I am writing this as a follow up to a piece I found on bizfiling.com labeled “is there real government contracting opportunity for you?”
My sources for my findings come from various government websites such as data.gov, gsa.gov, sba.gov, dod.gov, dot.gov, and others.
As a business owner myself, I am always looking for opportunity to grow. Some of us sell b2b and some of us sell b2c and or both. In any market you want growth. That is how you survive. “When I was a kid my dad would tell me that regardless of what I choose to do in life, make sure you are the best at it”. As I reflect on our business and where it started I tend to laugh. We are your typical small business looking to make its way in this highly competitive world. We chose to specialize in government contract consulting selling direct to businesses nationwide and globally. When I started NCI it was me and one employee. We got our first sale within the first week in business and started growing from that point. After the first month we were up to five employees. After the second month we were at twelve employees and here we are approaching our third year in business and we have had as many as forty two employees. Hiring adds additional overhead so making sure that sales were coming in to offset the overhead was essential.
Now, is there a real government contracting opportunity for you? Simply the short version is yes, but I will explain. Most of our clients are small to medium sized. We solicit them and consult on different avenues to take one down using the government as a marketplace. Becoming a government contractor in one hand is pretty easy if you want to write bids all day and compete with everyone else in the world that does what you do and hope your price is the best. However, what we suggest to our clients is to explore the path of GSA Schedules. The GSA Schedules program is an IDIQ contract (indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity) that can help you not only break into the government sector, but soar among your competitors who have not have the opportunity or know how to become certified. This program alone is the easiest way to get into government contracting if you know what you’re doing. If your company is considered a set aside…you have an even better opportunity in front of you. The SBA puts out an annual set aside scorecard to track the agencies and how much in government dollars get allocated to small businesses, women owned businesses, veteran and disabled veteran owned businesses and minority owned businesses. The last one that I have seen shows that 42% of the budget has gone to the above type firms. With over 1.7 Billion spent just within the GSA annually 42% is a pretty good number. So if this is so great why doesn’t every business become a GSA certified company? I often wonder the same thing to be completely honest with you. This is a win win for both business and the government. Don’t get me wrong here as not every business qualifies, but most do. If you sell a product or service and have off the shelf pricing, have been in business at least a year and can show evidence of viable sales over the last year you could qualify. Here at NCI we usually want to take on clients that have been in business at least two years so that we can speed up the process and get them approved so that they can start making money. We have helped business with less than a year in business but it is really case by case. If they sell something new and innovative or green then yes we can make a case for them, but other than that we look for two years minimum. So, selling to the government is viable and there is a lot of upside to it. Becoming GSA Certified is great for your firm, but the question we are always asked once a company becomes certified is now what? Unfortunately, most other firms in our industry would tell you that you will not need to do anything just sit back and watch the sales come in. THAT IS NOT TRUE. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a prospect tell me that he/she was told by abc company (fictional) that getting the GSA Schedule approved was all they needed to do. Think about when you first opened your business. How did you get your first, second, third, etc clients? You had to market yourself to them. It is the same thing in the Government Sector. “Out of sight is out of mind”. Okay, I have become GSA Certified and I am marketing, but who do I market to? You should be looking at what you are selling and target only agencies that buy what you sell. I see a lot of our competitor’s just selling email marketing campaigns that go to people that is not a government buyer, retired, or they do not buy what those clients offer. What a waste of time and money! The key here is to have a targeted list of those buyers who are actively searching for certified businesses that can fulfill an agencies need. Literally, there are over 4000 new contracts that go out for solicitation daily. Take a look at fedbizops.gov and you will see what I mean. The GSA is a platform for business to connect with government through a streamlined process. A lot of times contracts that are below the 150K threshold go direct to a GSA Schedule holder with a simple point, click, and buy via the GSA’s online portal www.gsaadvantage.gov. Here if you sell products you are required to post them online for all the buyers to see. What about the good old boy network? Well, like I said before, you need to be a schedule holder certified first than get your name in front of the buyer(s). This will not happen overnight either. You will have to work at this. Our clients see quicker results because we are proactive with our marketing efforts and start getting their name out to the buyers who buy what they sell from day one. Not to toot our own horn or anything but, I recently pulled a report on all of our 900 or so clients and found that because of our efforts in one way or another these clients combined have posted over 383 Million in sales over the last 2.5 years. That makes our average client yield 425K per year. Not bad for the small onetime fee we require to process the GSA Schedule in full for them or the Fee for marketing. We also have helped businesses that currently hold GSA Schedules. We have taken companies from zero sales to millions in less than a year because of our business intelligence. If you have a GSA Schedule and are doing ok with it and feel you do not need our help that is fine. I would ask you one question. Do you know if you qualify for any other government contracting vehicles? There are others available and you have the experience so why not get as much as you can?