Government Contractor Factoring Blog


Government Contractor

Notice: How to Stay Compliant with the Updated Trade Agreements Act

On May 5, 2016, many schedule contractors received a notice of the government’s continual examination of compliance to the Trade Agreements Act (TAA). Schedule contractors are required to comply with this act by verifying the country of origin for all of their products.

If you are a government contractor, here are a few tips to help you stay compliant.

Abide by the TAA

The TAA states that the product produced by government contractors needs to be wholly grown, produced, or manufactured in the United States or a designated country. According to the Trade Agreements Act, the product can also be “substantially transformed into a new and different article of commerce in the US or designated country.”

To find a list of designated countries, you can reference The Federal Acquisition Regulation section 25.003. Major countries that don’t make the list are China and India. If you obtain products from multiple countries, each country of origin needs to be noted. Also, if you use suppliers, they need to tell you the country of origin for every item they provide for you.

Compliance standards for product contracts

If you are unsure if your product has been transformed in a way to make it compliant, you can find recent rulings on the Customs Ruling Online Search System (CROSS), a searchable database of rulings by the United States Customs and Border Protection (USCBP). In its role of investigating a product’s TAA compliance, the USCBP determines if the manufacturing process has changed the product’s functions or its traits.

Compliance standards for service contracts

If you are a government contractor providing services, the compliance standards are slightly different. The country of origin is determined by where the company is legally established and not by where the services are performed. So even though your services may be performed in another country, if your company is established in the United States or a designated country, you are compliant.

What this means for you

Schedule holders who receive an official notice have five business days to submit a spreadsheet that verifies the country of origin for each product on the GSA contract.

If schedule contractors discover that they aren’t compliant, they have to complete these three steps.
1. Remove all non-compliant products from the contracts.
2. Update GSA Advantage so that the non-compliant products are erased from the system.
3. Update and submit their price list to the National Schedules Information Center.

To improve your TAA compliance, incorporate the following procedures into your ongoing compliance efforts.
Keep a record of your manufacturing process. Tracking each step of this process will make it much easier to prove compliance. It will also help you keep in touch with the right people if that manufacturing process changes.
Verify that suppliers meticulously update their product’s country of origin. If any changes need to be made, be sure to let your GSA Contracts administrator know.
Remove products that are not TAA-compliant. You can use the modifications clause to remove any products that are not compliant with the TAA.

Federal rules and regulations are ever changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on the government’s requirements for its contractors. One thing that never changes about working with the government is the need for steady cash flow. To learn more about how government contract financing can benefit your company, visit our invoice factoring page.

Staffing Blog

The Cash Advance Option You Never Considered

When small businesses have a need for money, the most common next-step is to apply for a loan. What many don’t realize is that they have capital readily available to them in the form of outstanding invoices. In fact, the process of accounts receivable factoring has many favorable benefits over traditional financing methods, particularly in the case of government contracting. Let’s take a look at a few of these benefits and how invoice factoring services might be the ideal solution to your business capital needs.

Dependable Cash Flow

You can’t win a government contract if you don’t have the financial means to fulfill your bid. Don’t miss out on that upcoming RFP due to lack of positive cash-flow to back it up. Government contract financing is fast, easy and cuts out all the red tape involved in getting a loan. You’ll have access to the money you need when you need it, without having to take on additional debt in the process.

Competitive Advantage

Many small businesses feel it’s impossible to compete with larger organizations, particularly when it comes to bidding on government contracts. By working with a reputable invoice factoring company, you can step up to the plate and play ball with the big dogs. Better yet, you can do so with the confidence that comes with knowing you’ve got the funding to back it up.

Hire the Best People

Anyone who has been in business for even a short amount of time knows how important it is to hire a qualified staff of skilled, dedicated workers. Attracting and recruiting top talent is only half the battle. You also have to make sure you’re taking care of their needs so they’ll want to stay onboard for the long-term. Leveraging your outstanding invoices for upfront cash can help ensure that once you’ve landed the right candidates, you won’t lose them due to payroll disruptions or other financial woes.

Think Long Term

One of the biggest factors in successful government contracting is proper preparation ahead of time. You need to know what types of contracts you’re best suited for, how and when to best position your offer, and what bid amount would be most likely to help you come out on top. Having a plan in place for financing is a significant part of this preparation. Plan ahead, research invoice factoring as well as reputable factoring companies now. It will give you assurance that once the bid is won, you are set with your financing needs.

Transparency

Successful small business professionals value honesty and choosing an invoice factoring company is no exception. Not all providers are created equal, but if you do your homework, you can end up with a partner that provides this high level of transparency. For instance, our government contract financing services do not include any monthly minimums, and there are no hidden fees to worry about. It’s a level of trust that is rare in the factoring industry.

If you’re a small business that’s considering entering the world of government contracting, it’s important to know all of your options ahead of time, including the best way to finance your bids. Invoice factoring can provide the working capital you need to confidently throw your hat into the ring and emerge victorious.

Government Contractor

Exposing the Myths of Small Business Government Contracting

Did you know that the U.S. government actually has a goal to award nearly one-quarter of its prime contracts to small businesses? Furthermore, Congress approves over $1 trillion in spending just about every year. Though this is great news, a good number of small businesses are still hesitant to get involved. Much of the resistance is due to a number of myths and misconceptions that are still being perpetuated. If you’re wondering how to get government contracts for your small business, here are some of these common misbeliefs and the actual truth behind each of them.

