Expert Advice Small Business Tips

Government Contracting – Tips from an Insider

As a small business, have you pondered your customer’s thoughts about how effective your business is, what they think about your customer service, and any suggestions for improvement that your customer’s might have, but are reluctant to give you?  Carol S. Decker, Associate Director, Office of Small Business Programs, US Navy, presented a workshop and shared research she had collected from a variety of government agencies on things they wished every small business should know:

  • Stay current on market trends.
  • Consider developing sample proposals to increase response time to opportunities.
  • Have at least one viable working relationship with a large business that does federal contracting before attempting to be a prime contractor to the federal government.
  • Become familiar with the federal contracting rules before contemplating entering the federal market.
  • Use databases provided by your Procurement Technical Assistance Center  to see which offices buy what you want to sell.
  • Seek out the opportunities where the offices post them.
  • Discover where your expertise fits into an agency’s mission before contacting them.
  • Map your capabilities to specific requirements, don’t market general qualifications and small business certifications.
  • Go to the Procurement Technical Assistance Center and get to know them.
  • Know your niche and where the federal government needs your skills.
  • Ask questions when you have them.
  • Remember our small business specialist is a great first contact.
  • Don’t assume that you won’t qualify for a contract.  Ask questions – submit a quote.
  • Follow the money.
  • Don’t expect that the government has a contract waiting for you.
  • Don’t overstate your capabilities or take on too much too soon.  Diversify!
  • Don’t underbid to your own detriment.
  • Don’t be averse to subcontract work before pursuing prime contract opportunities.
  • Don’t try to explain away poor performance.
  • Don’t send non-specific marketing emails with large attachments.  They probably won’t get them due to email limitations and many won’t bother to read them.

The goal of our Procurement Technical Assistance Center is to help you to be successful in obtaining government contracts and performing the work when your business receives an award.  We can be reached at (707) 826-3916.


Written by Mary Jo Juarez, Norcal PTAC Procurement Specialist.