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Set the rules. Pick your target(s). Stay on target! (Not a Star Wars tribute)

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Monday, February 07, 2011

A key aspect of focusing business activities is setting parameters. For organizations pursuing business opportunities with the U.S. Government, it is even more imperative to narrow one’s view based on practicality and viability. That is of course unless you have an endless financial resource from which you can draw. After all, time is money, and doing business in the government sector takes time.

Having an approach to decision-making when working to identify, qualify and subsequently pursue business opportunities will save on overall aggravation and senselessly wasting time and money. The framework of a good strategy for finding business opportunities should begin with criteria such as:

  • What organizations indicate a need for the type of goods, services or solutions we provide?
  • Where can we deliver our offering(s)?
  • Can we deliver based on schedules the organization may set/has set?
  • Does geography play a role in the price of our offering(s)?
  • What special circumstances apply to delivering our offering to certain organizations (e.g., technical certifications, industrial security clearances, socioeconomic designations, contract vehicles, etc.)?

After completing basic preliminary research through readily available resources like industry publications and government data repositories, you can begin to ascertain if selling direct to government agencies or through other contractors as a subcontractor or teaming partner is the most effective approach for your organization. Your goal at the outset is to understand which government agencies and which contractors to further investigate based on current and future organizational goals. If you detect a potential fit, you then need to determine the relevance of your offering to those goals (e.g., who uses it, how do they use it, why do they use it, where do they use it and how does it help them accomplish their goals).

While you are getting out of the gate, do not subscribe to the default mindset of "I am too small or too new to work directly with the government and am relegated to being a subcontractor,” as that is not always the case. Purchasing programs such as Micropurchases and Simplified Acquisitions are used by many agencies to identify new industry partners at a much lower level of risk than is associated with multi-million and multi-billion dollar acquisitions. For the record, Uncle Sam spent nearly $30B via Micropurchase and Simplified Acquisition methods with $6B (of a total $11B awarded) of Simplified Acquisition awards made to small businesses for goods and services.

Even if you decide to focus on subcontracting or teaming, a key to success is bringing something of value to your prospective partners. An innovative solution or process that the government may want a piece of is only part of the value proposition. Do you know the customer? More important, do they know you? How much do you know about an upcoming requirement and did you have any role in shaping it?

Having rules of engagement will make it easier to stay focused especially as your organization grows and more heads are involved in finding and pursuing new opportunities.


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