Can't find your way to government contracting opportunities? Information is King!
For the most part, the mystique associated with government contracting business development and market research is a direct-result of job security tactics employed by those possessing the skills, and utter fear and disdain for the rest. That's how I see it after all these years. The combination of debriefs to give the bosses just enough information, and the First Amendment-like protection of sources we invoked, has contributed to gray hairs (or no hairs) for many owners and executives in this business. I know many business owners that would opt for multiple root canals in the same day versus having to manage these functions.
Market research, business development and capture remain a significant source of angst for companies just getting started and for many in the business from a few to several years. This is serious business that requires hard work, determination, planning and process in order to achieve desired results. The obvious understatement is that the impact of doing these the right way or the wrong way is paramount to business growth, yet too many companies begin with the disadvantage of not having implemented good processes in this area, and usually never get on track anytime soon, if ever.
When it comes to finding and qualifying viable opportunities, the primary challenge for a number of companies is information. If you ask any company, regardless of size or discipline, why they were unsuccessful in their last bid, it very often comes down to either they didn't have information, didn't use the information or didn't vet the information to determine its accuracy, relevance and timeliness. Most of the reasons for failure can be attributed to not having planned how to acquire, validate and use information from free or even fee-based sources. With little or no understanding of how an offering is relevant or irrelevant to specific organizations and programs/projects, how it is procured, by whom and how, and the context to apply this information to a strategy, it can be very difficult to establish goals much less achieve them.
When it comes to information and 'connecting the dots,' here are two of my favorite quotes:
“Not having the information you need when you need it leaves you wanting.
Not knowing where to look for that information leaves you powerless.
In a society where information is king, none of us can afford that.”
— Lois Horowitz, A Writer’s Guide to Research, 1986
“Without context, a piece of information is just a dot.
It floats in your brain with a lot of other dots and doesn’t mean a damn thing. Knowledge is information-in-context… connecting the dots.”
— Michael Ventura, Connecting a Few Dots, 1997
The Chief Visionary
One other very important factor that is often overlooked (as well) is relationships. They play an important role in getting information and understanding it. While information alone cannot develop the relationships you need, it can surely help point you in the direction of the people and organizations you should seek out.
In a March 2013 contribution to Washington Technology, industry sage Bob Davis discussed the lack of diligent information-gathering and utilization in his piece 'Never stop your market research or risk the consequences' to which I followed-up by asking "What if you never started it?"
Now let's talk about that go/no-go and/or bid/no-bid assessment process you're using. You do have those, right?
"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."