Today the Small Business Association’s (SBA) Women’s Procurement Program law goes into effect to expand federal contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses. There are $30 billion in contracts set aside specifically for women. For the 80,000 women-owned small businesses registered to do business with the federal government, this is an enormous opportunity.
For the first time, federal agencies can set aside contracts specifically for women-owned small businesses. In addition to opening up more opportunities for women business owners, the rule is also another tool to help the government meet its statutory goal that 5% of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses. Women received only 3.4% of federal contract dollars in 2009.
Participation by women business owners in federal contracting can be a lucrative revenue booster. According to American Express OPEN’s government contracting survey, two thirds of women whose firms do business with the federal government generate more than $1 million in sales.
After a business has its NAICS code, D-U-N-S number and is registered on the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) – the primary supplier database for the federal government, Lourdes Martin-Rosa, American Express OPEN Advisor on Government Contracting, offers the following tips to help business owners stand out from the competition and get a leg up on the more than $500 billion the U.S. government spends each year on goods and services.
- Get your business certified: Visit www.sba.gov/gcbd to determine if your business qualifies for Small Business Certification
- Know the agency you are targeting: Before responding to any government solicitation, check out the history of the agency’s product/service awards at www.fpds.gov.
- Check out the procurement forecasts for your targeted agencies: Each federal agency produces and is required to post on their website an annual procurement forecast, maintained by its Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) or equivalent. Contact each agency OSDBU at www.firstgov.gov to see what goods or services they anticipate buying.
- Make your price list easy to understand: Address all required items, even if they’re not applicable. If you’re in a competitive area, you may need to discount your top commercial price. But don’t discount so much that you will lose money on the transaction, and keep in mind that government agencies seek the best value, not necessarily the lowest price.
- Learn from those who preceded you: Use available resources to find information that will save you time and money.
For more resources on how women can get ahead, visit the Give Me 5 website for online resources and information about regional events. American Express OPEN also created OPEN Insight Guides on OPENForum.com/
governmentcontracting to provide tips and advice for business owners looking to do business with the government.