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NAVIGATION

December 5, 2019

Ask the Experts

Growing Strong

| 4/22/2019

Government contracting
Every level of government buys goods and services, and Florida currently ranks 7th among all U.S. states for procurement of government contracts. The market is there and the rewards can be substantial, but is government contracting the right choice for your business?

Selling to the U.S.
Landing a federal government contract takes time and effort. To have the best chance for success, pay attention to the following elements:

Evaluate Understand what, when and how much government agencies buy. Is your product/service in demand?

Plan Target government agencies and prime contractors that buy what you offer; develop a plan to reach them.

Register Complete the required/mandatory government database registrations including: System for Award Management and Dynamic Small Business Search.
Prepare Develop a corporate capability statement; create government-focused collateral and e-marketing resources; secure preferred small business certifications such as: 8(a), Woman-Owned Small Business, HUBZone, Veteran-Owned and applicable state and local certifications.

Pursue Be aggressive. Monitor computerized bid matching services (daily searches and email alerts). Identify opportunities through government bid boards, posting databases and networking. Obtain a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule contract, if applicable.

Achieve Develop a government-accepted accounting system and be ready to handle possible contract audits, reports and modifications.

Ask for help Procurement Specialists at the Florida PTAC can help small businesses pursue government contracting opportunities at all levels.

Selling to Florida
One avenue to expansion is as close as your computer. MyFloridaMarketPlace, a division of the Florida Department of Management Services, has nearly 15,000 registered buyers who issue, on average, 5,000 purchase orders each month at three levels:

1. Term Contracts

2. Informal Purchases Less than $35,000. No requirement for competitive bidding.

3. Formal Purchases Greater than $35,000; require competitive bidding.

Determine which level best matches your business abilities, then register online as a vendor.

For details, visit www.dms.myflorida.com/business_operations/state_purchasing/.

 

Kristy Casillas
Kristy Casillas grows her business through government contacts. | Photo: Mark Wemple

Q

I’ve heard that government contracting can be a lucrative way to grow a business, but I don’t know how to get started or where to find contracting opportunities. Can you help me?

AYes, and you’re right — there is money to be made doing business with the government, but to succeed, you must know how to navigate the system and have the necessary infrastructure in place. Going after government contracts is not easy, but it’s doable. Just make sure you have a plan and understand how the procurement process works.

Landing a government contract on any level — federal, state, county, municipal — is not like pitching your product to a civilian buyer. A flashy brochure isn’t enough. Government agencies want to be assured that your business is capable of giving them what they need, when they need it and for the right price. To succeed, you must understand exactly what you’re bidding on and then provide a corporate capability statement as evidence that your company can deliver it.

If you’re just getting started as a government contractor, my advice is this: don’t try to go it alone. Find a Florida PTAC procurement specialist who can walk you through the procurement process — help you register as a vendor, acquire any necessary certifications, put together a plan, fine-tune your capability statement and more. That’s exactly what I did for Kristy Casillas three years ago. As CEO of FL Solutions, a brand management firm in Tarpon Springs, Kristy says she had tried to get into government contracting on her own, but wasn’t having much luck. “Yolanda explained the bid system and helped me formulate my capability statement —
I didn’t even know there was such a thing!” Now, three years later, 30% of Kristy’s business is government contracting and she’s on track to get more.

Answer provided by Yolanda Cowart
Procurement Specialist, Florida PTAC at the University of South Florida

Tags: Florida Small Business, Ask the Experts

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