Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

How to Get Started in Government Contracting

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

How to Get Started in Government Contracting

Article excerpt

If your small business wants to expand, keep in mind that the U.S. government is the world's largest customer. Every year, federal, state and local governments contract more than $300 billion with outside businesses in everything from cleaning services to airplane manufacturing.

As the biggest buyer globally, the U.S. government not only does business in open environments, but also allows many women-owned and minority businesses to find a steady supply of work and profit.

"If you take into account all the markets for federal, state and local government, it's a huge market," said Carter Merkle, program manager at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education. "One advantage I've seen is when the commercial market dips, the federal market thrives. There's lots of reasons why, but the commercial market is based on consumer confidence, while government agencies have to continue and even crank up business."

Another advantage is that having the U.S. government as a client can give a business a bigger stamp of approval.

"What we do in our office is look at what your business is providing or selling, look at what the government is buying and who in the government is buying," Merkle said. "We help do the research into who is buying the services you are providing. And the government buys almost everything."

Getting started with government contracting can be easier with agencies like Oklahoma's CareerTech and the SBA helping. Besides finding government clients, these agencies also help businesses with required paperwork, registration on government databases and more.

"One important thing to keep in mind is once you are in with the federal government, you need to keep at it," said Merkle. "The government requires you to have a history of doing good work, so you need to pursue constant work and keep your track record fresh."

Businesses don't have to just focus on the federal government. State and local governments like cities, school districts, state agencies and more also have to operate under competitive bidding requirements as well. …

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