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Why "Mr. Smith" shouldn't come to Washington and should carefully vet his "advisors"

Thursday, June 21, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Guy Timberlake
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In this case, Mr. Smith is any small business seeking business opportunities with federal agencies at locations other than the headquarters component. Mr. Smith is also any small business who finds themselves leveraging certain OPEN Advisors for guidance in pursuing government contracts.
 
Let me start. Everything happens in Washington, DC, right?
 
If you listen to the American Express OPEN Advisor on Government Contracting who recently penned "Leveraging Small Business Certifications to Win Government Contracts" then that is what you will believe. If you are based outside the beltway, and you have never been told this before, I will be the first. There is plenty of business to be found with federal agency activities located outside the Capital Beltway.
 
Don't believe me, look here for a snapshot (a Simplified Acquisition Snapshot™ that is).
 
According to this same advisor, you'll also come to believe that GSA Schedules are a great way to find out what agencies are paying for your goods and services, as opposed to reviewing the actual purchases made by the government in say, the Federal Procurement Data System (Next Generation) which houses information about all purchases that are above Micropurchase and not classified. (Hint: GSA Schedule prices are not often what the Government actually pays for goods and services, but the point at which they start receiving discounts for those goods and services.)
 
You will also come to believe you should wait until after you have "certified" your small business to begin crafting a marketing plan. Everyone I know would strongly disagree and would urge companies to consider a marketing plan right about the time they start thinking about selling to the government. Understanding how to approach agencies (technically and contractually) and their contractors should occur in the very earliest stages of planning, not as an after-thought.
 
There are several other aspects of this article that make me cringe as the information is off-base and is likely to do more harm than good to companies using it as a baseline for their GovCon strategy.
 
It's similar to a recent Washington Post article by another American Express OPEN Advisor (on Procurement) who cited the three most important people small businesses need to know when competing for government contracts are the Procurement Center Representative (PCR), OSDBU and Contracting Officer.
 
No disrespect to anyone in those positions, but the last time I checked, talking to the actual customer was pretty important.
 
But that's just me.
 
Peace!

The Chief Visionary

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



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