Your Business is Certified- Now What?|
May 17, 2017
Billions of dollars in government and private sector contracts are awarded each year. A certain amount of these contracts must be awarded to small business, small disadvantaged business, veteran owned business, women owned business, minority owned business etc. This happens due to legislative mandates or good polices at the government (federal, state, local) and private sector levels. If you belong to one of these favored categories the first step is to become certified in that category. For example, if you want to receive a NYS contract under the state’s goal of giving at least 30% of its contracts/subcontracts to women and minority owned businesses-you need to be certified as a woman or minority owned business by NYS. There are also certifications available by specific state /state affiliated agencies, NYC. There are federal certifications. Many Counties have their own certification process. And many corporations (Fortune 1000,500,100 etc.) certify businesses directly or outsource their certifications to organizations such as the National Women Business Owners Corp.
Once you have the certifications in the appropriate categories by the agencies, corporations etc. with which you want to do business- now what? You can’t just sit by your phone expecting that call from NYS for the big contract award. First thing- make sure your web site, business card, social media and other information about your business is up to date, correct and appropriate for the business you seek. Equally important, make sure you have a concise business capability statement ready to present to prospective clients. Second, perfect that 30-60 second elevator speech. Once this is all done, now you have to actively and aggressively market yourself to the agencies, companies with which you want to do business. Get your company on bidders’ lists so you receive the notices (rfps, rfq’s etc) of contracts. You can go directly to the agencies/companies, their conduits such as Value Added Networks (VANS). You can sign up to receive publications /on line and otherwise –such as NYS Contract Reporter. You can consult the LaGuardia Community College Procurement Technical Assistance Center whose mission is to help small businesses obtain and perform on government and other contracts. You can also consult the SUNY Farmingdale Small Business Development Center which has a Procurement Counselor and can put you on an on line service to receive bid information from multiple sources. Another marketing necessity is to introduce yourself to and remain on the radar of the buyers for the appropriate agencies, companies. This is where the concise capability statement and perfected elevator pitch comes in handy. The buyers will always make time to meet with you so you can introduce your company, product or service. However, they will not sit there listening to you for an hour. You need to make your pitch concisely and in a convincing manner. How do you find the government agency and private corporation buyers appropriate for your business? Talk to your business compatriots, your trade association, consult PTAC, SBDC. Work with community resources such as the Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs, Office of General Services etc. They are looking for qualified minority, women, veteran, disadvantaged (Section III) companies who can become prime contractors or subcontractors on projects. And don’t forget about the “qualified” part. There is no point in being on bidders lists, meeting with buyers, looking for contracts if you can’t perform on them! Make sure you go after contracts where you can fulfill the requirements. You only get one chance to make a good impression. And, taking on a contract you can’t afford can destroy your business. Make sure you have the financing in place and the necessary staff, tools, partners to positively perform on a contract.
Being a small business, minority, woman, veteran owned business etc. can be a way to grow your business. But it takes certification, going after the business, and successfully performing to make your business a winner in the government/private sector contract arena.
Roz Goldmacher, Esq. is President/CEO of the LI Development Corporation family of economic development organizations. www.lidc.org