â€œIf youâ€™re not a patient person, this is not a market for you. In part thatâ€™s because of all the rules and regulations, itâ€™s also because government buyers, like everybody else, like to purchase from companies they know and products that have worked before,â€ asserts Amtower. â€œSo, if youâ€™re new to the market, a fair amount of your time has to be devoted to becoming known. Itâ€™s a matter of research, resources and relationships.â€
Determine which agencies buy what you sell:
After that, determine, through research, what kind of contracts are going to be necessary. There are 28 cities in the country outside of DC known as federal executive board cities, where there is a high cluster of federal activity in major metros. Amtower recommends the Federal Executive Boards, which lists the locations for all the federal agencies outside of the DC area. Also, the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business utilization are located in every federal agency that help small businesses understand what that agency buys.
Learn how the government buys products and services:
To help with this are government-sponsored procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs). Amtower recommends contacting your local PTAC to get a baseline understanding about doing business with the Federal government. There are about 90 procurement technical assistance centers around the country. They offer low cost and no cost basic level classes. He also recommends the GSA eLibrary. Amtower says this is the best site to research the GSA Schedules to see what the government buys, what schedule your business needs to be on and find out who the competitors are.
Make sure your accounts are properly invoiced:
According to Amtower, itâ€™s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to not receive payment for services rendered to the government due to improper billing. â€œYou have read the terms and conditions of your contract and invoice the government the way they want to be invoiced,â€ he advises.
Identify the small business officer:
Just about every agency in the government has an office of small and disadvantaged business utilization (OSDBU). The OSDBU is an organization of Federal small business program officials that meets monthly to discuss small business program initiatives, processes and outreach events that permit their respective agencies to increase their utilization of small businesses.