Opportunities For Smaller And Diverse Businesses
- Government of Canada is one of the largest buyers of goods and services in Canada
- Buys a wide range of goods and services each year, with contract values ranging from hundreds to billions of dollars
- Awarded the majority of contracts to smaller businesses in Canada from 2017 to 2020, including 74% of contracts valued at $1 million or less
Understanding How Gsa Buys
When commercial businesses sell goods and services to the federal government through GSA, different kinds of contracts are used for different purposes. The primary contract vehicle is the GSA Schedules, or Multiple Award Schedules, program.
Learn more about the Schedules and contracts used by GSA.
Where current contracts do not meet evolving needs, GSA will seek new procurement vehicles. As always, GSA will seek to promote competition in the marketplace, and strive to maintain outreach and support to small business. Companies who do not currently hold a GSA contract can still participate by seeking subcontracting opportunities with current contract holders.
Learn how to get started as a government contractor.
How Do I Register As A Small Business With The Federal Government
The federal government is one of the biggest clients of small businesses in the U.S. The Small Business Administration reports that the federal government purchases more than $425 billion each year in products and services from U.S. small businesses. For your business to be recognized by the federal government, you must register your small business with the appropriate venues.
Visit the Dun & Bradstreet website to obtain a DUNS number for your business . Allow approximately 30 days for your newly issued DUNS number to arrive. Keep this number in a secure place, as it serves as your business social security number.
Classify your business before you register it for government contracts. Visit the U.S. Census Bureau’s website and take note of your businesss NAICS code .
Use the U.S. Small Business Administrations Table of Small Business Size Standards to identify your business size standard . For accurate sizing information, use your NAICS code when obtaining your size standard.
Secure a federal tax identification number for your business, if you have not already gotten one. Visit the Internal Revenue Service’s website at irs.gov to complete the application. Have a pen handy to make note of your number, as it is issued immediately after the application is completed.
Obtain the Standard Industrial Classification codes for your business. Go to the U.S. Department of States website to obtain these codes.
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Additional Resources For Government Contracts
We hope this has been a useful primer on how to obtain government contracts for small business, but theres certainly more to be learned within this expansive and complex industry. Fortunately, the SBA and other federal agencies have gone to great lengths to provide valuable resources for small business owners interested in federal contracts. Here are a few of the most useful resources we recommend.
How A Tiny Startup Accidentally Discovered The B2g Business Model
SeamlessDocs didnt set out to revolutionize the way governments digitally process forms. The startupwhose software instantly converts PDF or Word docs into dynamic, smart, cloud-based formswasn’t even thinking about the government.
They began like many other startupswith a vision, a couple of people, and a rough product. They had found some traction with small businesses, but not enough to achieve the kind of growth they aspired towards.
The turning point came two years ago, as , the companys Director of Sales, was working late into the night. The phone started ringing: Hey, can I get a demo? I work for the state of Tennessee. Im in the HR Department, and was wondering if I can use your electronic signatures on my forms.This call changed the future of the company.
Suddenly, everything clicked. Instead of selling to small businesses with a few forms each, SeamlessDocs looked at the government, and saw an industry drowning in permits, registrations, applications, contracts, and surveys. They saw a sector ripe for disruption, and the perfect market for their product.
The whole team sat down and decided to radically shift gears in their sales strategy to dominate one industry: the government.
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Four Stages Of Closing The Government
SeamlessDocs saw a huge opportunity for its business to grow and thrive by selling to governments. But one of the major obstacles getting off the ground in the B2G space was that there werent a whole lot of precedents for what they were doing. They had a lot of questions, but not many answers. The company took a big risk by focusing on government sales. They set out to sell the dream, and they got there through trial and error. What they learned redefined their business, and they were able to create a scalable, repeatable process for B2G sales that continues to drive growth for the company today.
Sell The Hamburger Not The Cow
Okay, not literally. But think about how government views the world. As anyone who has ever observed a political campaign understands, candidates tend to think in terms of inputs. Those who want to be viewed as tough on crime will propose spending more money on prisons those who want to be seen as compassionate will offer more money for social programs. This preoccupation with inputs does not end with the election. Following the lead of campaign rhetoric, and using government accounting systems, government managers generally think in terms of how to purchase inputs. Hungry for a hamburger, government buys a bun, some ketchup, and a cow.
The best opportunity for government to achieve big savings, and therefore for business to earn the best return, occurs when government purchases the private sectors creativity and management expertise. In other words, both parties benefit the most when government purchases outputs instead of inputs. So smart businesses are well advised to sell the hamburger. Let me explain with a couple of examples.
Both the public sector and the private sector benefit the most when government purchases outputs instead of inputs.
Corrections Corporation of America submitted a winning proposal that completely changed the terms of the public debate about jails.
