Ask SCORE: The two greatest opportunities for small business in the world government contracting and international business
The two greatest opportunities for small business in the world government contracting and international business
By Richard Walton, Assistant District Director for SCORE
Why is government buying a great opportunity for small business?
The US Government will spend this year more than $500 Billion. Of that figure the government has a goal of allocating 23% ($115 billion) to small businesses through mandated small business set aside programs. There are also programs for minority and women owned businesses. Wouldn't you like to get your share?
Here's how to get started.
First you need to understand that the government buys according to a process, which is the Federal Acquisition Process. Information can be found at www.acquisition.gov/far.
Next you have to register with the government's contractors databases. They are:
Central Contractor's Registration, www.ccr.gov
Dynamic Small business Search Engine (part of ccr above)
Online Registrations and Certifications, http://orca.bpn.gov
Then you have to learn what has been bought in the past and what procurements are coming up in the future. The sources are:
Past Procurements: Federal Procurement Data Center https://fpds.gov
Forecast for Future Needs www.fedbizopps.gov.
Then it is a matter of making contact with agency procurement personnel and their requests for quotations, the RFQ. The RFQ is a complex document and should be prepared with utmost care, hopefully with some assistance by qualified personnel.
State and local offices are large buyers as well.
It pays to get to know and take part in the government procurement process.
How can I get started in international business?
97% OF all exporters are small businesses. 96% of all customers in the world reside outside of the US. This means that the world market is far bigger than the US market, and there are many small businesses already active in it for a huge variety of products and services. What's even more important is that the government is eager to help you get started in selling internationally. Wouldn't you like to get your share?
Here are some resources
Information on Going Global: www.sba.gov/international
Training in How to Do it: www.sba.gov/training
Success stories, www.sba.gov/tools/audio video/index.html
Market Research, Trade Leads and Export Finance: www.export.gov
Assistance for Your Small Business: www.score.org
The growth of the World Wide Web and other communication systems such as Skype, International Cell Phone Service, and web based conferencing tools make it possible to work closely with customers as well as suppliers in foreign countries almost as easily as if they were in the US.
In summary, small businesses in the US have two of the greatest opportunities in the world: Government Contracting and International Business. What are you waiting for?
Mr. Walton teaches Entrepreneurship and Quality Management at Frostburg State University. He is also Assistant District Director for SCORE, Western Maryland, and the President of ERMACORP, a Hagerstown based Management Consulting Firm. He may be reached at 301-462-9850, or by email to Richard@ermacorp.com.