Opportunities in the Federal Marketplace for Women-Owned Small Businesses

The U.S. government, the world’s largest customer, most likely buys what you let’s start by looking into how they are buying what you sell. An easy way to check is to go to GSA Advantage! – a government purchasing service of the General Services Administration (GSA). Created in 1949, the GSA is an independent agency of the U.S. government established to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. Once you are there, type in your product or service in the search box. This will most likely bring up all of the other companies who are selling that same product or service to the federal government via GSA Schedules, confirming that the government certainly buys what you sell.
Once you have confirmed that the government does indeed buy what you sell, consider the following:
•The GSA Schedules Program to take your business to the next level: If you have been in business for a few years and have seen reasonable success you can reference, the GSA Schedules program may be a way to transfer your commercial success into the government marketplace. GSA Schedules are fast, easy, and effective contracting vehicles for both customers and vendors. Under GSA Schedules, the GSA establishes long-term government-wide contracts with commercial companies to provide access to millions of commercial products and services at most favored customer pricing. To learn which GSA schedule is right for you, again enter the product or service you sell in GSA eLibrary. This will result in a listing of the GSA Schedules and SINs (sub-categories) that contain some variation of that product or service. You then can read about each example and find the schedule and SIN that best fits your business.
•Small Business Certifications to set your business apart from the competition: Certification can help you by limiting your pool of competitors. Another plus for you may be that you qualify to be certified in more than one category. As an example you may be a minority as well as a woman which means you may qualify for an 8(a) certification as a woman owned company. If you have served in the military, you may have the distinction of becoming veteran-owned or service disabled veteran-owned. To learn more about whether you qualify for any of the certifications offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), visit the SBA’s website and type in certifications in the search box.
•Teaming up with another woman who complements what you do and has had success and past performance in government contracts: Finding another women or small business owner who needs your services or products to complete or enhance their offerings to government can be the perfect match to grow in the government marketplace. In some cases there are mature small businesses that are willing to mentor you and grow a strategic alliance that can benefit both companies. According to American Express OPEN’s government contracting survey, small business owners who engage in teaming win 50 percent more contracts than active contractors overall.
•Growing your network: Like any other marketplace, making face time, building your brand and developing relationships is what government contracting is all about. One key advantage that women have today that may not have been around many years ago is the growing network of women in government and in the Department of Defense. Just like the “Good Old Boys” networks of the past, women are now finding their network to be a key benefit. More women are mentoring other women as well as building those networks for referrals. Have a good elevator speech on hand that concisely hits on at least three key points about your business. An effective elevator speech should elicit a few more questions from the prospect, allowing you to provide a more robust picture of your capabilities.