How Your Small Business Can Partner with Others on Agency Contracts

It’s not uncommon for small businesses to think they need to have a dog-eat-dog attitude to secure a government contract. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the federal government is a big proponent of collaboration. Plus, some contracts are too large for small businesses to handle on their own. (2)

There’s power in teaming up. It can be a great way to get the experience you need to fuel revenue and build credibility with government connections. Just make sure you choose your partner wisely.

Here are 10 ways you can ensure teaming success:


1. Get networking

It’s an age-old method with a ton of merit. Networking helps spread your name, build your reputation, meet new business associates, and seize new opportunities.

Try joining trade associations, participating in seminars or classes offered by government agencies, getting references, and doing small contracts to build rapport.

Another solid way to build connections is by becoming legislatively active and representing other small businesses. This can effectively open the door to networking with local government representatives and other entrepreneurs. (1)

2. Ask for referrals

Some of the best business partners are found through word-of-mouth recommendations. Get in touch with small-business directors in government agencies you’d like to obtain contracts from, and ask them which companies they’d recommend as good partners. You can also ask your local chamber of commerce or other industry associations for referrals.

3. Approach existing contractors

You don’t need to wait for the perfect business partner to walk through your door. Instead, take the initiative to research and reach out to the companies you believe you’d work well with.

Introduce yourself to the key people in companies with solid reputations. Focus on building relationships with them and show them why you’d be the best choice for teaming up. Make sure to share any certificates or awards you’ve earned as well as contracting jobs you’ve already completed. (1)

4. Consider subcontracting

Some government contracts require large companies to subcontract with a small business. This can be a solid way to develop new contacts and dip your toes into the world of federal contracting.

You can find subcontracting opportunities in the following directories. Just keep in mind that if you submit a proposal for a larger company, you must also self-certify as a small business for the NAICS code on solicitation. Otherwise, you may run into compliance issues. (3)

5. Look for businesses with complementary offerings

Working with a partner whose goods or services complement your own business model is a win-win for everyone involved. Collaboration can put both of you in a stronger position and open new opportunities down the line. (2)

6. Don’t skip the due diligence

No matter how great of a candidate your potential partner seems, you should always conduct a background check.

Sign a confidentiality agreement and look into their payment history for possible signs of trouble down the line. Red flags could be outstanding debts, delinquent accounts, bad credit history, or cash flow problems. Most importantly, check their references and get in touch with some of their past partners. (2)

7. Establish responsibilities right away

Have an open discussion with your potential partner from the onset about your expectations and the roles and responsibilities each party will take. As your project progresses, make sure to regularly check in with each other and update responsibilities.

It’s also worthwhile to designate specific employees as contacts—this will help foster efficient communication and prevent misunderstandings. (2)

8. Put everything in writing

You don’t want to move ahead with a partner unless an agreement covering all the details of the bid has been signed, as well as a non-disclosure agreement. If possible, have your legal counsel or accountant take a look ahead of time.

It’s also important to keep track of more specific things including project goals, deadlines, tasks, contacts, and more. This will help both of you stay on track and minimize miscommunication. (2)

9. Don’t allow a larger firm to overshadow you

Larger companies are responsible for their smaller business partner, who becomes the sub-contractor, when they team up for a bid. As a result, smaller businesses risk becoming a non-entity if disputes arise. To prevent this from happening, make it known upfront that you’d like to play an equal role in agency discussions, negotiations, and confrontations. (1)

10. Adopt the same proposal platform as your partner

Both parties have to be on the same page to successfully team up on government contracts. This is especially true when it comes to using the same proposal platform. ProPricer Contractor Edition provides proposal teams and government professionals with the compatible software and resources they need for a successful bid process.

Together, you and your new partner can prepare proposals with a modern SaaS tool that synchronizes data, generates pricing reports, initiates complex what-if scenarios, standardizes your pricing environment, and more.

If you’d like to give ProPricer a try, you can use our ProPricer Express edition for free. See how easy it is to convert an existing proposal into ProPricer format.

Or request a live ProPricer Contractor Edition demo here.


  1. American Express Blog: 4 Ways to Find a Great Partner for Government Contracting
  2. OPEN Insight Guide: Team to Win Government Contracts
  3. SBA Contracting Guide: Prime and Subcontracting


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