When disaster strikes, and people are displaced from their homes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) needs contractors to move trailers to the affected areas quickly. This can be an excellent opportunity for a small business owner to make a difference while getting some business. As you may expect, becoming a contractor with FEMA can involve a lot of bureaucracy, but it can be well worth the effort.

Why Contract With FEMA

Before you start the process of becoming a government contractor, consider if it is the right type of work for your business. Many contractors work with FEMA because it is as lucrative as it is fulfilling. Each year, FEMA awards billions of dollars in contracts depending on the number and scale of disasters to which they respond. Between the end of August 2017, when hurricane Harvey devastated Texas, and October of the same year, the agency spent over $2 billion on contractors. If you want in on that action while also helping people recover from disaster, you must first jump through a few hoops.

Register Your Business

Before you can do any contracting work with any federal agency, you must fill out the appropriate paperwork to get listed in the right databases. First, register with the System for Award Management (SAM). Registering your business in this system is completely free if you do it yourself, but you can hire a professional to do it for you.

Once your business is successfully part of SAM, use the system to register as a government contractor. You can also update your business listing whenever you need to, log in to check the status of your registration and search the database for exclusion records. It's important to remember that you must submit a notarized letter that appoints an entity administrator before you can fully register. You must complete this step even if you have contracted with the federal government before.

Complete the Vendor Profile Form

Once you have thoroughly registered with SAM, you can also fill out FEMA's Industry Liason Vendor Profile Form. This form gives FEMA more information about your industry and business. While it does not technically grant you preferred status, there's no harm in making it easier for FEMA to hire you.

Work on Your Online Presence

When FEMA officials are on their way to a disaster site and looking for local, approved contractors, they are often in a hurry. These professionals do not always have the time to thoroughly research every potential contractor, so it's important to make sure your business is easy to find online and that your presence is excellent.

First, consider enlisting a search engine optimization, or SEO, expert to ensure that your website shows up in relevant searches. Also, keep your website up-to-date. It should be professional, mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. Anything that makes it easier for FEMA professionals to find you will help you get the gig when they need you.