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How To Do Business With The Federal Government
- Recorded Webinar
- Date & Time: May 8, 2019, 12:30pm EDT
- Event Language: English
Viewing this webinar requires some basic information. This data is only used within SCORE and will not be distributed to any third parties.
The key to doing business with the federal government utilizing SBAs programs is understanding how they fit for you.
This webinar, presented by Francine Miller with the SBA, will give you an overview of SBA small business program eligibilities and additional small business tools to assist in gaining access to federal procurements.
In this session you will:
- Understand SBAs Small business government contracting and business development programs
- Know how to market your business and identify federal opportunities
- Distinguish between Prime and Subcontracting Relationships
- Learn about what resources are available to assist you
Download the webinar transcript.
The U.S. Small Business Administration provides financial, technical and management assistance to help Americans start, run and grow their businesses. SCORE is a resource partner with the SBA. The SBA administers a Congressional grant which provides SCORE with funding. SCORE volunteers work with the SBA to provide small business mentoring and training to entrepreneurs through SBA offices.
Publications Procurement Conferences And Counseling Services Provide Government Contracting Assistance
The government issues a large number of publications to assist small businesses, but we’re only going to mention the most useful ones. You can order these from the Government Printing Office for a fee or you can go to a government website and read or print it. If you go to a web site, try looking under “publications” or “help” to see what they have to offer.
- Selling to the Military: This publication covers general information about items purchased by the military. It also gives locations of the buying offices and a phone number for the Small Business Office.
- Small Business Specialists for DoD: Here is a listing of names, addresses, and phone numbers for all the resources you need to do business with the Department of Defense.
- The General Services Administration has eliminated its printed publication about doing business with the GSA in favor of web-based information.
- Participating in VA Acquisition Program: Here is a fact sheet that covers general information about how and what the Veterans Administration buys.
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Procurement Assistance And Support
- Veteran Institute for Procurement is a training and assistance program established by the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce to help Veteran-owned businesses to access government contracts.
- helps companies to identify, bid and perform on government contracts with federal, state, and local government.
I: The Government Definition Of A Small Business
Everyone knows that there is a big size difference between a major corporation such as General Motors and the locally-owned convenience store on the corner. But where does your business fit in? Is it “small”, and if so, what happens when your business grows? When does it cease to be small?
The designation is important when you begin to deal with the Department of the Treasury and other federal and state governments. Because many of the programs and services we offer are targeted specifically toward “small” businesses, a definition of the possible participants is necessary.
The Small Business Administration has taken the lead in defining what constitutes a small business in the eyes of the federal government, and the SBAs definition is the most widely used.
This body of definitions is called “size standards” and can be found in Title 13 of the Code of Federal Regulations , Part 121. Small business is defined using size guidelines for the different categories of business enterprises, which include agricultural production, communications, manufacturing, retail, service, transportation and warehousing, and wholesale. Subcategories are included under each of these headings.
Because the body of definitions is complex and constantly changing, expert advice is essential to determine whether your business is “small.” For more information, please contact the Small Business Administration or examine a listing of NAIC codes.
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Help From Counseling Services
If you need more personalized, ongoing assistance and advice, you can get it through government-sponsored or commercial counseling services. You can also get answers to questions and problems your business may be facing by joining a professional association.
Valuable resources available to a small business include Procurement Technical Assistance Centers , which may be found all over the country. They are frequently associated with educational institutions. Commercial counseling services can also provide, but be sure you understand the economics of using one. There is also a government-backed membership organization called the National Contracts Management Association.
Procurement Technical Assistance Centers. The Procurement Technical Assistance Program started in 1985 to help the Department of Defense place contracts in areas of the country that needed an influx of federal dollars. Although it has never been called an economic development program, it works like one to some extent.
Through cooperative agreements, the federal government enters into a cost-sharing arrangement with a state or local government or not-for-profit organization to provide general counseling services to businesses seeking government contracts. Its original purpose was only to help with military contracting and with areas of high unemployment, but over the years it has expanded to provide assistance to businesses wanting to do or doing business at the federal, state or local level.
Contracting With The Government Of Canada
- PSPC is the main procurement arm of the federal government
- It is important that all procurement activities be conducted in an open, fair and transparent manner, and that all suppliers have an equal chance at doing business with us
- Federal laws and regulations as well as Treasury Board of Canada policies guide the Government of Canadas procurement process
Note: Any contracted personnel accessing a federal government workplace must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of November 15, 2021. For more information, visit COVID-19 vaccination requirement for supplier personnel.
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The Government Is The Worlds Largest Buyer
With an annual contracting marketplace of between $350 billion and $500 billion, the U.S. federal government is the worldâs largest buyer of products and services. Ignoring the contracting opportunities available through the federal government means effectively writing off the single largest avenue for finding new customers.
