The Development Source
If you are a small business, you probably are wondering what the future holds for you in federal, state, and local government contracts. The last couple of years have been uncertain ones for many companies, large and small.
Don’t despair. There are concrete, practical, and realistic steps you can take now to prepare to submit competitive proposals to government agencies in response to Request for Proposal (RFP) opportunities.
Mark Amtower of Washington Technology has five recommendations that you should consider. I will apply them to the field of proposal development.
If you are a very large business, you can submit hundreds of proposals every year to many government agencies. However, small businesses do not have the time and resources to focus just on the “government.”
Instead, you should identify a few government agencies that need your products or services and concentrate your time and resources on them. By getting to know a few government agencies really well and by building partnerships with them, you are likely to submit more competitive proposals because you have a solid context for your bids. Knowledge and relationships can take you a long way.
Responding to RFPs is costly and time-consuming. Boost your business prospects by developing long-term teaming arrangements with medium and large businesses. You may have a niche that is very attractive to bidders. In addition, large companies need to bid with small companies on federal proposals. This approach will help win you government contracts as a sub-contractor and provide you with the experience and reputation to bid on your own.
Your proposal team should constantly be increasing its proposal skills. They should become members of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), attend local chapter meetings, and become accredited proposal professionals through APMP.
You need to constantly enlarge your network. Join local associations, local APMP chapters, attend government conferences and briefing sessions, hand out plenty of your cards, and follow them with telephone calls and meetings. Other businesses need to know that you are a potential bidding partner.
To win government contracts, you cannot be a generalist. You must define your products and services very clearly and narrowly to respond to specific contract opportunities.
These approaches should all be part of a coherent strategy for your small business. Focus on what you do best, build partnerships with other businesses and with a few government agencies, and become more skilled at proposals, and you should win more government contracts.