The U.S. government is the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world. Learn how to find, compete for, and win federal government contracts.

If you are looking for ways to grow your clientele in 2021, consider doing business with the federal government.

The federal government aims to award at least 23% of all federal contracting dollars to small businesses each fiscal year. The federal government exceeded this goal in fiscal year 2019, awarding 26.5% or $132.9 billion in federal contract dollars to small businesses.

Federal agencies achieve small business contracting goals in a few ways. For starters, to help provide a level playing field for small businesses, the government limits competition for certain contracts solely to small businesses. These contracts are called “small business set-asides.” Some set-asides are open to any small business, while others are open only to small businesses that participate in SBA contracting assistance programs.

Geared toward specific sub-sets of business owners, contracting assistance programs help small businesses win federal contracts through mentorship and exclusive contracting opportunities. Many small business owners have used SBA’s contracting assistance programs as stepping stones on their path to success. For example, SBA’s 2020 Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year Diana Lewis Jackson, President and CEO of Action Facilities Management, Inc., was a former participant in SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which provides technical assistance, business training, counseling, and more.

Learn about SBA’s contracting assistance programs and consider whether one could be a good fit for you:

  • Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program: Specifically intended for women-owned small businesses (WOSBs), this program helps participants tap into the 5% of contracting dollars that the federal government aims to award to WOSBs each year. Learn more about recent changes to the certification process for WOSBs and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs here. 
  • 8(a) Business Development Program: This program is geared toward small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities – a group that the federal government aims to award 5% of contracting dollars to annually.
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOSB) Program: The federal government aims to award 3% of contracting dollars to SDVOSBs each year.
  • HUBZone Program: This program fuels small business growth in historically underutilized business zones (HUBZones) with a goal of awarding at least 3% of federal contract dollars to HUBZone-certified companies each year.
  • All Small Mentor-Protégé Program: This program enables small business owners to get valuable business development mentorship from an experienced government contractor. The program benefits both parties because mentors and protégés in the All Small program can form joint ventures together. This allows the mentor to qualify for set-aside contracts that the small business protégé is eligible for.
  • Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program: The government sells large amounts of natural resources and surplus property. The SBA works with federal agencies to channel a fair share to small businesses through small-business set-asides. This program covers five categories of federal resources, including timber, royalty oil, and more.

How to get involved in SBA’s contracting assistance programs

If any of these programs sound like a good fit for your business, check SBA size standards to determine if you qualify as a small business for federal contracting purposes. Then, find out if the program you are interested in requires a certification. Each program has its own standards and processes for certification, so make sure to learn about the specific program and contact the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development with any questions.

If you don’t qualify for SBA’s contracting assistance programs but would still like to pursue government contracting, there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved. Review SBA’s federal contracting guide and consider meeting with an SBA resource partner to start working on your contracting plan today.

Article Courtesy of the SBA