Looking to take your business to the next level by merging federal contracts and commercial clients? Whether you’re branching out towards the government side or taking on new private partnerships, it helps to have a few proven strategies in your back pocket.
Here are six ways you can have your proverbial government contract cake and eat it too:
1)Take advantage of federal grants
Federal grants are one of the many ways the government helps small businesses maintain a competitive edge. They’re typically awarded to state agencies and other qualifying institutions, and then they trickle down to small businesses. (1)
Find information about different aid programs and grants your small business could be eligible for at Grants.gov.
Search for grants using relevant keywords targeting different agencies. This will help you broaden your horizons and discover a wider range of aid catered to your business.
For example, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has special programs dedicated to small businesses engaged in emergency response training, prevention, and preparation.
If you’re awarded a grant, you’ll be logged into the DHS system—giving your business a leg up when submitting proposals for DHS contracts in the future.
2) Embrace corporate social responsibility
Gone are the days when profit was a company’s sole focus. Consumers are increasingly demanding businesses take a stand on societal issues and contribute positively towards change.
Research suggests that 70% of Americans believe it’s either “somewhat” or “very important” for companies to make the world a better place. And 77% percent of consumers are motivated to purchase from companies committed to improving society. (2)
Focus on building out your company values and social responsibility objectives. This will help strengthen your brand, improve your relationship with clients, and ultimately contribute to your success.
Maybe your business is in a position to make a positive impact on the environment, minority rights, or another social cause. Whatever your mission is, take the initiative to partner with local leaders, community members, and public officials to work towards the greater good.
As a bonus, government agencies are more likely to do business with companies that exhibit dedication to social values and achieve real-world progress.
3) Work with organizations dedicated to small businesses
The government offers a variety of programs geared towards small businesses. Many provide critical information, mentorship, networking opportunities, business development resources, funding, and more.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is one of the most well-known federal agencies supporting small businesses. You can explore loans, grants, and other resources at SBA.gov. Make sure to look into several other notable government programs listed here. (3)
Some agencies maintain designated departments that offer resources to small business owners. For example, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office—an agency dedicated to protecting intellectual property (IP)—provides legal information and other guidance tools related to IP. If you need more personalized advice, you can contact the administrator’s office for assistance.
Keep in mind that working with government programs puts your business within searchable government databases. This can be an advantage when it comes to submitting proposals for federal contracts.
4) Play to your strengths
Making the shift towards government contracting doesn’t have to be a radical move. So long as you work off of your strengths, you’ll be well-positioned for success—the same way you would with any commercial client.
It’s easy to get sidetracked when working with the government. After all, the process is very different because you’re required to follow additional protocols and formalities. While it’s critical to take these technicalities into account, you don’t need to shake up your core business.
Understand that the government will likely have the same pain points as your commercial clients. Stay true to your strongest selling points—especially those relevant to the contract at hand—and stick to what you can deliver well.
5) Develop a commercial-based business plan
The government and commercial sides of your business will inevitably have different legal obligations, auditing requirements, and sometimes even pricing structures. As you branch out from strictly agency clients to agency and commercial, creating a separate LLC or business entity will help simplify things.
It helps to envision your business as a Venn diagram. On one hand, you have the government side, on the other, your commercial business. However, your underlying products and services don’t need to change. Instead, stick to emphasizing the overlap between the two sectors.
This will allow for a seamless transition and position you as a more flexible, adaptable, and enterprising small business. (4)
6) Follow the government’s preferred format for proposal submissions
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of using the government’s preferred format for proposal submissions. Doing so will make your business appear professional, experienced, and well-versed in the world of federal contracting—helping you secure contracts and solidify an ongoing relationship.
Using the right proposal platform helps. Take ArmorWorks, a digital defense and technology security company that’s succeeded in blending commercial and government work, as an example.
ArmorWorks started with the free version of ProPricer and then utilized ProPricer Contractor Edition to run data reports and develop a proposal. They were able to configure the data sets needed to produce a compliant RFP response in just 150 hours—complete with enhanced accuracy and sophistication.
This solution paid off. ArmorWorks is now well on its way to becoming an established and repeat Tier 1 contractor with the U.S. Department of Defense.
ProPricer is the scalable proposal software that grows with you; it can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be. Learn more about ProPricer Contractor Edition.