There is a lot of opportunity within the federal government for minority, women, handicapped and service disabled owned businesses. The federal government has a very large budget, a lot of customers and a seemingly endless list of requirements that must be met.
In order to work with the federal government you need patience, a clear cut strategy and funding.
But most importantly you need a tool that the federal government can use to get to your products and services.
One powerful tool is SBA 8a Certification.
Getting 8(a) Certified
Navigating through the complex 8a Application process can be daunting.
Many companies find the need to outsource the 8a Application process to a company that specializes in getting companies 8a Certified. Why? The process is very time intensive and most business owners need this time to focus on their core competencies and realize that completing the complex SBA 8a Application is not a skill set of theirs. Using a company that specializes in getting companies 8a Certified can provide a good return on investment (ROI), is a very good use of resources available and can be much faster than doing it themselves.
8a Certification is like getting a license to hunt for business. It does not automatically bring in new business but it gives your more opportunities if you are already out there. 8a Certification is just one tool in your important toolbox that can be used to open doors and give your business a “leg-up” in the federal contracting arena.
Developing a Clear Cut Strategy Once You’ve Become 8a Certified
Every agency has an Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU). You as the business owner need to be out there formulating relationships with the key contacts within the OSDBU’s. They may use your 8(a) Certification to procure your products and services but ultimately they buy from people and it is about the relationships you establish.
We suggest you start with a narrow focus. Focus on one agency that is closely aligned to your core competencies.
Find an agency that is small business friendly. Some are more small business friendly than others.
Work to develop your relationships within that agency both directly, with your key contacts and indirectly, with prime vendors through subcontracting relationships.
The Importance of Funding for Your Business Once You’ve Become 8a Certified.
It is important to also have a strong financial infrastructure for your business. Two things that can put a company out of business are unmanaged growth and under capitalization. Many young 8a Certified companies company are at risk for one or both of these.
Unmanaged growth can occur when you land a large federal 8a set-aside contract and you are unable to meet the manpower, facility or other contract needs in a timely and cost effective manner.
Under capitalization can occur when you have to scale quickly and hire people but can’t pay those people. This can literally put you out of business. It is important for your business to have a strong financial backbone.
The best time to look for a bank that believes in your business plan, mission and vision and that can help you grow strategically is when things are going well. The time to go evaluate potential banks for funding is when you have profits. Setting up these funding relationships before you need them, not when you are in panic mode is important so you can think strategically.