Federal buying season brings opportunities to small businesses
The federal government’s fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and that means a variety of selling opportunities for skilled government marketers over the next eight weeks. Small businesses, in particular, are in high demand this time of year. “The government especially encourages small businesses to bid on contracts. In fact, federal agencies are required to establish contracting goals, with at least 23 percent of all government buying targeted to small firms,” says Lourdes Martin-Rosa, an advisor on government contracting at New York-based American Express OPEN.
Martin-Rosa adds that marketing consultants often refer to the last quarter of the federal fiscal year as “hunting season,” because of the many small business contracting opportunities now available. The reason? Federal agencies’ need to reach the established federal government’s small-business contracting goal of 23 percent.
The “hunted” is not the federal agencies, says Martin-Rosa; it’s the small businesses. “This is the time when most agencies are desperately seeking 8(a), Hub-zone, women-owned and service-disabled-owned small firms, to help fulfill their required small-business procurement goals.”
The federal government missed its small-business contracting goal by 2 percent last year, says Martin-Rosa. “The Obama administration is not going to allow that to happen this year. With a presidential approval rate of just 49 percent, small business lending still low, and a year when we may reach a trillion dollars in federal government spending, the president is making sure federal agencies do not miss their procurement goal on his watch.” Federal agencies, she said, will make a strong effort to reach the required 23 percent small-business contracting goal.
In late April, Obama created a Small Business Task Force outlining the administration’s small business contracting initiatives to each federal agency. “Each agency has 120 days to report how they are going to maximize opportunities to small businesses, thus reaching the 23 percent procurement goal. Now more than ever, small businesses need to explore contracting with the federal government,” Martin-Rosa says.
One tip for small businesses from Martin-Rosa: Get your company “contract ready.” Small businesses, Martin-Rosa says, should register as a vendor with the federal government at Central Contractor Registration (CCR).
Businesses should identify their designations (small business, woman-owned, service-disabled-veteran-owned and/or small disadvantaged-business-owned). “The designations give you a contracting advantage,” says Martin-Rosa, who adds that American Express OPEN has created an “Insight Guide” that offer tips on how to properly register a small business in CCR. “Make sure your company’s information is up to date in the CCR and your information is accurate,” urges Martin-Rosa.
American Express OPEN’s Victory in Procurement (VIP) Program is currently offering events across the U.S. educating small businesses on the importance of growing their business with government contracts.
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