How to Get Government Contracts as a Small Business

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Did you know that the federal government contracts $240 billion annually to private firms every year, and by law, 23% of those contracts must go to small businesses? That means that there are $55 billion to $60 billion in government contracts available to small and home-based businesses every year.

If you don’t know where to start to tap this huge market, you are not alone. Most home-based entrepreneurs don’t. However, the Small Business Administration is working to change that.

There are $55 billion to $60 billion in government contracts available to small and home-based businesses every year…

Hector Barreto is an affable, intelligent man who was the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration. I spoke at length with Barreto some years ago and he explained that when he was appointed to run the SBA by President Bush, he quickly realized a fundamental truth: “What small business wants is the same as what big business wants – more business!”

Barreto also explained that while these federal government contracts and the required 23% set-aside seemed like a great opportunity to help small businesses, most of the contracts went to businesses “inside the beltway” (that is, in and near Washington, D.C.) He thought small businesses around the country should get a chance to earn some of these contracts. “They have the know-how,” he said, “but not the know-who.”

Barreto figured there had to be a way to hook up small businesses with federal contract opportunities. He was right, and so the SBA teamed up with HP and “Business Matchmaking” was born.

According to Barretto, Business Matchmaking is a program that “matches small companies with federal, state, and local government agencies, and large corporations that have actual contract opportunities for products and services.” Even better: Large corporations that contract with small and home-based businesses have also joined in and participate in Matchmaking events, and SCORE (The Service Corps of Retired Executives) has joined the party to offer free counseling.

To make matchmaking even easier, the program travels around the country every year, bringing together those looking to buy goods and services with local small businesses looking to sell to them. By signing up and attending one of these events you will get to meet procurement officers who are specifically looking to buy what you have to sell.

According to Barreto, these events have been an unqualified hit. “In one or two days at one of these events, a small business can see more contractors with real contracts than they could in a year on their own,” Barreto said. “It’s better than a trade show because at our events, buyers who are ready to buy are meeting small businesses ready to sell. We are matching supply with demand.”

So, if you have a product or service that you think might be useful to a government or large corporation, including Hewlett Packard (and more and more corporations are joining-in because the one-stop-shopping aspect makes it a cost-effective venture), then go sign up.

With all the complaining people do about government these days, it’s great to know that there are still plenty of great ideas and programs that create real results. Bravo!