I’m from Orlando, Florida – the land of Mickey Mouse -, so I am familiar with “It’s a Small World.” The reality of it is true in government contracting: “It’s a small, small, world”.
I have heard many contractors say that it isn’t an easy world to break into, and even harder in some markets to make headway if you don’t already know people on the inside. I have discussed this topic with my trusted partners lately and discovered there are three things that seem to be the reigning threads throughout the government contracting community:
- Relationships are important.
- Your reputation is paramount.
- You must be reliable with your word and your work.
Building Trust in a Business Relationship
Who you know is impactful in any industry. In my experience, relationships have always been key. I have a mentor that prides himself in knowing everyone, everywhere, and never forgets a name. I see the value in the human factor of doing business. Being able to create lasting relationships is an incredible way to be successful. Not everyone can do this, but if you have the gift of being genuine and creating friendships, you probably know what I mean.
Government contracting is a small world, AKA “the good ‘ole boys club,” AKA “if we don’t know you, we won’t do business with you”. Lasting relationships show integrity and character in this industry. Businesses owned and operated by veterans understand this concept well because of their experience with military life and how it creates a community of like minds, a family, and establishes a trusting interaction where business dealings are a perk of the human connection.
The Importance of Reputation
Your reputation will always precede you in government contracting. When you do business within a close-knit community, your reputation is everything. It is through past performance history that your business gains contract opportunities. Your performance history is a direct reflection of the reputation for your work and is the foundation on which you build additional relationships.
Doing business with the federal government provides evergreen opportunities, but all of that can be taken away if your reputation is tarnished. Your biggest asset is being able to attain additional opportunities by time and again proving optimal performance in your contract work.
Consistency is Key
The tie that binds is in the reliability both in how your performance made other businesses feel about doing work with you (trust), and how well you actually performed that work. Your relationship gets you the meeting, your reputation earns the opportunity, and your reliability wins the ability to bid again.
Consistency in your character and work will give your business longevity in government contracting. You want to both be a business that can show lasting relationships, positive reputation, and reliability and one that can share what you have learned with businesses rising the ranks behind you. This is a loyal community. Once you’re accepted, you have unlimited potential – but you will have to show your worth through your relationships, your reputation, and your reliability.