The 8(a) program and other SBA certifications can give small businesses a clear advantage when bidding on government contracts. These programs give its members added weight when bidding for sole source opportunities. While you are provided better visibility with a certification, you aren’t guaranteed an outcome with contract awards.
Ultimately, it’s still up to you to prove to government agencies that your company is the right choice for the project.
Government agencies have a huge responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. They are burdened with an enormous pressure to complete projects on time and on budget. When a government agency considers a new firm, they are undertaking a significant risk that they wouldn’t be taking by hiring someone they have prior experience with.
Your challenge as a small business owner and certification award recipient is to prove that you can effectively manage projects and get your foot in the door to become one of those trusted vendors.
Start with Subcontracting
If you are new to government contracting, it’s a good idea to subcontract alongside a firm that has contracted with the agency before. Even if you are not able to team up with a previous contractor that has worked with the agency, the act of collaboration itself reduces risk. Positive relationships with other firms will also benefit you when you pursue private contracts as well.
Refine and Update Your Business Plan and Capabilities Statement
Business plans are a great reference point when crafting a bid proposal. A well written business plan will highlight your strengths and provide evidence of success and capability. If it’s been a couple years since you’ve last looked at your business plan, it’s time to review and update it. Now put together your capabilities statement so government agencies can easily see your company’s strengths and references.
Provide Adequate Evidence to Your Claims
The most important point to include in your business plan and future contract proposals is evidence of a good track record, which can be shown in the form of testimonials, case studies, and successfully completed contracts. You will also need to make your team’s qualifications clear. In the meantime, continue building relationships with people who have influence and connections with agency contract officers.
Prove You Understand What’s Important to Government Agencies
You need to demonstrate that you “get” the processes and nature of government contracting. Public agency needs are far different from those in the private sector. Requests for proposals (RFPs) from these agencies come with very specific requirements that ultimately protect against accusations of neglect or unfairness. Public agencies are generally subject to a relentless amount of scrutiny from auditors and the general public. Follow the evaluation criteria to the last letter to even be considered.
Get the Right Certifications
Government agencies like certifications because they are easy to evaluate. Either you have them or you don’t, and there is a trusted, thorough process in achieving them. They demonstrate that your company is ready, willing, and able to perform on contracts. Certain contracts are automatically set aside for small businesses, particularly businesses owned by minorities, women, service-disabled veterans, and those operating in economically disadvantaged areas. SBA Certifications that you can apply for include:
- The 8(a) program: This certification is awarded to small businesses that are controlled by minorities.
- The Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) program: This certification is awarded to small businesses that are controlled mostly by women.
- The Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Concern (SDVOSBC) program: This certification is awarded to small businesses owned by veterans who were wounded during their service.
- The HUBZone program: This certification is awarded to small businesses that operate in economically disadvantaged areas.
Allow us to help you with your SBA certification process and create a compelling business plan that you can use as a guide for your proposals. Learn more about our services and sole source programs for small businesses on our SBA Certifications page.