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:
- Federal Procurement Data System
- Federal Business Opportunities
- Government Contracting Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
- General Services Administration’s Office of Business Support
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:
- Small Business Administration
- Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
- The General Services Administration’s Office of Business Support
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.
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