Myth: My Business is Too Small to be Competitive…

Truth: As mentioned above, the U.S. government sets aside a certain amount of money each year to specifically be spent on contracts with small businesses. That means for many contracts, larger organizations simply don’t qualify. When we take size out of the equation, the opportunities become much more attainable. (You can learn more about the various programs for small businesses here.)

Myth: The Lower Bidder Always Wins…

Truth: Sure, there will be times when another candidate is chosen based on the lowest price, but this is actually more of an exception than a rule. In fact, the Federal Government as well as state agencies have the right to award government contracts to whichever candidate they feel is best suited, regardless of the actual bid amount. Be competitive but confident in your company’s ability to provide quality goods or services, and you’ll have a very good chance of winning.

Myth: It Takes Forever to Get Paid…

Truth: Despite the horror stories you may have heard about on the news or read about in the paper, most government contracts are paid in a very timely manner. In fact, the average turnaround for remittance of monies owed is around 30 days, sometimes even less. Additionally, there are other options available to you when time is of the essence. For instance, government contract factoring allows you to collect what’s rightfully yours upfront without the hassle of waiting.

Myth: I’ll Spend a lot of Money and Time and May Not Even Win…

Truth: While government contracting does involve an investment of time, money and resources, the outcome isn’t nearly as bleak as you may think. In fact, a recent report by American Express OPEN found that small businesses seeking a government contract for three years or less were awarded their first contract in just one year and after only three unsuccessful bids. The old adage that “you can’t win them all” can be applied here, as with any other business dealing, but success is certainly not impossible.

Myth: It’s Way Too Complicated…

Truth: While there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to understanding how to get government contracts, working with Federal or state agencies is really not all that different from doing business with other large organizations. It may take a bit of trial and error, but getting the process down to a science isn’t nearly as difficult as one might think. These tips should help cut down on the trial and error:

Tips to Writing a Flawless Government Proposal
Government Contracting- Rules You Need to Know
How to Bid for a Government Contract…and WIN
The Secret to Getting the Right Government Contract

If you’ve considered the possibility of bidding on a government contract but were hesitant due to one or more of the above misconceptions, the truths exposed above should help you make a more informed decision.

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Government Contract Financing

How Relationships Can Help You Win a Government Contract

Winning a government contract involves a lot more than simply drafting up a great proposal. It’s the relationships that you develop with the right people along the way that will ultimately bring you the success you’re after. To get you pointed in the right direction, here are a few practical tips for how to get government contracts through effective relationship building.

Making the Right Connections

When it comes to going after government contracts for bid, making connections with the right resources is essential, especially if you’re a small business. Teaming up with fellow contractors is a great way to build credibility and proficiency while improving your chances of winning bids. Locating and connecting with these quality individuals, however, will require a little prep work on your part.

First, focus on getting involved. Networking plays a big role in the government contract world, and this can be done a number of ways. Participating in events, such as government conferences, and joining local business groups can help you locate others who might also be interested in government contracting. Additionally, connecting with various resources via social media can help you establish yourself and get your foot in the door.

When looking for fellow professionals with whom to team up, start by working on smaller projects together first. This will help you determine whether the relationship is a good fit.

Participating in a Mentorship

A great way to learn the ins and outs of how to get government contracts is to connect with someone who is already experienced in the field. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a mentor protégé program which is designed specifically to help small business owners understand the government contracting process. There are several requirements in order to become a protégé, but being able to participate in a mentorship will make it well worth your time and efforts.

A mentor can provide guidance and advice on everything from the various types of government contracts to best practices for writing proposals, and even how certain strategies, such as invoice factoring, can help improve your cash flow. Partnering with an established mentor can also help you build credibility.

Government Provided Resources

To make the process of contracting a little bit easier, the government has put together a number of resources which are available through procurement center representatives and commercial market representatives. Procurement center reps help potential contractors to better understand the process and are available to assist with other concerns that may arise in the interim.

Commercial market representatives provide assistance with various parts of the process, such as obtaining subcontracts and reviewing prime contractors. They also handle the training on the subcontracting assistance program.

A Step in the Right Direction

The field of government contracting is highly competitive. The one thing you can do to differentiate yourself and strengthen your chances of being successful is to focus on developing relationships with the right people. Doing so effectively will help you establish yourself as a trusted player in the contracting realm.

Triumph Business Capital is a respected resource in the government contracting industry. For more information on our government contract factoring services, or to learn more about whether factoring would be a good fit for you, give us a call. We’re here to help.

Government Contractors, Government

Doing Business With the Federal Government: An Overview – Part 2

Sandra Walls is President and CEO of AIL Logistics Solutions, a multimillion-dollar, Memphis-based, service-disabled veteran-, woman- and minority-owned company that provides diverse logistics and technical support solutions to government and commercial clients. A retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, Ms. Walls joined the company after serving 22 years on active duty as a logistics officer, managing supply and fuels accounts while making military history everywhere she commanded. She offers a real-world perspective on government contracting based on leveraging her military experience and built on doing what it takes to excel.
In Part 2 of this series, Ms. Wall addresses specific contracting processes and challenges.

Q: What are some misconceptions that many have about government contracting and doing business with the government as a whole?
The most common one I get from people is, “I hear the government does not pay you.” That has never been my experience. Ever. I don’t know who these people are dealing with, because under the “Prompt Payment Act” within the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the federal government is mandated to pay contractors in 30 days. If they are late paying you, they have to pay interest. So it’s in their best interest to pay you on time. They may be late for whatever reason, but that has not been my experience. Some of this is just flat-out fear, because some folks see all of the technical requirements, all of the paperwork, just a large bureaucracy, and they don’t want to deal with it – they’re afraid of it. I tell them don’t be afraid of it. Just go through one or two, and you’ll find that it’s going to become easier.

