Tools that can help veteran-owned businesses win government contracts (with related video)
As Veteran’s Day approaches on Nov. 11, things are looking up for veteran-owned businesses that are seeking government contracts. At the federal level, contract dollars awarded to Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSBs) reached an historic high in FY15. For the 4th consecutive year, the federal government exceeded the goal for SDVOSBs, achieving 3.93 percent or $13.8 billion of all federal small-business-eligible contracting dollars compared to the 3.68 percent or $13.5 billion it achieved in FY14.
In 2017, government contracting opportunities for veterans who qualify as small businesses, including SDVOSBs, should prove to be as good if not better than previous years, says Tiffani Shea Clements, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Things should open up once the new federal budget has been passed, she adds.
“Yes, 2017 has the potential to be a spectacular year for veterans who want to do business with the Department of Veterans Affairs, thanks largely to the Supreme Court’s Kingdomware decision,” says Gloria Larkin (photo to right), president at TargetGov. The firm helps its clients reach their contracting goals in the federal marketplace. She is also author of “The Veterans Business Guide: How to Create a Successful Government Contracting Business.”
The decision, says Larkin, “clarified that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs must offer opportunities under the Rule of Two even after reaching the veterans small business goals.” The decision, she adds, also applies to sales on the Federal Supply Schedules.
If you don’t play you can’t win local, state, and federal contracts, says Amber Peebles (photo below on left). She is a Marine Corps veteran as well as president of Dumfries, Va.-based Athena Construction Group. The firm is a woman-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned, HUBZone contractor.
“Be strategic and go for the opportunities where you have a likelihood of success to capture and properly execute the work,” Peebles tells GPN. She urges Veteran-owned businesses (VOBs) to start out on government projects as a sub-contractor to an experienced prime. “You don’t need your first job to be a $10,000,000 win – you just need your first job.”
Get involved in industry associations, says Peebles. Those groups, she says, often have programs to help their members learn about and compete for local, state and federal contracts. In addition, American Express Open for Government Contracting sponsors small business- government events throughout the country at no cost to the attendee. “These events are fantastic for matchmaking and direct access to government procurement decision-makers,” Peebles explains.
VOBs should consult with procurement technical assistance centers (PTAC) for information on selling to government agencies. Go here to find a PTAC in your area. “The PTAC has been a great resource for JDog Services as we are learning to navigate the world of government contracting,” says Kevin Kopa (photo below on right), VP Corporate Services for JDog. The firm provides a range of junk removal and hauling services. It is a national company that awards franchises exclusively to military veterans and veteran family members.
Along with assisting in the process of registering as a diversified small business, PTACs teach businesses how to use their new classification to compete for open contracts, Kopa adds. “Our local PTAC offers regular seminars to educate small business how to find opportunities, learn about competition and how to bid your areas of service or products,” Kopa says.
VOBs and other small businesses should consider subscribing to Onvia’s small business solution. It’s designed for firms that sell in three states or less. Pricing starts at $45 per month. Businesses use the solution to find qualified sales leads. Go here to register. VOBs can get a 25 percent discount off the subscription price to the Onvia Guide for Small Business, says Michael Litchev, who is Onvia’s Small Business Specialist. “Simply enter the promo code ‘VOB’ at the end of the registration process, after entering your payment details. The promo code will take 25 percent off your plan, and you will have access to customer support to help your business familiarize itself with the Business to Government market,” Litchev tells GPN.
Onvia searches its database of bidding opportunities to select only those bids and RFPs that fit each firm’s profile. Onvia is a government market intelligence firm.
In the video, learn how PTACs can help firms, including VOBs, apply for and secure government contracts.