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How a Drop in the Bucket Can Make All the Difference!

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Sunday, September 21, 2014
Updated: Sunday, September 21, 2014

How a Drop in the Bucket Can Make All the Difference!

Quite a few of the companies we engage with are in the $10M or less category for annual revenues, which is why it's interesting for me to dissect industry data and find ways to drive their business growth. For example, during Q1 of FY12, FY13 and FY14 collectively, more than one billion dollars in contract obligations were competitively awarded to small business concerns. Now that may seem like much to-do about nothing until I add the small business(es) with the fewest dollars walked with $500K for the first quarter in which their Global DUNS appeared. For many of our companies that is much more than chump change.

During Q1 of these fiscal years, a little more than $500M in obligations for competitive goods and services buys were split between 123 small federal contractors (on average) who were doing business with twenty-five contracting agencies each year. While several agencies made the list all three years, there was a good amount of movement.

Now keep in mind I'm looking for the proverbial low-hanging fruit which means I'm tracking procurement activities that are faster to process for Government and Industry and have a lower initial investment from a pursuit standpoint. This is why I was ecstatic to find $850M of the obligated dollars issued via purchase order and definitive contract, neither of which requires a GSA Schedule (FSS), Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), Indefinite Delivery Contract (IDC) or GWAC contract number to be referenced. 

If you haven't guessed by now, I'm referring to buys made by agencies when they use the Simplified Acquisition Procedures, which account for a whopping $45B in federal obligations since FY12 with a majority of those dollars being awarded to small business concerns. Which brings me to my next point. Of the one billion in Q1 spending across the three fiscal years, $800M of it was awarded to small companies without the use of small business set-asides. Imagine that.

I wonder how many small businesses came in just under $500K that quarter? How about $400K? Even $300K can go a long way to keeping the lights on, and payroll covered.

Curious about what's being purchased? On average, seventy-seven NAICS Codes are referenced each year and they represent a cross-section of the small business community in government contracting. Engineering Services, Other Computer Related Services, Security Guards and Patrol Services, Other Aircraft Parts and Auxiliary Equipment Manufacturing and Support Activities for Forestry are among the top ten for FY14. I'll have the complete lists on-hand at our Business Over Breakfast™ events in McLean, VA and Laurel, MD this week, and during the next few sessions of our Finding and Winning Simplified Acquisitions to Grow Your Business workshops and webinars.

In the scheme of things, these opportunities and the related obligations really do represent just a drop in the bucket of overall dollars spent by Uncle Sam during any given first quarter. But if you were stranded in the desert for days without water, you would probably appreciate a drop in the bucket, or a half million of them. Right?

Would you like to know more? Click here to call me or email me at You can always view my other articles by clicking here.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

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