for each.

Use Designations

Some contract opportunities have special designations and programs. Like Women-Owned Small Business and Service Disabled Veteran . Get more info from the SBA official website on award management.

Ask An Expert

There are consulting services that supply technical assistance. And they can help with business readiness by sorting through the legal implications.

Use A Service

There are other services that match small businesses up with federal options. They use criteria like keywords.

Read on to find out how businesses can put together proposals.

How to Get Government Contracts (Federal)

Government contract opportunities for small businesses have requirements.

Register Your Business

Registering your business is the path forward. Any government agency needs more than your physical location.

Make Sure You Have Liability Insurance

Government agencies require this. It protects against accusations of losses, injuries or damages.

Have the Necessary Documentation

Small businesses need documentation to be considered for federal business opportunities. Government buyers on the state and local level have requirements too.

Employer Identification Number:

You need one of these regardless of your niche. You’ll need a valid taxpayer number to get started. Set aside the time needed to do this in one shot.

DUNS Number:

The Data Universal Numbering System is a searchable database. Helps prospective clients learn about your business.

NAICS Number:

The North American Industry Classification number gathers stats on your business. It classifies businesses by niche. It was started in 1997 and renamed The American Industry Classification System. You’ll need a naics code.

CAGE Number:

Another number you need to find subcontracting opportunities and others with the federal government. The Commercial And Government Entity (CAGE) Code has five characters.

Business Size Information:

The SBA maintains a set of standards for defining small businesses. These help small business to qualify for work like “set asides.”

Prepare Your Proposal

There are a number of metrics that make a difference here. Like past performance evaluations. Detail how you will handle each step in the Statement of Work requirements.

How to Get State Government Contracts

A small business needs to be aware of the differences between federal and state options. Remember, the lowest price on a bid is just one of the factors.

How to Get Local Government Contracts

There’s no standardization between the federal, state and local procurement processes. Local governments have their own websites.

Here’s a link to the federal contracting community. And one for state opportunities.

How to Bid on Government Contracts

Before you start bidding on government contracts, the sba offers a distinction you need to know about. Prime contractors work with the government directly.

Find work through the fedbizopps website. And through gsa schedules that include everything from paper clips to computers.

Subcontractors work with the contractors. There’s no gsa schedule for them. But they have their own database. Once small business owners have their documentation together, here’s how the bidding process works.

Find The Contract You Are Interested In

Make sure to follow the guidelines once you do. In other words, check out the requirements for RFPs and IFBs. These will include a Naics code and other documents where necessary.

Make Sure It’s Right For Your Business

Dont take on something too big or in a different market.

Read The Guidelines and Follow Them

Keep in mind that a government agency will reject any bid that doesn’t conform completely to their submission guidelines.

Look At The Closed Bid Info.

Reading these can give you good information on what other vendors charged.

Tips on Getting the Perfect Government Contract

Bidding on the right contracting offer is key when you want to win government contracts. Here’s how to get one that fits your own business model.

Develop A Network

A contracting officer will do business with people they know. If there’s a pre bid conference, go and ask questions. Attend industry events.

Pay Attention to Details

Read the RFP. Check all the boxes for timelines and formats. Then recheck it.

Market Your Small Business.

Look for the government agencies that buy your services. Introduce your business. Get put on a list for agency releases. Great ways for winning government contracts.

Stay in Your Lane

Dont bid on projects with deadlines you cant deliver on. And ones that don’t align with your services.

What are the easiest government contracts to get?

Janitorial projects are often looking to find small business contractors. Painting and plumbing jobs can be a small contract bigger firms pass on. Don’t forget the Feds allocate about 10% in government contracting to disadvantaged businesses. This includes government contracts for women-owned businesses.’

Image: Depositphotos

Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 7 years. He is a graduate of Ryerson University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. His print credentials include employment with various Toronto area newspapers and three works of fiction: The Apple Lady (2004), Creekwater (2006) and Sophistry By Degrees (2008) published by Stonegarden Press In California.