Q: What challenges are involved in responding to a solicitation?
Initially, the paperwork requirements may be frightening, but once you get into it and understand all the different sections, you get used to it and it’s not as hard. Certain parts of a solicitation never change. For instance, you have to declare your socio-economic certifications, whether you’re woman-owned, minority, service-disabled veteran, in a HUB zone, all of the above. Those are blocks that you check, and some of it is automated and online, so a contracting officer can look up that information or you can submit it with your proposal. The biggest challenge is responding to the technical piece, normally in Section C – the Statement of Work. That’s where you have to really “answer the mail” – tell them how you’re going to go about doing the job. What processes are you going to put into place to make the system work, or how will you improve their processes or enhance their bottom line. Whatever they ask you to do or provide, do it. If you don’t provide the information requested, you may get kicked out.

Q: Do you have a proposal writing team to handle that work? If so, do you recommend that approach?
We’re not large enough to have that kind of dedicated proposal writing team. Depending on the size of the contract, you can find people who make a living putting together proposals, but, in my experience, it’s an expensive undertaking for a small business. As we’ve evolved, we’ve applied that concept internally. We may assign a proposal manager to be responsible for the proposal, to capture the data from different possible areas and then consolidate it into a document that everyone reviews and plays a part in preparing. Also, now that I have a dedicated person on the government side of the business, he’s helping to pull together proposals and he loves to do it, so that’s brought a lot of value as we’ve grown. And, there are some agencies, like SCORE through the Small Business Administration, that will provide support, but they don’t write the proposal for you. They can provide some guidelines, help direct you, but for the most part, you have to wing it. You learn from experience.

Q: Unless you win a contract, how do you know if your proposals are on-target?
One of the cool things with federal contracts is something I haven’t seen on the commercial side: Contract officers are required by law to give you a debrief, offering feedback on how you did. Some things they are not privy to tell you. But their assessment can help you do better in terms of improving the quality of your proposals and help you better prepare for the next one.

Q: How difficult is to obtain security clearance for contracts that have security requirements?
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires a DD Form 254 to be incorporated in every classified contract. It specifies the security requirements and the classification guidance necessary for the contractor (or a subcontractor) to perform on a classified contract. So, under the contract, the contractor has to roll down a DD Form 254, and you can submit credentials for your clearance if you don’t already have a facility clearance or the appropriate clearance for that contract. What I’m finding now – unlike before – is that a lot of government agencies will want you to already have a clearance. You can get it as a subcontractor, if you come under a prime contractor who can roll down the DD 254 requirements, and you can start the process to get the clearance. But, if you don’t have a contract, you’re not going to get the clearance.

Q: How factoring can strengthen your government business:

Systematically, a 30-day mandate may, in practice, extend the payment cycle to 45-plus days. Consider the process of creating invoices internally; submitting them through various government systems, such as Wide Area Work Flow; the approval process; and EFT payment delays. Companies that seek government business need the ability to scale up and down with contract availability, which is why receivables factoring works so well for contractors. It supports ample cash flow that aligns with the accrued timing of your expenses.

Talk to our government contracting experts to learn how Triumph can support your contracting efforts.

Government, Washington

Doing Business With the Federal Government: Interview with Sandra Walls

Sandra Walls is President and CEO of AIL Logistics Solutions, a multimillion-dollar, Memphis-based, service-disabled veteran-, woman- and minority-owned company that provides diverse logistics and technical support solutions to government and commercial clients. A retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, Ms. Walls joined the company after serving 22 years on active duty as a logistics officer, managing supply and fuels accounts while making military history everywhere she commanded. She offers a real-world perspective on government contracting based on leveraging her military experience and built on doing what it takes to excel.

Q: What propelled you into the government-contracting world?
It was a carryover of my military experience; I was in the Air Force for 22 years. I’ve worked in a contracting agency. And my goal in developing my business was to take what I learned on active duty and continue providing those services in a for-profit capacity. Our company was first established by a group of military veterans with the intent of supporting and providing organic support capabilities to the Department of Defense (DOD), primarily in the fuels arena. Our plan from the beginning was to engage in federal business, primarily with the DOD. The business has continued to evolve, although we have diversified and are doing commercial business as well.

Q: How difficult is it to become a government contractor?
It’s actually easy to become a government contractor. You register your business by first obtaining a Dun and Bradstreet number and then entering your business information into SAM.gov, the primary database for vendors doing business with the federal government. That’s a piece of cake. The challenge, as in the commercial world, is doing all of the things required to operate and market your business. The government process can be a little bit longer, and it’s very, very intensive. But once you get started, and you get to understand the process, it becomes easier.

Q: What advice would you give someone who is considering orienting their business toward earning government contracts?
There are pros and cons. On the government side, there are some benefits. For example, when others were having problems during the recession, and most of my business was with the federal government, my contracts did not go away. The worst case is when we do go through budget issues and they still don’t make decisions, but rarely have I had any of my contracts impacted dramatically.

There are other things they do well. When larger companies offer a request for proposal, some are less detailed in specifying what they want to see. For example, government contracts will specify the minimum items expected in a response to their RFP. They also provide their criteria on which they’ll evaluate you. If you miss all that, then it’s bad on you, because they’re telling you upfront what their expectations are. In the commercial world, they may not do that. So oftentimes, when bidding as a small business, people may get thrown out because they don’t have that level of depth and experience in understanding how to write an effective, winning proposal.

