How to Become a Government Contractor. A government contractor provides goods and/or services to federal, state or city agencies. A company of any size can offer its product or service to the government successfully, provided they meet strict standards, follow government procedures and learn how to bid and network properly. Government contracts offer top dollar to the right companies, but that money doesn't come easily.
Preparing for the Government Contract
Ask yourself if you have the time and skill to fill out initial paperwork and apply for contractor status. Dealing with the government may require special certification, and researching for bids is a tedious and ongoing task. Be certain you can handle these responsibilities.
Check your finances. Government contracts sometimes involve delayed payments. Make sure your company has enough income from other sources to tide you over while waiting for payment from the government.
Play second fiddle. Some small and medium-size companies are sub-contractors on large, lucrative contracts. This means they work with a major contractor, usually a large corporation, that handles the brunt of the contract fulfillment for the government.
Choose your approach. City, state and federal agencies need products and services from the private sector. No matter what your company offers, there is an agency that needs it. Study the contracts up for bid on city, state and federal websites and in the library to get an idea of what agencies need your services.
Network with government officials. Go to every event and conference you can for potential contractors. Get to know local politicians, and procure meetings with everyone involved in government in your area, from city council members to executives on the local public transportation board.
Bidding and Securing the Contract
Study the specifications of a contract that interests you. If you are sure that you can follow through with the work, request an RFP (Request for Proposal), and then write a proposal. The more professional looking your proposal is, the better. Be aware that the finished paperwork has to be delivered to the bid desk at the specified time.
Wait patiently. It may take weeks or even months before the agency comes to a decision on awarding the contract. While you wait, research and prepare other proposals.
Follow through on every detail of the contract if you win. Remember that the government can deny payment if they determine that your work is sub-standard or you do not follow contract specifications.
Partner with a larger company. You may need to team with another small company or work as a subcontractor on the coattails of a corporation, to get your company known as a viable government contractor.
Expect a decent income from you initial government contracts. However, the ridiculously large amounts quoted in news reports don't always jibe with reality. Many government contracts offer a maximum of 15 percent profit for the contractor.
- If you are a female- or minority-owned business, acquire special certification. Many contracts are set aside for such businesses every year. Contact state and city agencies if you are interested in local government contracts.