Here are some realistic strategies for penetrating the market if you don’t have extensive government connections. We will start with the easiest approach and end with the most challenging entry method.
1. Start as a subcontractor to an established government contractor.
If you don’t have past performance yet, you’re only as valuable as your own and your colleagues’ resumes. According to government rules, your resume and the projects you have participated in while supporting the government (even with another company) count as your company’s past performance if your company is a new entity. When you “shop” for a prime contractor, you need to sell yourself to them rather than promoting your company, which doesn’t yet have any credentials. The trick is to make sure your company gets credit for the work, so you need to resist simply being brought onboard as a W-2 employee of the prime contractor. You’ll also want to confirm that your prime contractor provides past performance references; some primes don’t provide references as a matter of policy.
2. Go after state and local government contracts.
State and local government contracts count as government past performance, and they are typically easier to win when you are just starting out, especially if you have the right relationships and your overhead is low (meaning lower prices). The right relationships matter in state and local governments a lot more than in the federal market.
3. Start with smaller contracts under the SAT in your area of expertise and grow them into bigger opportunities.
For micro-purchases, the level of the required justification is low. Once you have done your job, you will have successfully delivered a government contract. This allows you to gradually grow your ability to get prime contracts. If you can get on a GSA schedule, you make it easier to buy from you, which gives you another advantage.
4. Become a subcontractor on a multiple-award vehicle.
In these situations, some primes are not as picky when selecting teammates. So they might bring you on board regardless of your lack of experience. You can then drive some task order work your way.
5. Create a joint venture and use their past performance as your past performance.
Before you do all this, though, you will need to make sure that you find the customers who are perfect for what you have to offer.
A Smarter Strategy for Breaking into the Federal Contracting Business
Many companies start their search for government contracts by creating a list of every possible service and product they can offer the government. Then they find a NAICS code to match every item on that list, and they pursue an array of opportunities. It’s tempting to cast the net as wide as possible and claim to offer as many services as possible. But failing to focus your pursuits typically backfires: companies waste time chasing opportunities they’re unlikely to win. A smarter strategy is to spend more resources upfront analyzing your business now and what you’d like your business to become. In this way, you can identify the best contracts to pursue and build a realistic and sustainable path to winning them.
If you need a clear strategy to take your company to the next level of growth, let our experts find government contracting opportunities in your core competency areas.
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