For assistance with government contracting needs, please start by reaching out to our colleagues at the Southeast PA APEX Accelerator: https://www.sepa-apex.org/.
How Does My Business Get Into Government Contracting?
- Evaluate your business model
- Understand the investments required for success
- Determine your NAICS codes
- Do you qualify as a small business?
- To get your DUNS number
- As a federal contractor (SAM)
- As a state contractor (PA Supplier Portal)
- With various free bid portals (Public Purchase, FBO, etc.)
- Veteran/Service-disabled Veteran Owned
- Woman Owned
- Minority Owned
- 8(a), HUBZone, PA Small and Small Diverse
- Understand contract vehicles and dollar thresholds
- Develop your capabilities statement
- Network, Network, Network
- Attend trade shows and gov't matchmaking events
- Conduct market research
- Review solicitations for feasibility
- Prime vs. Subcontracting opportunities
- Sign up for Bid Match!
Important SAM Information
Many 3rd party companies exist that will offer to register you on your behalf. These are commercial companies with official-sounding names that will generally charge a hefty fee for their service. The Lehigh SBDC can help you with your registrations free of charge.
Please read this blog post from APTAC for more information. Please fill out a Request for Service for help with your registrations.
Common Questions About Government Contracting
How can you help my business?
Government contracting is a very different market than your traditional B2B and B2C sectors. We can help you navigate the different set of rules, complex registration and certification processes, and the intricacies of understanding and responding to solicitations. We can also help with market research, marketing strategies, and more!
Do you only help with federal contracting?
No! We can provide technical assistance in selling to Federal, State, City, County, and Municipal governments!
Are there qualifications for become a government contractor?
There's no formal test you have to pass to become a contractor. However, government agencies are subject to an oversight scrutiny that the private sector is not. Therefore agencies want to ensure they are working with professional, reputable, and responsible businesses. These qualifications will generally give you a higher probability of success:
- A developed business model
- 2-3 years of commercial experience
- Ability to accept electronic and credit card payments
- Capable computer and accounting systems
- Financial stability
- Balanced customer portfolio
How much do I have to invest to be successful?
This question has a two part answer.
Part 1 - You do not have to spend money to register as a contractor, get access to bids, submit bids, or receive awards. As you are dealing with government agencies, this is public information. In some industries (i.e. construction related) you may be required to place deposits or bid bonds, but this is not common in most sectors.
There are many third party commercial entities, with official sounding names, that will offer to help you with every aspect of the contracting process. They will also charge you hefty fees to do so. We can provide those same services at no cost to you. If you have questions about a particular company, please reach out to us. You may also read this blog post from APTAC for more information.
Part 2 - You can, in theory, win a government contract spending $0. However, the real cost of pursuing government markets are similar to exploring any new market in the private sector - time and resources. Winning a government contract is not something you can do overnight. It can take months, or even years before you win your first award. However, if you don't spend that time building relationships and spreading awareness of your business and brand, like any new market - you won't be successful.