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Small Business: Government Contracting in a Nutshell

The hardest part of contracting with the government is finding an opportunity that's right for you.  First, you have to decide if you want to do business with local, state or federal government.  If you want the smaller contracts, you may want to go after the local and state.  Finding these opportunities requires a little research.  But just start at their websites.  For local government websites go to Local Business Opportunities or for a list of state procurement agencies, and information on how to register as a contractor and bid on opportunities, go to State Business Opportunities.

As far as the federal government, all business opportunities over 25K are listed in FedBizOpps.  But before you can do business with the federal government, you must be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM).  Also, certify your business, because many government agencies require that some percentage of the procurements be set aside for:

Currently, there is no formal certification process for veteran-owned, women-owned and minority-owned small businesses.  When you register your business in the System for Award Management, you may also self-identify as belonging to one or more of these groups.

What about the federal contracts that are under 25K?  Well, you're going to have to do a little research.  You can go to the Federal Procurement Data System(FPDS) at https://www.fpds.gov and register.  From there you can generate reports to find out what agencies buy your products or services.  You will need to know your NAICS code.  Once you find out what agencies buy your products or services, go to their websites (Louisiana State University Libraries has a comprehensive directory of US Federal Government Agencies websites at http://www.lib.lsu.edu/gov/index.html.).  There you may find a list of contracts under 25K.  If not, contact that agencies Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and ask for a list of open bid opportunities under 25K.  If they don't have a comprehensive list, you will need to market to the program managers- ask the Small Business Specialist in the OSDBU for a list of program managers.

You may also want to consider subcontracting opportunities.  It is a great way for a niche business to break into government contracting. In fact, many small businesses start their government contracting efforts by subcontracting. It allows small businesses to build government experience while letting the prime contractor deal with most of the red tape involved. Read more at Subcontracting/ Teaming.

It's a lot of information, but you must decide which path is best for you and then make a plan and stick to it.  If you don't have a plan, you will go from website to website and become overwhelmed and frustrated.  Again, make a plan, and stick to it.

Also, read about GSA's Federal Supply Schedule and micro-purchasing.