Useful Links and Information for Small Businesses
Doing Business with the Federal Government
Whether you are a seasoned small business or new to the Federal contracting industry, there are fundamental things to consider and sources to monitor when you are deciding what to bid. Here are just some tips and important links to keep you informed!
Some Useful Information for Small Businesses
- It’s a Numbers Game: You can do all the meeting and greeting in the world with your customers but if you don’t translate the customer knowledge into a proposal submission, your chance of getting new business is significantly reduced. Although relationships are important, the tip of the spear of all your efforts is the proposal submission. The more you bid, the more you’ll win (as long as your proposals are professional and compliant). The 18th Annual Government Contractor Survey performed by Grant Thornton in 2012 stated that participants reported “a 30% win rate on proposals submitted in a competitive environment for new work. The win rate jumps to 50% when the company was the incumbent on the previous contract for the same work.” If you submit 20 proposals in a year, its possible to win six new contracts! But you have to bid to win.
- Pipeline Management: How are you deciding what to bid? How are you forecasting your revenue growth? Whether you use an Excel spreadsheet or a complex Customer Relationship Management tool, it is critical that you track and forecast revenue in alignment with your pipeline. Determine your annual growth targets, then put a bid/no bid process in place to make sure you are qualifying the opportunities in your pipeline. Make sure your pipeline has opportunities that are up to two years out. This is ensure against a down-trough in revenue over time. The Federal Proposal Experts can help you set up a pipeline management and revenue forecasting process in our workshop "The Basics of Doing Business with the Federal Government and the Department of Defense".
- Lowest Price Technical Acceptable Procurements (LPTA): LPTA is the big monster under the bed in our industry. Don’t let it scare you and don’t look it as a race-to-the-bottom for the services industry. Get as much data as you can about the existing contract, the incumbent and the current level of effort. Then, scope out your solution and staffing plan to be at least 30 percent lower than the incumbent’s contract value. The good news is that LPTA proposals require fewer resources and a lower level of effort to bid because you simply have to develop a compliant proposal. Nothing fancy. The evaluators will take the lowest priced proposal out of the pile first, ascertain whether it is technically compliant or not and then, if it is, never look at any of the other proposals.
GovWin: Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, you should buy a subscription. They have lots of important research you can access, useful reports, FOIA services, webinars and they track opportunities by making actual calls to actual Contracting Officers. It’s like a force multiplier for your business development efforts (and no we are not getting a kick-back from GovWin! :)
- EZGovOpps - A competitor to GovWin and considerably less expensive. Does require some knowledge of how to search for existing contracts and solicitations. Not as easy to use as GovWin but if you have some background in the Federal space, does the job. https://ezgovopps.com/home/
- FedBizOps: This is a MUST TRACK source. FedBizOps provides a huge database of most government solicitations, contract awards, subcontracting opportunities, surplus property sales, and foreign business opportunities with the Federal government. Link: https://www.fbo.gov/
- Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS): Find nearly any contract awarded and who it was awarded to using this database. Link: https://www.fpds.gov/fpdsng_cms/index.php/en/
- PTACs: Find your local PTAC to get free (or nearly free) assistance and training for your small business. Link: http://www.dla.mil/SmallBusiness/Pages/ptac.aspx
- CALC: Contract Awarded Labor Category. A very important pricing data source provided by the government. It's all the data on GSA labor rates and categories from winning bids. https://calc.gsa.gov/
- GSA Schedule Sales Query Report Generation System: This is a useful data source about GSA contracts. Look up awarded dollars by NAICS, SIN or other categories. Link: https://ssq.gsa.gov/ReportSelection.cfm
- SAM: You must register your company here to do business with the Federal government. Link: https://www.sam.gov
- USA Spending: Lots of useful data on contracting trends, budget trends and forecasts, etc. Use this as another data source for capture planning and pricing your bids. Link: http://www.usaspending.gov/
- News Sources Worth Reading: Stay on top of the who, what and where of Federal contracting with these credible news sources:
- Government Executive: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/
- Where in Federal Contracting (WIFCON): http://www.wifcon.com/
- The Federal Times: http://www.federaltimes.com/
- National Contracts Manager Association: http://www.ncmahq.org/newspublications/CMNewsList.cfm?navItemNumber=544
- GovCon Wire: http://www.govconwire.com/
- Federal News Radio: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?nid=1
- Washington Technology: http://washingtontechnology.com/Home.aspx