Acquiring government contracts for your small business depends on how well you work with the contracting governmental agency. Establishing good contacts and observing protocol as it pertains to a particular agency is crucial to your success. Knowing how to work with a government agency can mean thousands of dollars for your business.
In the beginning stages of this process, first find agencies that have a need for the services and/or products that your company specializes in or supplies. The better the initial match, the better chance the relationship will be long lasting. The agency is entrusted with particular jobs, and how well these jobs get done reflects on its performance. The agency wants to hire the company that will perform better than the rest and will give those associated with the project accolades from their supervisors. You have to sell your company as the best chance for this win-win goal.
It’s important to stay away from jobs that are too big for your company. Be realistic about your capabilities. Also, don’t pursue contracts where your business lacks requirements that the agency has specified. You want to set up positive relationships, not negative ones. Doing the best job and fulfilling the terms of the contract is your number one priority.
Six steps to working with a government agency are:
- Find a government agency that needs what your business offers in terms of goods, services, and/or information (e.g., consulting work).
- Learn as much as you can about the officials and contact people within the agency. Build business relationships that help both you and your contact person.
- Research companies who previously have contracted with the agency and look for information that can help you to make proposals and bids.
- Submit proposals and bids that strictly adhere to the guidelines set forth by the agency. Make a point of learning the system and how things work when it comes to awarding contracts.
- Once the agency awards you the contract, you must make sure to follow all procedures and complete the contract to everyone’s satisfaction — both the agency’s and yours.
- Establish a long-term business relationship that benefits both you and the government agency. Once an agency finds a company that can successfully do the job, it will most likely continue to call on that company for future projects.
Most government agencies have contact people that answer your questions within each part of the contract process. Establishing relationships with these important contacts can give you an advantage when trying to secure a contract. The contact person works as an intermediary between the government agency and small businesses contracted by the agency. Many agencies have a small business liaison office, which is a good place to begin your relationship with an agency.
Each agency has procedures that it must follow, and your contact person helps you to comply with these government regulations. Be sure to read Complying with Government Agency Procedures. Establishing a good relationship with the contact person is important to your continued success with a particular government agency. It can give you the inside track for future government contracts with that agency.
Your business contacts within a government agency can include:
- contracting officers and their representatives
- administrative contacts
- payroll contacts
- procuring contacts
Every successful and long-term relationship is built upon each party getting what they need in the agreement. You must fulfill the terms of the contract and do it to the satisfaction of the agency that contracted your company. Having a government contract job checklist that lists everything you have to do in the contract can help this process. Once you show that your business is capable of doing a good job, the agency will award you more contracts.