How to Become a Federal Contractor?

May 13, 2024

Entering the realm of federal contracting presents a lucrative business opportunity. The U.S. government is the world’s largest customer. It buys all types of products and services and is required by law to provide opportunities for small businesses. Working with the federal government opens avenues for growth and revenue.

Wondering how to venture into federal contracting and its prerequisites? What to offer and how to engage with the government? These common queries often puzzle aspiring federal contractors. This blog demystifies the intricate path to federal contracting, outlining a concise roadmap of actionable steps.

9 Steps to Becoming a Federal Contractor:

 

1. Decide What You Want to Sell: The government purchases many products and services. As a new contractor, you must determine what products or services you sell. It is better to decide based on the data you can gather from government sources, especially considering the market size, your product/service specialty, and its long-term sustainability. It is also essential to consider the future usage and growth of your product or service. You can go through the buying patterns of various agencies by going through the spending and government sources like USASpending and the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS).

2. Understand Government Contracting Basics: Delving into federal contracting requires a basic understanding of the Federal Contracting processes and procedures. You will need to understand the whole government contracting process to know what you’re getting into and be well-prepared. It is easy to get confused with details and get discouraged, but you can quickly move ahead if you clear your basics. You can seek help from the Small Business Administration (sba.gov), consulting companies, and peers to learn more about the federal government contracting process. A starting point for understanding the basics includes, but is not limited to:

  • Acquisition Regulations: Understanding the basics of Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), Defense Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS), System for Award Management (SAM), and Small Business Administration (SBA).
  • Industry Codes: Understanding of terms like North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), Unique Entity Identifier (UEI), Commercial and Government Entity Code (CAGE), and Product and Service Code (PSC).
  • Contract Types: Understanding the different types of contracts like fixed price, cost reimbursement, firm fixed price, cost plus fixed fee, Full and open competition, Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ), Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs), and so on.

3. Get Registered: If you do not have a Unique Entity Identifier, you need to get one via the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM), and next, you need to register your business on SAM, the primary database of vendors doing business with the federal government.

4. Get Certified: As part of the government contracting registration process, you will enter specific information about your business into the SAM database, including your primary NAICS code. Additionally, you can seek certification from the Small Business Administration (SBA) for various designations like Small Business, Woman-Owned Small Business, Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, Veteran-Owned Small Business, and more. This process depends on meeting the specified requirements and criteria that align with your business capabilities. Registering as a particular socio-economic set-aside can help you access set-aside contracts for those categories.

5. Chalk Out Your Plan: Select specific agencies you want to build relationships with and kickstart your business after registering your business. It is always better to understand the needs and pain points of the particular buyer. Identify the challenges the agency is facing and the emerging trends that may affect their processes, and then determine whether your products/services resonate with the agency; if not, then tailor your solution to fit the needs. Create a clear plan and strategy, and document who you’ve contacted, what was discussed, and what you’ve incorporated.

6. Build Relationships: As a budding contractor, you should attend networking events to build effective relationships. These events can include industry days, events hosted by SBA and other agencies, matchmaking events, etc. Always be prepared to present your capabilities and showcase your abilities using concise capabilities statements and presentations. Relationship building can be done with agencies and companies looking for partners.

7. Build your Winning Team: Building a winning team goes a long way. Prepare a team that can support the government’s complex demands. Identify internal skill sets that could be leveraged once your business begins doing business with the federal government. Invest time in educating your staff on your company’s value proposition and how you stand out in the market. Be sure employees are passionate about promoting your offerings. Have a good proposal team that can showcase all the efforts that you’ve put in while working on your product/service offering. Your capture management must be on point while identifying all the opportunities that you can and that you should pursue, your proposal writers should be able to showcase your services effectively, and your delivery team should be quick to adapt, possess relevant experience, and continually update their skills.

8. Look for the Right Opportunities: Opportunities are released daily on the SAM. You must filter down your searches based on the relevant filters and filter out a specific set of opportunities you can review and bid on. Each opportunity comes with its own evaluation criteria and requirements that you must go through to decide whether to bid on that opportunity. It is also important to note that bidding on specific opportunities with higher chances of winning is better than bidding on everything and sending canned responses for all the proposals.

9. Place your Bid: The bid preparation and submission process can be daunting and cumbersome. Read all the requirements, understand evaluation criteria, avoid disqualification, and ensure you understand the contract terms. Do not underbid. Take advantage of the solicitation’s question and answer period to eliminate assumptions. If your offer is not accepted, ask for a debriefing from the contracting agency. Debriefs allow you to understand what went well, what did not, and what should be done in the future.

The path to becoming a federal contractor can be daunting and challenging. Still, by utilizing the expertise of experienced consulting companies, contractors can reap the benefits of doing business with the federal government.

iQuasar has 20 years of experience delivering services that include Proposal Development, Cleared Recruitment, Commercial Staffing, Government Consulting Services, Managed IT Services, and so on. We have helped hundreds of clients achieve their business goals. Our experienced consultants help new government contractors assess their business state, provide a clear strategy, and support them throughout the process through our Government Consulting Services. iQuasar possesses expertise in proposal development and helps government contractors write compliant and responsive proposals, positioning them to win competitive government contracts through our Proposal Development Process Outsourcing. We offer Cleared Recruitment Services to government contractors for agencies such as DOD, DHS, NSA, DOJ, etc. We also help fill in positions for government contracts, whether they have clearance requirements or without any such requirements.

If you’re an aspiring contractor who has just started, our team can help you kickstart your business by providing end-to-end support in assessing, registering, and starting your federal contracting business. Feel free to contact us and learn more about our services.

 

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