However, on the commercial side, I don’t have to deal with the tons and tons of paperwork. I don’t have to wait months for an answer on whether or not I will bid. I don’t find it a challenge waiting on budget decisions to know when I will make an offer. It’s not as painstaking a process.

Q: Do companies that work with the government have a pretty even balance between government contract and other work, or do a majority focus on one area or the other?
Based on the companies I’ve dealt with and met, there’s not a lot of diversity. They’re either all commercial or all federal. On the federal side, there are some programs based on designations such as 8(a) certified small-business, woman-owned, veteran-owned, disabled-veteran owned, minority-owned, Native American-owned, etc. The government must set aside a certain percentage of contracts for businesses with these designations. 8(a) is a wonderful nine-year business development program – I graduated from it last year. It’s another opportunity to grow your business.

But oftentimes, a lot of business owners get into that space and don’t venture outside it. They don’t diversify into the commercial side, so when they graduate from the program, they’re not prepared to compete in the outside world. Some are not following through on its guidance or recommendations, because the program is really structured to support your transition from reliance on 8(a) sole-source contracts. It encourages you to compete in different environments and to diversify your business in both federal and commercial markets. And there’s a plan you should submit nearly every year to address how you’re going to do that.

Q. What types of contracts are most important to your business?
Most of my business is now coming from the commercial side, whereas before more of my business was coming from the federal. I’ve got both sides that I’m working at the same time, and I now have one person who does the government contracting and another who works the commercial contracts.

Q: What are your thoughts on prime contracts? Are they worth pursuing?
They’re worth it. Being a prime contractor is good in that you’re the train driver. I prefer to grow and to be respected as a prime contractor – to stand on my own, to be able to do what I have to do. As you build your experience and your past performance, you’re better positioned to go out on your own, rather than depending on someone else to get you in the game. I’m not against being a subcontractor at all, as long as the money is there, and I’m allowed to do my job. Regardless of whether I’m a prime or a subcontractor, I focus on making sure I’m serving my client and giving them the quality of support and service that they deserve.

Q: What is the value of being a subcontractor versus a prime contractor?
It depends on where you are and the nature of the work you’re doing, but I think it’s always a good idea to try to do some subcontract work. It helps you learn what’s involved, and it’s important to diversify your business. There are definite advantages to being a sub. Work to build a relationship with a prime contractor so that wherever they go, they take you with them. I know a woman in Texas who has grown her business just by being a subcontractor. She’s operating in the $50-$60 million range by forging those relationships.

Part of our strategic goals has been to team with people in reciprocal relationships, where I can be a subcontractor to them, and they can be a subcontractor to me. Large businesses typically cannot bid on a small contract unless they’re in a joint venture/protégé relationship. It pays to position yourself with a company where you can have that reciprocal relationship. That’s ideal.

Also, when you meet a prime contractor, like a large company that’s willing to make you part of their team, make sure you don’t get boxed in. If they see you as a supplier of only one kind of product or service, you’ll end up a one-time player. They should have the confidence in your skill set and your ability to do the work to keep you in their bids.

Q: What challenges are involved in responding to a solicitation?
Initially, the paperwork requirements may be frightening, but once you get into it and understand all the different sections, you get used to it and it’s not as hard. Certain parts of a solicitation never change. For instance, you have to declare your socio-economic certifications, whether you’re woman-owned, minority, service-disabled veteran, in a HUB zone, all of the above. Those are blocks that you check, and some of it is automated and online, so a contracting officer can look up that information or you can submit it with your proposal.

The biggest challenge is responding to the technical piece, normally in Section C – the Statement of Work. That’s where you have to really “answer the mail” – tell them how you’re going to go about doing the job, what processes are you going to put into place to make the system work, or how will you improve their processes or enhance their bottom line. Whatever they ask you to do or provide, do it. If you don’t provide the information requested, you may get kicked out of the running.

Q: Do you have a proposal writing team to handle that work? If so, do you recommend that approach?
We’re not large enough to have that kind of dedicated proposal writing team. Depending on the size of the contract, you can find people who make a living putting together proposals, but in my experience, it’s an expensive undertaking for a small business. As we’ve evolved, we’ve applied that concept internally. We may assign a proposal manager to be responsible for the proposal, to capture the data from different possible areas and then consolidate it into a document that everyone reviews and plays a part in preparing. Now that I have a dedicated person on the government side of the business, he’s helping to pull together proposals and he loves to do it, so that’s brought a lot of value as we’ve grown. And, there are some agencies, like SCORE through the Small Business Administration, that will provide support, but they don’t write the proposal for you. They can provide some guidelines, help direct you, but for the most part, you have to wing it. You learn from experience.

Q: Unless you win a contract, how do you know if your proposals are on-target?
One of the cool things with federal contracts is something I haven’t seen on the commercial side: Contract officers are required by law to give you a debrief, offering feedback on how you did. Some things they are not privy to tell you. But their assessment can help you do better in terms of improving the quality of your proposals and help you better prepare for the next one.

Q: How difficult is to obtain security clearance for contracts that have security requirements?
The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires a DD Form 254 to be incorporated in every classified contract. It specifies the security requirements and the classification guidance necessary for the contractor (or a subcontractor) to perform on a classified contract.

