As a small business owner, you're in a unique position to help satisfy the needs of the federal government. Through a contract system with the General Services Administration, also known as the GSA, you can apply to sell your service or product directly to government agencies. When you're an approved vendor through the GSA, you're on the priority list when someone working for the government needs the type of product or service that your company provides. Here's a look at what you need to know to get your business on the short list.
You can't bid for a GSA contract until your company is considered eligible. There are a few steps you will have to take for this.
Register on the Central Contractor Registration Database – This database stores vital information about businesses that want to work for the government. You'll have to provide in-depth information about your business, including your current financials and tax identification number.
Register for a Number from the Data Universal Numbering System – You must have a number from this database before your business will be considered. The DUNS number is used to track your company, its services and its work for the government.
Complete a Federal Background Check – As with any other government service, you'll have to complete a thorough background check, including fingerprints and a character investigation.
The government uses several different GSA schedules to break down their approved vendors by industry or category. You'll need to identify which one of the GSA schedules best fits your company by reviewing the guidelines and assessing the opportunities associated with each one. Then, once you've been approved to apply as a vendor, you can apply for the current opportunities that are open.
The list of open opportunities details the types of contract work that the government currently needs. This can be both product acquisition and services. Each listing includes a detailed look at what's required and the deadline to apply. You'll have to include your DUNS number with the application.
In most cases, the GSA officers will be looking for affordability, so they are going to want to negotiate your rates to the lowest possible price in the interest of saving tax dollars. Be prepared for this negotiation process by knowing what types of discounts you're willing to provide and how low you can reasonably drop your price without putting your business in a financial bind. The better the deal you can offer, the greater your chances are of being accepted.
It can be a lengthy process to get approval for GSA contracting, but once you do, your company becomes a go-to for the government's needs in your area of expertise. With these tips, you can enter the process with confidence.