Government contracting: engine for small business growth?

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Small businesses and even sole proprietors can stake out a piece of the global economy. But not everyone wants to work across borders, and that’s not the only way to build bigger clients into your growth plans.

If you’re more comfortable sticking with domestic commerce, don’t overlook opportunities to work in the public sector. Whether you’re a moonlighting consultant, full-time freelancer, or owner of a small business, you could be qualified for certification as a federal government contractor.

And that’s a huge market. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, each year, federal government purchases of small business goods and services come to nearly $100 billion. If your small business can use a chunk of that change, check out these free online resources. They can support your company’s move into government contracting and help ensure that you compete effectively in this lucrative market.

You don’t have to go back to school to become a government contractor—but you can, free of charge, through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s online Government Contracting Classroom. See the course list here.

Which federal agencies are seeking the products or services that your small business provides? Check the General Services Administration’s searchable database, FedBizOpps.Gov.

Before you can pursue government contracting opportunities, you’ll need to register with the GSA’s System for Award Management. Don’t forget to complete the small business profile; it will be integrated into the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search database, which agencies can use to find prospective contractors.

If you qualify, it’s a good idea to complete certification as a minority–, woman–, or service-disabled veteran–owned small business or as a small disadvantaged business. From this page, you can learn about certification benefits and procedures for each of these classifications.

Another point of entry to government contracting is working as a subcontractor to a larger business that is already a government vendor. The SBA maintains an online directory of business names and contact information collected “from subcontracting plans that are submitted to the Government when a large business receives a Federal contract over $650,000.”

Don’t forget government contracting at the state level. The Minority Business Development Agency, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, maintains this online directory of state offices for minority- and woman-owned enterprises.

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