So, under the contract, the contractor has to roll down a DD Form 254, and you can submit credentials for your clearance if you don’t already have a facility clearance or the appropriate clearance for that contract. What I’m finding now – unlike before – is that a lot of government agencies will want you to already have a clearance. You can get it as a subcontractor, if you come under a prime contractor who can roll down the DD 254 requirements, and you can start the process to get the clearance. But, if you don’t have a contract, you’re not going to get the clearance.

Become a Government Contractor

Should I Become a Government Contractor?

Last year, the U.S. government shelled out $447.6 billion in contract spending. Want a piece of that action? Becoming a government contractor definitely has its benefits, but if you’re thinking about taking the plunge into performing government work, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons first.

Pros of Becoming a Government Contractor:

Compensation
In general, government contractors can expect to be paid more than government workers doing the same job. However, since contractors are not government employees, you won’t get the generous benefits for which full-time government workers are eligible. If you own a small business and you’re considering applying for a government contract, you can expect to receive fair market compensation or better — but you will be competing with other vendors who submit bids for the job.

Fortunately, you can find out exactly how much the government has paid for similar jobs in the past by searching the Federal Procurement Data System. (Unlike private sector customers, the government shares its spending history. After all, it’s funded by taxpayers — so they figure you have a right to know how much you spent.)

Flexibility
If you like the idea of working for the world’s largest employer, but don’t want to be employed by the government full-time, contracting can be a great way to go. You do have to abide by the terms of your government contract. However, once the work is over, you can choose to end your business relationship with the government if you decide it’s not for you. Or, you may wish to court the business of a different government agency. The flexibility of government contracting, compared to full-time government employment, lets you test the waters of performing government work, with relatively little risk.

Free Resources
The government wants to work with small businesses — and you’ll find a bevy of online resources available to help you navigate the process of government contracting. For starters, try the Federal Business Opportunities website, the Government Contracting Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and https://www.fbo.gov.

Opportunities for Special Designation Businesses
Are you a Woman-Owned Small Businesses, Small Disadvantaged Business, or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses? These are just a few of the special designations that can qualify you for preferred consideration when applying for government contract work. Learn more by visiting the website for the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.

Excellent Payment History
The government has a high credit rating, and a solid history of paying its bills. For small businesses, this is a big benefit, providing reliable cash flow.

Cons of Becoming a Government Contractor:

Slow Payment
While the government is a reliable customer, it can be a bit slow to pay. Fortunately, companies like Triumph Business Capital can help with cash flow while you’re waiting for payments to arrive. We specialize in providing invoice factoring for government contractors, and can get you paid up-front, which can help with interim expenses.

Rules and Regulations
It’s no secret: government contracting involves a lot of rules. When you become a government contractor, you will be asked to abide by precise specifications when responding to the Request for Proposal (RFP) — but that’s just the beginning. If you’re approved for the government contract, you may have to submit to government-approved accounting systems, purchasing methods, project management tools, and more. It can be helpful to evaluate the costs of complying with these regulations, weighed against the benefits of financial gain, before applying for any government contract.

Auditing
Your financial records may be audited at any time by the government — but becoming a government contractor may expose you to even more scrutiny. Be sure your ducks are in a row, and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

No Stability
As with any contract work, government contractors can be fired at any time. Because of this, being a government contractor does not imply the same stability often associated with being a government employee. However, if you are able to fulfill the terms of your contact to the government’s satisfaction, it’s unlikely that you will be let go before its completion.

Triumph Business Capital provides a range of services for government contractors. If you decide that government contracting is a good fit, let us know how we can help.

Government Contractors

Tips to Writing a Flawless Government Proposal

Thousands of rules and regulations. Hundreds of line items and questions. One blank sheet of paper. If you’re dreading the process of writing a government proposal, read on. These quick tips will help you get started writing the best government proposal possible — and they maybe even help you get the job.

Keep it Short and Simple (KISS).

What’s more daunting than writing a detailed, multi-page government proposal? Reading dozens of responses, and choosing the best one. The government purchasers who will be scoring your proposal don’t want to read a long, boring document any more than you want to write one. So, get to the point quickly, and get the reader’s attention so that your proposal stands out from the rest.

Read the Request for Proposal (RFP). Then, read it again.

One challenge of responding to government RFPs is making sure you adhere to all the details. Because missing items may disqualify you, it’s important to read the RFP carefully and use it as a guide to craft your proposal. To ensure all requests are met, we recommend reading the RFP again after you write your first draft, and double-checking that you have answered each item.

Don’t just write a proposal. Tell a story.

Proposals are boring — but a story? Now, that’s interesting. Once you understand what the government agency is looking for, it can be helpful to think of your response as a story about how your company can help meet the agency’s goals. And, just like when you were assigned to write a story in school, that means answering the “5 Ws”: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

Who?
The star of this story isn’t you, but your customer. When writing your proposal, think about how it benefits them, taking the focus off of you and placing it on their needs. Most people (and companies) are more interested in talking about themselves than they are in hearing about others, so this approach can be highly effective. An added benefit? Focusing on others can take the pressure off of you.

What?
What does your customer need, and how can you help provide it? Think about the problem, and explain how your company can provide the best solution.

When?
Timelines are critical when working with the government — so be sure to pay careful attention to deadlines and objectives. Can your company provide added value by exceeding deadline requests and delivering more quickly? If so, be sure to highlight these capabilities.

Where?
Does your company’s location position you well to provide the requested service? Will logistics play an important factor? Are your facilities compliant with government requirements? These are all important points to consider.

