The Department of Defense Office of Small Business Programs works to seek out opportunities and increase the dollar amount that is competitively awarded to small businesses and entrepreneurs. In fact, 23% of federal government agency prime contracting awards are set aside for small businesses, but still, only 5% of U.S. businesses actually hold these contracts.
The process to find out about and then bid on these government contracts may seem confusing at first, but you don’t miss out on the opportunity to earn more revenue for your business. Here are some steps to guide you through the process of getting your business ready to do business with the Department of Defense:
- Identify your product – know your codes. It’s essential to identify your product or service by searching for the NAICS code and Federal Supply Class or Service before you start the process of making your business eligible for government contracts. Every product and service is classified by these federal numbering systems. You’ll need these codes when you’re registering your business. The codes are key to categorizing your business for bid opportunities when awarding agencies are searching for businesses from which to solicit bids.
- Get your DUNS number. Your Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number can be acquired for free from Dun and Bradstreet (D&B). Your DUNS is a unique identifier that helps you gauge and communicate your business’ creditworthiness. The process takes a just a couple of days and is required when you register your business for government contracting.
- Register with SAM. All businesses are required to register with the System for Awards Management (SAM) if they plan on entering into a contract or service agreement with the federal government. The process has actually become a lot easier in the last year. Before different federal agencies had different registration requirements across several websites. All of these have been incorporated into one centralized system – SAM. The benefits are great because your one-time registration puts you on a list government agencies use to find small business contracting opportunities. Remember, sometimes businesses can receive contracts before there’s even an RFP to bid for.
- Know your FARs and DFARSs. Familiarize yourself with the Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR) and the Defense Federal Acquisitions Regulations Supplement (DFARS) which completely covers government agencies’ contracting procedures. You can subscribe to receive updates to each as they are made. Staying up to date with these procedures will always save you time and the headache of finding out whether you have the latest version or not. Updates are made as needed and aren’t made following a specific schedule.
- Contact the appropriate DoD Small Business Program Office. The Department of Defense has small business program offices for each branch of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, etc.). You should contact the office you want to do business with and find out if any procurement opportunities exist or are in development.
- Contact your local PTAC. Take advantage of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC). You’ll find them in most states. They’re partially funded by the Department of Defense to provide resources, training, counseling on marketing, financial and contracting issues.
Be sure to utilize as many of the resources that are offered by these small business programs. Too many entrepreneurs and small business owners become overwhelmed and discouraged by the long process, but with the right tools and proper due diligence, you’ll discover that finding and bidding on government contracts is quite manageable and extremely rewarding.