The Contender

Billions of dollars are available in government contracting. Are you ready to do business?

Consult your resources. Procurement and Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) assist minority and women-owned businesses in marketing to the government. For a listing of centers near you, visit Aptac-us.org. The SBA also offers resource guides and a free online training course. Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), a not-for-profit public policy organization and the nation’s largest bipartisan women’s business group, and American Express OPEN have teamed up to increase the number of contracts awarded to women-owned businesses (The Equity in Contracting for Women Act stipulates that federal agencies award 5% of all contracts to women-owned business. But nine years later that target has reached only 3.4%.)  Through seminars, events, and online resources, American Express OPEN and WIPP’s joint venture, Give Me 5, is a national program for women business owners that breaks down the process of applying for federal contracts.

Develop relationships. Going after a government contract is more than just bidding; you have to market your business to your target agency as well as cultivate relationships with procurement officers. Maximize government outreach events such as agency procurement fairs, contractor matchmaking sessions, and conferences.

Get certified. The SBA’s certification programs will increase your odds of winning a contract. You can self-certify as a service-disabled veteran-owned small business, a veteran-owned small business, or a woman-owned small business. You can also sign up for one of the SBA certification programs, which include the 8(a) Business Development program, the HUBZone program (provides federal contracting opportunities for qualified small businesses located in distressed areas), and the Small Disadvantaged Business certification program.

Get registered. To start the process of becoming a federal contractor, you will first have to register your business in the Central Contractor Registration database. The CCR is an online business portal that helps small businesses market their goods and services to the government. Federal agencies and prime contractors scan the database to find potential vendors. The CCR is your business’ résumé, so be sure to fill out the mandatory and optional fields to heighten your chances of being sought out by procurement officers and agencies.

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