Learn How to Sell to Government Agencies

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, our federal government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services—$376.2 billion in contracting went to small businesses in FY 2012.

Learning how to get a piece of that pie can be as simple as looking at the SBA’s website where they offer free online training through their Government Contracting Classroom, information about SBA Contracting Programs and information on specialized local resources.

Government Contracting Classroom

This online classroom offers a variety of courses to help small businesses understand the basics of contracting with government agencies. Programs include business development program training, how to qualify and apply to the Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Program, special programs for women-owned and veteran-owned small businesses, a guide for contracting officers and more. They also offer a three-part series called Government Contracting 101, where you get an overview of contracting basics, certification programs, how the government buys and how to sell to the government. Additional information is available through their small business learning center.

SBA Contracting Programs

This area will help small business owners determine what programs are best for them. It includes tools to determine your business size to see if you qualify as a small business under SBA size standards. They offer information on business development programs, HUBZone programs, service-disabled veteran-owned programs, small disadvantaged business programs and women-owned small businesses programs.

The SBA has a document that breaks down the maximum amount of employees a business can have (or annual receipts). The criteria is different for each industry, so you will need to look closely at the industry you are interested in contracting for (i.e. If you are interested in providing services for the natural gas or oil industry, you find that subsector, which says that you can have a maximum of 500 employees to bid for their contracts.). Support activities such as providing portable restrooms or water tanks for those same activities have monetary guidelines as does the construction subsectors.

Specialized Local Resources

These centers provide in-person counseling and training services for small business owners who want to sell their products or services to federal, state or local governments. Known as Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC), this local assistance is provided at a nominal cost or free of charge. The centers can help you determine if your business is ready for contracting, help you register in the proper places and see if you are eligible for any small business certifications. PTAC representatives can also look at past contracts to see what types of contracts have been awarded to businesses like yours.

For more information, visit http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/contracting.

Story by Jennifer Taylor