4 Steps on How to Get Started in Government Contracting

federal government contractingThe government buys nearly everything – - architectural services, machine parts, signs, property management, financial planning for soldiers and their families …even K-12 dance lessons!

To become a government contractor, you will need to devote some time routinely working on the following four (4) steps:

  • Vendor registration applications

You should consider your business formation.  I recommend that you structure your business as an entity other than a sole proprietorship.  If you structure it into a corporation, you will gain the benefit of the corporate veil protection so long as you do not pierce the corporate veil.

You should get a Duns number from Dun and Bradstreet and a tax identification number.  You should also get a commercial banking account.

Further, you will need to look up your product and service NAICs and NIGP codes.

  • Small business certification applications

The government supports small businesses with set aside programs.  You should embrace the fact that you are small and try not to compete with large businesses.  When contracting opportunities are set aside for small businesses, large companies cannot serve as the prime contractor on these jobs.

In federal contracting, you merely need to meet the Small Business Administration’s size standards to be eligible for emerging and total small business set asides.  However, there are other opportunities for SBA 8a, Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Historically Under Business (HUB) Zone certified firms.

In state, county, and city contracting, you will need to apply for certification as a Disadvantaged, Minority, and Female Business Enterprise (DBE, MBE, FBE) certifications.

  • Networking

networkingSales and Marketing 101 do come into play.  People buy from who they know, like, and trust.  So, you should plan to network in the government contracting arena.  Select a few agencies to target.  Perhaps, you can start with 5 federal agencies, 5 state agencies, 5 county agencies, and 5 city agencies.  Start close to home and go with agencies that are known to need what you sell.

  • Network with government purchasing decision makers
  • Network with larger prime contractors to position your firm for subcontracting work


  • Bid Proposal Writing

Be sure to set up a system to routinely search for, write, and submit proposals to try to win contracts.  You have to compete.   All too often, I come across business owners that are not happy with their sales – but do not make the time to bid on work – or to hire a consultant to do it for them.

  • Search for Bid opportunities
  • Write and submit Bids

Submit a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule contract proposal.  More and more government agencies are using the GSA Schedule contracting mechanism because it saves their contracting staff time and energy.  So, if your firm has completed contracts over the past two years, then look into getting on a GSA Schedule.  It is a way to get pre-qualified and pre-negotiate your pricing.  Here is a list of GSA Schedules.

Tell me – What’s your government contracting game plan?

Feel free to contact me if you need help.


Clovia Hamilton, President

Lemongrass Consulting





Written by

Clovia Hamilton is an entrepreneur with 30 years of professional work experience as an adjunct biz law & ethics professor, university technology transfer specialist, engineer and planner. Clovia is a licensed patent attorney and completed an Executive MBA at Wesleyan College. Her next pursuit is a Phd in Mangt and she supports The Phd Project, American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Women in Public Policy (WIPP)! Clovia has trained hundreds of business owners since 1999 when she began to assist the Univ of IL in Champaign with faculty high tech start ups. She has also assisted hundreds of small biz owners by training them on how to get government grants and contracts.

4 Comments to “4 Steps on How to Get Started in Government Contracting”

  1. leningmoses says:

    I am a small business owner and it took me more than 3 years to win my first Government contract. Patience and persistence is the key to success.

    • Clovia says:

      Three years to win a government contract does not surprise me. On average, statistically, it takes 2 years for most folks. The key is to get great training, consulting, and to truly value the importance of building relationships!

  2. suneetha says:

    This article is giving very useful information about tips to get government contracts. all the steps are clearly explained and written in simple words sothat everyone can understand easily. it is very informative article that helps people who need information about government contracts

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