How to access federal acquisition market and enjoy your piece of the $32 billion pie
General Services Administration reported the whooping $32.8 billion in contract sales in the fiscal year 2019. If your business still targets only the commercial market, you are missing excellent business opportunities right now. In fact, only about 1% of businesses in the U.S. sell to the government. However, the market is huge, and 2020 is a good year to start working with GSA to get your share of this tremendous pie.
What is GSA
General Services Administration is a government agency that manages all federal purchases. GSA website is www.gsa.gov. Whenever a federal, state or municipal organization needs something, it buys it through GSA. And when we say “something” we mean literally everything, in fact, from paper clips and cleaning services to electronic hardware supply and building construction. GSA procures products and services using a special contract vehicle called Schedule.
Two things are important for businesses here. First, since the government needs everything, there is strong demand in literally any product and service whatsoever. In your product and your service, that’s it. Second, GSA is obliged to set aside at least 23% of contracts to small businesses, so if you still think government contracts are only for “big guys” like Boeing or General Electric, you may need to reconsider your position.
Why working with GSA
Here are plain benefits:
- New GSA business opportunities. Penetrating the government market can bring you a strong stream of profits and a lot of business opportunities to further grow your company. If you always wanted a magic pill to skyrocket your business – this is it.
- Guaranteed sales. As long as you fulfill the terms and conditions of your GSA Schedule contract, you are guaranteed to sell to government for the whole contract period. Typically, a GSA contract is 5 years plus up to three prolongations for another 5 years.
- Relatively low competition. Let’s put it straight, there is competition on the federal market. But it is lower than on the commercial market, because still not so many businesses are offering their products and services to GSA.
- Reliable client. Actually, the most reliable client in the world. And the most demanding, of course. But GSA contract sales guarantee quick turnaround and 100% insurance your work will be paid.
- Fits small businesses. There are 30+ million of small businesses in the U.S. Merely 4000+ of them hold GSA contracts. The government actively seeks to cooperate with small businesses to increase this number.
- There are benefits for disadvantaged businesses. The government supports socio-economically disadvantaged small businesses. Women-owned business, veteran-owned businesses, HUBZone business, and other disadvantageous businesses receive support from GSA and set-aside contracts.
How to start your GSA business?
Doing business with GSA is not a cakewalk. You need to seriously prepare for that and do your homework first. The very broad step-by-step to start selling on the government market through GSA is:
- Register your business at SAM.gov and get your NAICS codes
- Pass the required training. There are GSA courses for novices that are necessary to complete before you can register with GSA.
- Prepare documents for GSA registration application. This includes your financial statements, past performance reports, pricelists, legal documents etc.
Surely, you can find the exact list of requirements to start selling to GSA on the GSA website. The process of getting on the Schedule can take months and months. But the result is worth it. Also, if you need help getting a GSA contract you can hire a consulting firm that specializes on government contracts preparation. In many cases this can greatly simplify the process and help you getting your first GSA contract faster.