4 tips for women owned small businesses seeking to secure a government contract
Every year the U.S. government spends $500 billion on merchandise and services from companies, American Express OPEN reported. Of these funds, a growing portion is going to women owned small businesses.
For the first time in 20 years, the U.S. government finally reached its goal of having 5 percent of its contracting dollars awarded to women owned small businesses. The U.S. Small Business Administration noted that this represents $17.8 billion of the eligible contractor dollars set aside for small businesses.
The government created this goal as part of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994, Forbes contributor Eilene Zimmerman reported. This allocation target preceded the creation of the Women Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program in the Equity in Contracting for Women Act of 2000. The government defines a woman owned small business as one that is at least 51 percent women controlled.
While women owned small businesses contribute a variety of services for the government, it can be difficult to secure contracts as the two-decade journey to reach 5 percent illustrates. In an effort to boost the chances of women owned small businesses procuring government contracts, consider these simple and easy tips:
1. Properly register the company
The first step for obtaining a government contract is registering in the System for Award Management. However, buried away at the end of the SAM registration is the Dynamic Small Business Search, also known as the SBA Profile Page. As noted by American Express OPEN, small-business owners often overlook this section. Federal procurement buyers rely on the DSBS profile to find new vendors. Without completely filling out this section, there's a good chance a woman owned small business will not get the exposure needed to secure a government contract.
2. Work with a PTAC
With more than 98 Procurement Technical Assistance Centers across the country operating out of more than 300 local offices, working with these organizations can be a great way to improve the chances of obtaining a federal contract. These publicly funded organizations help local WOSBs compete in the government marketplace by providing feedback on which departments and agencies need what kinds of services.
3. Network smartly
Forming a professional network can raise the probability of finding the right department or agency seeking a vendor. There are several different ways to network smartly. First, find a WOSB that currently or has previously secured a government contract and ask them about the pros and cons of the process. PTACs and LinkedIn can be a valuable resource for locating these companies. Industry events also act as a good resource for smart networking. Women Impacting Public Policy, along with the SBA and American Express OPEN, created ChallengeHER, which offers workshops, mentoring and direct access to government buyers.
"Focus on the agency looking for a specific product or service."
4. Know the goals of the potential partners
In an effort to try and snag any government contract available, some companies might attempt to shoot off as many procurement requests to as many agencies as possible. The hope is that the more requests made, the greater the chances of securing a contract.
However, in this instance, quality is better than quantity. Instead of trying to draft and send a large number of procurement requests, focus in the specific product or service the agency or department is seeking. Every federal agency or department posts their procurement forecast on their websites, listing out the proposed purchases pertaining to their upcoming requirements and/or needs. Employing a strategic approach that includes reviewing and studying the agency's missions and goals will provide a better chance of ultimately securing the government contract.