Why?
In order to rise above the rest, your proposal needs to capture the attention of your target audience, and show how you bring more value than competitors. Be sure to point out what makes you different (and better) than the competition. (HINT: You may want to include “why” statements at the beginning and end of your proposal.)

And How?
Once you’ve addressed the 5 Whys, explain how you will fulfill the proposal. Include descriptions of your processes and best practices, and how they add value.

The End.
A good story ties up loose ends neatly, and wraps things up on a positive note. Summarize your proposal in a sentence or two, and thank the evaluator for their time and consideration.

On that note, we’ll close this blog by thanking you for reading it — and, of course, wishing you luck as you write your government proposal.

Factoring Companies

How to Successfully Obtain 8(a) Certification

Thanks to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program, economically and socially disadvantaged business owners can land new opportunities to participate in America’s mainstream economic engine. Success in obtaining 8(a) certification can propel the growth of eligible small businesses through lucrative opportunities in the federal marketplace.

8(a) eligibility guidelines

It’s certainly well worth the time and investment to achieve certification. To be considered, your business must meet stringent requirements and demonstrate that one or more of the people who own it are socially and economically disadvantaged.

  • Disadvantaged individuals must own at least 51 percent or more of the firm.
  • They must be an American citizen, by birth or naturalization.
  • They must have direct ownership of the business, which cannot be owned through another firm trust (with the exception of certain living trusts).
  • The principal owners must demonstrate good character.
  • The full-time managers must meet the SBA requirement for disadvantage, by proving both social disadvantage and economic disadvantage.
  • The firm must be a small business.
  • The small business must have the potential to be successful.

The following individuals are presumed socially disadvantaged (called “presumed groups”):

  • Asian Pacific Americans
  • Black Americans
  • Subcontinent Asian American
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Native Americans

However, other individuals who are not members of one of the presumed groups may be found eligible and admitted into the program on a case-by-case basis.

How to apply

Your application requires numerous supporting documents. Contact your local SBA office or resource provider to get free help with your application package. The SBA also offers online training to assist you. Here are key steps to complete the application process:

  1. Take a look at the SBA online course Pre 8(a) Business Development Program Module 1 – Setting Expectations to verify if the 8(a) program is right for you and your small business.
  2. Obtain official copies of all current and state-approved governing documents such as licenses, permits and articles.
  3. Be sure to get a free DUNS number from Dun and Bradstreet either online or by calling 1.866.705.5711.
  4. Set up a free IRS Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  5. Establish a business profile in the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM).
  6. Get a free SBA General Login System user ID.
  7. Begin the free 8(a) online application.

How 8(a) grows your small business

After your small business becomes certified, you’ll find a wealth of resources available. These include specialized business training, assistance with marketing, as well as executive-level development. Other resources that you may qualify for include SBA-guaranteed loans and bonding assistance. In addition, sole-source contracts (not to exceed $4 million for services and goods and $6.5 million for manufacturing) are available.

Mentors give back through the 8(a) protégé program

Wouldn’t it be helpful to have someone to show you the ropes to achieve success in your own right? Well, the 8(a) Business Development (8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Program) does just that. Successful firms offer various forms of assistance and support to small businesses. As a result of this mentoring partnership, your small business can be more competitive and more successful while boosting our nation’s economic engine.

Monitoring businesses to help them succeed

SBA district offices keep tabs on your business to help ensure you are meeting your goals. They also measure progress in the following areas:

  • Systemic evaluations
  • Annual reviews
  • Business planning

Collaborating for 8(a) success

Once you get your feet wet landing a federal contract, you may want to team up with other 8(a) certified firms to go after larger contracts that are beyond the capacity of your firm. That’s what’s so great about completing the 8(a) certification program and being approved for federal contracts. The sky is the limit! Want to learn more? Tap into our social media resources for more government contracting guidance for your small business:

Follow our government contracting tips on Twitter
Find our government contracting suggestions on Facebook
Check out our contracting posts on Google Plus

Factoring Contractors

Government Contracting–Rules You Need to Know

Want to learn all the rules of government contracting? How much time do you have?

If you’re looking for a quick list of rules for bidding on a government job, I’ve got good news and bad news. Let’s start with the good: if you’re a small business, the government wants to make things easier on you. They have set aside funds for small businesses, hired representatives to help you, and even simplified the approval process for small business government contracting. The bad news? The basic rulebook for government contracting is still over a thousand pages long. Plus, separate agencies may have their own addendums. Add the sea of “helpful resources for government contracting” available online, and it can be hard to know where to start.

While we can’t cover all the rules in this blog, we will list a few of the most important ones, along with a few links and resources to point you in the right direction, and help cut through the clutter.

1. The FAR

First things first: read the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), otherwise known as “The Bible” of government contracting. This is the thousand-page document I was telling you about, and it contains all the rules governing the government purchasing process. Except the agency-specific supplements, which can also be thousands of pages long. Go ahead, read it. I’ll wait.

What? You’re busy? OK then, try these Quick Tips first:

  • Ask the Agency.
    If you don’t have time to read every line right now, you can ask the specific agency issuing the request for proposal (RFP) you’re interested in to let you know which sections apply to the contract. Also, ask if there is a separate agency acquisition supplement you need to review.
  • P.S.
    Some agencies, like the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), are not bound by the FAR, and have their own acquisition guidelines. That’s one more reason to ask which rules to review.
  • Hit the Highlights.
    The most important parts of the FAR for small business are Part 19, Small Business Programs, and Part 52, which overviews the standard terms and conditions for government contracts. Read these first.

2. The Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration (SBA) exists to help small businesses in America grow — and that includes helping you understand the FAR and other rules governing government contracting. Their website is packed with useful information, but deciding what to read first can be overwhelming. Below are a few shortcuts to some of their top resources, to help you learn the rules faster:

  • Rules for Getting Started
    To be a government contractor, you’ll need to get Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S® Number, register your business with the System of Award Management (SAM), find the correct North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code, and more. We could list all the rules, but the SBA has already done that for you in this quick, user-friendly online article.
  • Free Online Courses
    The SBA has created free online training for small businesses like yours. Here’s a link to their course listing on government contracting for small businesses. From understanding the FAR to learning eligibility requirements for special business designations, these courses make following the rules a lot easier.
  • Federal Contracts: Overview of Responsibilities
    This article provides an overview of some of the terms and conditions unique to federal contracts. (Hint: it’s less than a thousand pages.)

3. Rules (and Benefits) for Small Business Programs

If your business qualifies, you may be able to apply for certification in one of these small business programs, which can provide advantages in securing government work. Learn the rules, and find out how to get certified, at sba.gov:

  • Small Business (SB)
  • Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
  • Small Disadvantaged Business 8(A) Certified [8(A)]
  • Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZONE)
  • Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB)
  • Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SD-VOSB)

4. Quick Tips for Small Business Government Contracting

Triumph Business Capital can be a great resource for helping your small business get the funding you need to secure government contracting work. Call and ask for Blaine Waugh if you have any questions — and check out these social sites for more tips:

Twitter
Facebook
Google Plus

Government Contractor Financing

10 Most Frequently Asked Government Contracting Questions

You’ve got to spend money to make money — and the U.S. government does both. Literally. As the world’s largest purchaser, the government spends billions every year. However, the only thing it makes is money. That means the government relies on private businesses, large and small, for almost everything else. Curious about government contracting yet? If you want to learn more, read on. We’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about government contracting, especially for small businesses.

1. Is my business too small to work with the government?

No — as a matter of fact, the government is required to work with small businesses. Based on Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) guidelines, contracts under $150,000 are automatically set aside for small businesses. As long as the government can get enough competitive bids from qualified companies, every effort will be made to award these contracts to small businesses.

2. Does the government buy the types of products or services I offer?

Probably — as the world’s largest purchaser, the government buys all kinds of goods and services. However, the only way to know for sure is to ask (or look online.) You’ll save a lot of time if you learn how to market your business to the right government agencies. A quick way to find out is to perform a keyword search of the databases that list current and recent government procurements, and identify which agencies purchase the products or services you offer most often. Try these resources:

3. Where can I find new opportunities for government contract work?

Contract requirements and awards for bids greater than $25,000 are posted to the Federal Business Opportunities website, at https://www.fbo.gov.

4. What is an RFQ?

The acronym RFQ stands for “request for quote.” It may also be written as RFP, or “request for proposal.” As applied to government contracting, the RFQ is a document that outlines a government agency’s specific requirements and criteria from vendors who wish to present offers. Be sure to read the RFQ carefully, and respond completely and accurately to every requested item. Skipping details can disqualify you in government contracting.

5. Do I have to register with the government in order to win a contract? How do I apply?

Yes. There are several steps involved in becoming a government contractor, but as long as you follow them accurately, it’s not a difficult process. For a shortcut in learning the basics of becoming a small business government contractor, visit the Small Business Administration’s Getting Started page, which includes detailed information and instructions.

6. Do I qualify for special designations, such as a Woman-Owned Small Business?

There are a number of designations that can help small businesses succeed, including Woman-Owned Small Businesses, Small Disadvantaged Businesses, and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Businesses. Find out more about each of these designations here.

7. Are there resources available to help me learn more about government contracting?

Yes. In fact, there are so many, it’s tough to list them all. Here are the most useful ones we’ve found:

8. Is there someone I can talk to help me sort through all of this information?

One of the best resources for small businesses to learn more about government contracting is the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, or OSDBU. Securing government contracts for small business is their job, so feel free to contact them with any questions.

9. How long will I have to wait to get paid?

Most government agencies require 30 days or longer to submit payment. Ask the agency with whom you’re working for more specific information.

10. How can I bridge the gap between paying for employees or resources, and receiving payment from the government?

If you need additional funding to cover payroll, insurance, or other expenses, contact Blaine Waugh, at Triumph Business Capital.

Get more quick tips on how to win government contracts through these social sites:

Twitter
Facebook
Google Plus

Win a Government Contract

How to Bid for a Government Contract … and WIN

It should come as no surprise that the U.S. Government is our nation’s biggest purchaser of goods and services. What is impressive is that 23 percent of that spending, amounting to $115 billion, is set aside specifically for small businesses. So, what does it take to bid on government contracts and win your share of business?

How to Bid for Projects

Step 1 – Get prepped and qualified

  • Ensure your business qualifies as a small business for government contracting purposes. Refer to the U.S. Small Business Administration website for size requirements by industry.
  • If you haven’t already done so, register online with the IRS for an employer identification number. There’s no cost and you’ll receive your EIN immediately.
  • Register online with Dun and Bradstreet for a free, immediate DUNS number. This unique business identification number is required to bid on federal contracts.
  • You will also need to obtain the classification codes for the product(s) or service(s) you offer. Find Federal Supply Codes, known as NAICS codes, online. Department of Defense Product Service Codes can be found here.
  • Once you have your codes, register your company with the System for Award Management (SAM), so it can compete for government contracts.

Step 2 – Get on agency bidding lists

Locate the agency that offers the government contracts you seek and ask to be added to its bidders’ list. Some federal, state or local agencies may require you to prequalify and provide your business profile information. At the local level, it may just take a phone call or a letter asking to be added to the proposal list.

Step 3 – Obtain applicable certifications

Minority, veteran, disadvantaged or women-owned enterprises can receive extra points during the bid review. However, government agencies typically require certification for such a business designation. Your business can obtain this certification through the Small Business Administration, your state’s business offices, or tribal and local governments.

Step 4 – Attend bid meetings

Once you’re on its proposal list and a contract comes up for bid, the agency sends out an announcement about the proposal. Sometimes it requires that businesses attend an initial meeting before they are eligible to bid on the contract, allowing you to ask questions and clarify any issues about the proposal or process. Afterwards, if your business is qualified, it will receive a request for proposal (RFP).

Step 5 – Submit your bid based on the Request for Proposal

Respond to each requirement outlined in the IFB in your bid. Also make sure it is clear and spotlights the advantages of working with your company.

Step 6 – Bid Review

Government agencies award contracts based upon a review and scoring of the proposals submitted weighted as identified in the RFP. You may also have to participate in an oral interview to answer questions posed by the panel.

Step 7 – Contract Award

After final review and scoring, the government agency awards the contract based on its internal criteria. A company that offers experience, stability and the best prices is the most likely candidate to win the contract. Be aware that government contracts are known for slow start-ups and lengthy payment processes, so be prepared for those.

How to win government contracts:

Here are some tried-and-true tips from successful small-business contractors:

Dip your toe in first – start small.

Bid on projects worth as little as $3,000 just to get your foot in the door.

Begin by subcontracting.

Identify larger prime contractors and offer to provide services to them.

Prepare to invest – and be persistent

Winning a government contract takes more prep work than you may think. And, you may have to bid on multiple projects before you land a contract.

Investigate earmarks

Determine if your business qualifies as a subcontracting area reserved for a specific percentage of the government’s annual spending. These earmarks include:

  • Veteran-owned small businesses – 7%
  • Women-owned and/or disadvantaged small businesses – 5%
  • Companies operating in economically distressed HUBZones – 5%

Cultivate one-to-one relationships with people who can help

There are many opportunities to meet with federal officers who make the contract decisions. Make it a priority to build relationships with government procurement officers and liaisons from the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) who will lobby on your behalf.

Combine forces

Another great way to get a jumpstart is to bid for contracts as part of a team – another great reason to forge partnerships with other small contractors.

Getting a Government Contract

The Secret to Getting the Right Government Contract

$100 billion is on the table. Will you take it? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the government awards nearly $100 billion in contracts to small businesses every year. However, all government contracts are not created equal. Some contracts may not pay enough to be worth your while, or they may have unrealistic deadlines. Others are set aside for specific business types, for which you may not qualify. If you want to learn more about how to get the right government contract — read on. These secrets will help make sure you’re not leaving money on the table.

1. Grow your network.

Government purchasing agents are people, too — and they are more likely to do business with someone they know and trust. If the request for proposal (RFP) you’re answering includes a pre-bid conference, be sure to attend and ask questions. Introduce yourself to key individuals, such as procurement officers, technical experts, and even the competition. Even if you don’t get the job, an introduction today might lead to a referral or collaboration tomorrow. You can also attend government and industry-sponsored trade shows and conferences, where you can learn more tips about how to become a government contractor, and form relationships that could change the trajectory of your small business.

2. Learn to say no.

The U.S. government posts 19,000 Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) jobs each year, according to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) — so don’t stress if you don’t meet the qualifications for an individual contract. Here are a few opportunities to avoid:

  • Contracts outside your realm of expertise: If the job doesn’t match your services, or your size, just say no. (Or, consider partnering with a competitor for larger jobs.)
  • Jobs with unrealistic deadlines: No matter how bad you want the contract, don’t accept it if you can’t deliver results on time. Doing so will jeopardize future government employment opportunities.
  • Bids that aren’t in line with your vision: Government contracts require a significant commitment. Make sure it’s worth the investment.

3. Market Your Small Business to the Right Agencies.

Focus your efforts on the government agencies that buy the types of services you offer. For example, if you are a paving company, market your services to the Department of Transportation. If you’re in healthcare, consider the Department of Health and Human Services. Not sure which agency makes the most sense for your line of work? Visit the Federal Business Opportunities website and click the “Agencies” tab for a searchable, alphabetical listing of agencies. (Hint: you can enter keywords and see which agencies match.) Once you identify two or three agencies that align with your expertise, market your services to those agencies directly.

4. Remember the details.

When it comes to the government, it’s their way or no deal on the highway contract. Government contracting work is known for its very specific and strict bid format requirements, so be sure to read the RFP carefully, and follow all required processes, deadlines and formats. A good rule of thumb is to read the RFP once, before you submit your proposal, noting any important timelines or requirements in a checklist. Then, read it again just before submitting, checking that requirements are met. If you have questions, or you aren’t sure whether you qualify, just ask.

As the world’s largest buyer, the U.S. government can open new doors for your small business. However, you may need access to working capital to pay employees, vendors and subcontractors while you’re waiting for government payments to arrive. Talk to Blaine Waugh at Triumph Business Capital — they specialize in funding small business government contractors.