|Doing Business with
the Federal Government: Is this a Market for Your
If you are online and like to research and sort through
technical information, you might be able to do business
in the lucrative government procurement industry.
BY GLENNIS MCCLURE, REAP
WOMEN'S BUSINESS CENTER DIRECTOR
Government procurement is big business – more than $200
billion is spent annually for products and services. The
federal government purchases a wide range of products
and services, from goods that stock supermarket shelves,
computer systems, and meals for the military, to
machinery, utensils, multi-media production, and office
Selling to the federal government can be a large market
niche for many small businesses, but it requires
research before deciding whether or not to enter.
Working closely with federal agencies and the nation’s
leading large contractors, the Small Business
Administration (SBA) works to ensure that small
businesses obtain a fair share of government contracts
and sub-contracts. According to the Small Business Act,
23 percent of all dollars purchased are to come from
small businesses and five percent from women-owned
One thing to remember is that by SBA standards, “small
business” is very large. A manufacturing business with
fewer than 500 employees may be considered “small.”
When looking to see if there is a place for you in the
federal market, consider that this is electronic
commerce. You must have email and Internet access.
Notification of opportunities for contracts of over
$25,000 may be received via email. Contracts under that
amount may require direct marketing to federal offices.
The government awards all contracts on the basis of
Four steps are basic to understanding the procurement
- Learn about the procurement online market. We
provide an extensive
list of websites to help you
- Visit websites to learn whether or not there is a
place for you to compete.
- Register online for bid notification and to be
eligible to submit a bid. We include registry sites in
the insert mentioned above.
- Submit your bid.
Selling to the federal government is, in some ways,
similar to selling to the private sector. While federal
procurement procedures may have a different set of rules
and regulations, many of the same marketing techniques
and strategies you already employ may be applicable
here. Don’t neglect to use your common business sense.
Here are tips for doing business in the federal
- Get to know the agency and understand the context
in which your product or service could be used.
- Obtain available information on past awards,
quantities, costs, and awarders.
- Become known to potential purchasers.
As one does research, one should consider working as a
subcontractor to a large business that holds a federal
contract. Refer to the websites that list subcontracting
on the insert for more leads.