Is Government Contracting Right For Your Business?

Government contracting can be a critical tool for growing your business and increasing your bottom line.  While not all small businesses are suitable for government contracting, the following steps will help you determine whether government contracting is a good fit for your small business.

Evaluate Your Business for Government Contracting—

     Define goals for your business and determine your firm’s strengths and weaknesses.  Analyze the market—where are the goods and services you are offering needed in the federal government? Decide what you have to offer and target your efforts at the federal agencies that need it the most.  Finally, your business plan must be sustainable—take into consideration current economic conditions and how they may impact your business.

Don’t overlook potential opportunities with state and local government agencies as well.

Research Agencies’ Procurement Forecasts—

     Every year, each federal agency assembles an Annual Procurement Forecast, designed to assist businesses in identifying procurement opportunities.  The Procurement Forecast is meant for informational and planning purposes only, but it can help you get an idea of where to target your business to win government contracts.  Access agencies’ procurement forecasts at  Additionally, contact each agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) at to see what goods and services they expect to buy.

Visit a Procurement Technical Assistance Center—

Congress created the procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP) to help businesses seeking to compete successfully in federal government contracting.  These centers provide a range of expert services at little or no charge, including assistance to businesses that want to sell products and services to the federal government.  Contact the Rhode Island Procurement Technical Assistance Center at (401) 278-9100 Ext. 175 or visit their web site at

Get to Know the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR)—

When contracting with the federal government, you will be held to specific rules and regulations.  The FAR establishes uniform policies and regulations for the purchase of supplies and services by all executive agencies.  Specifically, Part 19 refers to the acquisition process for small business programs.  You can access the FAR at



MYTH:  Doing business with the federal government is too complicated, involves too much red tape and it takes forever to get paid.

REALITY:  The government uses many commercial and business-friendly practices, such as buying off-the-shelf items and paying by credit card.  Payments are generally made within 15 days after submitting an invoice.  

MYTH:  There’s no one I can turn to in trying to obtain government contracts.

REALITY: The SBA and its network of resource partners have programs and “hands-on” assistance for small businesses contemplating selling to the federal marketplace.

MYTH:  I must compete head-to-head against large businesses and multinational corporations to win contracts.

REALITY: The government has many categories of contract opportunities set aside exclusively for small businesses to level the playing field.


MYTH:  All I need to do is register in the System for Award Management (SAM) and the contracts will come rolling in.

REALITY: Although SAM is a primary way federal agencies learn about prospective vendors, it’s up to you to aggressively market your products and services.  Remember, agencies don’t buy, people do. 


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