Do you have a product or skill that the government buys? Are you considering government contracting as a way to start or grow a business? Navigating the contracting registration and certification processes can be challenging for those new to government contracting.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Seek help with registering. To be eligible to sell to the federal government, your business must be registered in SAM. The registration process is challenging. If you don’t understand what is being asked and you enter wrong information, you may not be able to apply for contracts. Common mistakes include:
- Registering as a non-profit instead of a for-profit small business
- Not making your profile public
- Complete your small business profile. NAICS codes are used by federal agencies to identify products and services. These codes are very broad. To help distinguish your company from the many others using the same commodity codes, be sure to add a short, written statement of your capabilities, key words, non-governmental certifications (CPA, engineering license, C+++,etc.,) and references to your SBA profile in the Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) data base.
- Have a business email address. Establish an email address associated with your business, such as email@example.com. Avoid using gmail, aol, and yahoo email addresses.
- Do create social media pages for your business. Government agencies now use LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. These platforms can help you connect with government buyers and can help them learn more about your company.
- Include a “Government” tab on your website. This makes it easier for government buyers to find the information that is important to them. Include your commodity codes, capabilities statement, certifications, and other information that is pertinent to federal and state contracting.
- Seek assistance in applying for federal certifications, including 8(a), woman-owned small business (WOSB), veteran-owned small business (VOSB), service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB), and HUBZone, as well as applying for the All-Small Mentor-Protégé program.
- Search for upcoming opportunities on USASpend.gov and fdps.gov. Agencies forecast their spending for 3 – 5 years. Knowing how they plan to spend will help you prepare for future opportunities and be prepared to bid.
- Register to be a Virginia PTAC client. The Virginia Procurement Technical Assistance Center (Virginiai PTAC) provides procurement training, consulting, and bid-matching services free of charge to federal contractors.
- Register in eVA. To be eligible to sell products and services in Virginia, you must register in eVA at eva.virginia.gov and create an Ariba account. You will want to apply for SWaM certification as a small, woman, or minority owned business.
- Make an appointment to meet with a SBSD advisor. Small business and supplier diversity (SBSD) advisors can show you how to use public report and other easily available information to learn which agencies buy what you sell, who the buyers are that you need to connect with, how to reach those buyers, and what vendors are getting orders.
Important Update: The DUNS number will be eliminated in April 2022 and replaced by the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). A business’s UEI will generated by SAM. To learn more about this change, see https://www.gsa.gov/about-us/organization/federal-acquisition-service/office-of-systems-management/integrated-award-environment-iae/iae-information-kit/unique-entity-identifier-update.
The Government Contracting Assistance Center (GCAC) at the University of Mary Washington Small Business Development Center (UMW SBDC) can guide you through the world of federal and state government contracting. Our consultants can help you register in SAM and eVA, complete your SBA profile, and apply for applicable state and federal certifications. We can also connect you with PTAC and SBSD advisors who can assist you to identify opportunities and connect with buyers.
To make an appointment with a UMW SBDC consultant, you will need to complete a Request for Consulting at umw.edu/sbdc.