Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Government Contracting

The federal government is by far the biggest purchaser of goods and services in the United States. That means that government contracting can be unbelievably lucrative for small businesses - if they know about it and can navigate around the red tape involved in government contracting.

I spoke to the Office of Naval Research for my column last week. They are one of the rare government agencies that actually fund R&D, mostly for new military weapons systems and battlefield applications.

But every kind of small business that's willing to try can probably sell something to the government. In 2010, small businesses received $98 billion in government contracts - and yet the government's "set-asides" for small business are never completely fulfilled.

This means that money that could go to small companies gets left on the table every year - or shunted over to much larger companies.

That's why it's important for small business to learn how to do business with the government. And it's not all about federal contracting - local and state governments also put out contracts and many of them prefer to do some portion of their business with smaller companies.

American Express OPEN does a yeoman's job getting the word out to small businesses about government contracting opportunities. They host free events around the country in which CEOs of small companies can meet government procurement officers and see what's available and how to bid on government contracts.

They have a couple upcoming events I should let you know about:

Here in Los Angeles, their event is being held next Wednesday, Sept. 21, at the Westin Bonaventure hotel downtown from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can register in advance  or even walk-in and see what's going on.

Another event will be held in October in Dallas. These are first-rate opportunities that any entrepreneur looking for new contracts would be crazy to miss.


  1. I don't suppose they need writers, do they?

  2. I have been told that they buy everything - from maid service for housing to office services of all kinds.

    It would be tough for a solo-preneur to make it through the contracting red tape, however. The cost alone would probably be overwhelming!

    The good news, for those who can do it, is that the president just announced that the feds are going to a 15-day pay schedule, which is unheard of anywhere, let alone in government where payment is ensured but typically very slow.

    15 days will help cash flow enormously for small contractors and is another incentive for them to check out the opportunities.