Do I Need To Register My Business With The Federal Government
The following lists a few of the most common factors that determine whether you must federally register your business:
- Business structure. There are many types of business structures, like sole proprietorships, corporations, LLCs and partnerships. While sole proprietors doing business under their own legal names are not required to register with the federal government, most other structures, including partnerships and corporations, are. Additionally, if you want to benefit from tax exemption as a nonprofit or charity organization, youll have to separately register with the IRS as a tax-exempt entity.
- Staffing. If you currently have employees or plan to hire employees in the future, youll need an EIN to operate your business. According to the IRS, an EIN will allow you to pay federal taxes, hire employees, open a bank account, and apply for business licenses and permits all crucial business processes.
- Required business taxes. An EIN is required for any business that plans on filing Employment, Excise, or Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms taxes.
- Certain organizational involvement. Most businesses that work with, or are otherwise associated with, trusts, estates, real estate mortgage investment conduits, nonprofit organizations, farmers’ cooperatives and plan administrators need an EIN.
- Other. The IRS cites a few other reasons why a business would need an EIN, including whether you withhold income taxes for a non-resident alien, or have a Keogh plan.
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Ask Questions During The Procurement Process
- Once a statement of work is being prepared, for fairness, you may only communicate with the contracting authority indicated in the solicitation document
- An exception exists for Public Private Partnerships, where there is competitive dialogue during the procurement process, overseen by a fairness monitor
Define Your Government Buyer Personas
In any area of sales, its important to get your buyer personas right and know who youre selling to, before doing anything else. This is especially true for the government, where you deal with many different buyers, all of whom affect the outcome of the sale. When selling to the government, list-building is a lot easier than in traditional salesall the information you need is available to the public. Unlike private companies, the government is transparent.SeamlessDocs started simple: They went online. They found the names, emails, and addresses they needed to start building their personas, and split them into three main categories:
- User buyer: the person whos going to actually use and implement the product, typically in the IT department.
- Economic buyer: the City Manager-type figure. This buyer controls the budget and signs off on purchase orders.
- Executive buyer: can be the same person as the economic buyer. City Manager, City Clerk, City Administrator, CIO, CTOpeople who occupy managerial roles in government. This buyer looks at strategic issues and long-term effects of a product or service.
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Tips To Help Small Businesses Get Government Business
Its important to know how to say hello to a public official. It sounds simple, but many sales reps fail this first step.
Government culture differs greatly from corporate culture. The two environments are so diverse that communication is commonly difficult. Companies may pay top dollar for outstanding sales representatives, but unless the person understands the government marketplace and the culture, success will be slow in coming. There are landmines to avoid and challenges to overcome, but the rewards of success are greatgovernment contracts are large and lengthy in nature. Its definitely worth the effort to learn to say hello correctly.
Public officials take longer to make decisions and they have little patience for small talk. They also tend to be risk averse, preferring to work with known and trusted individuals and companies. The trick for newcomers is to find a way to become a trusted advisor as quickly as possible, and that process starts with the very first meeting.
Heres some advice from someone who has lived in both worlds. After more than a decade as a statewide office holder and almost two decades helping companies capture government business, Ive seen it all. The first thing I tell clients is this: unless we get you comfortable quickly with government culture, were going to waste a lot of valuable time. No matter the size or type of company, the first thing our team wants to hear is their message. Here are the types of questions we ask:
Where Do I Go To Register
Once you have registered in the SRI, you can register in the other databases. Remember that these database systems use the PBN as their supplier identifier therefore, ensure that you have your PBN within easy reach when ready to register.
The following table will help you to find the appropriate database and/or method of supply to promote your services.
|Services provided||Database or Method of Supply|
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Address The Fate Of Downsized Public Employees
One of the toughest political issues stemming from privatization is the loss of public-employee jobs. This problem can be mitigated, however, if government and its private-sector partners work together to ensure the least pain and the most gain for those individuals who have been displaced by efficiency efforts. The loss of jobs is a serious issue that must be dealt with openly, compassionately, and comprehensively. Indianapolis has reduced its non-public-safety workforce by 40% since 1992, yet not a single frontline union worker has lost a job as a result of privatization.
How did we do it? The example of our wastewater-treatment plants provides a road map. The privatization of the plants resulted in the largest displacement of employees of any of our competitions. Naturally, our public-employee union vigorously opposed the deal, packing hearings of the City-County Council and picketing city hall with signs suggesting that private managers would pollute the water and endanger public health.
Two years later, when the city decided to open up the maintenance of the sewer system to competitive bidding, WREP and the local labor union joined forces to submit a successful proposal.
Not every transition to privatization will go as smoothly as that of Indianapoliss wastewater-treatment plants. But if business wants to do business with government, it must think long and hard about the following questions and then address them publicly: