Fiscal year 2022 is about to begin, what are you doing now to set yourself up for success? Having a strategic plan in place to get you through the year is a great way to gauge your level of opportunity vs. your ability to gain new contracts and perform well. For small businesses in government contracting, establishing benchmarks within your plan for the year can allow you to overcome the challenges that may arise without getting caught up in the failure to win some of what you bid.
I hear a lot from GovCon leaders that they all-too-often put all of their eggs in one basket and the opportunity “well” ran dry and they had nowhere to turn. Taking into account that some failure may occur, you will need to know where next to pivot, and establish multiple options for success to assist in keeping the pipeline full.
Here are some strategies to further assist in securing success and growth this year.
Where to look for contract opportunities
It is not always good enough just being the best at what you do. Being successful at what you are the best at requires finding opportunities to showcase your work and performing at a higher level than the competition. But it isn’t always easy to find the work. Government contracting offers access to growth for your business, but you have to know where to look and become a hunter for the opportunities that have a need for your expertise. SAM.gov is a great place to start your search as you can find a lot through this site in regard to contract options.
It is also a great idea to network and connect with contracting officers who can give you insight into when award opportunities are available for you. Additionally, many solicitation requirements come directly from the agencies needing your assistance, so following their updates on social media and directly from their website is also a great place to frequently check. Once you find the avenues that share opportunities that best fit your capabilities, you will see many proposal/ (RFP) options.
How are you going to fund it?
This is the biggest issue that no one wants to talk about. Why? There is such a taboo regarding the need for working capital yet it is the single biggest challenge for all small businesses, particularly government contractors because of the payment cycles and upfront costs. However, your ability to show proof of finance ability, whether in past performance or letter of credit, is a differentiator in an award process. In some cases, providing a letter of credit can be the reason you get the work over a competitor. In all cases, it is a leading reason you have the opportunity to win bigger and better contracts because it shows your ability to perform the requirements.
Government contractors need to be aware of the many options available to you, at the stages they are accessible to you, so that you know ahead of time what connections to make and when to engage for financing purposes. There is a reason all of the options exist, but you are best suited when you know what you need to fund exactly, what option is available to you, and why or why not it is in your best interest.
Traditional and non-traditional lines of credit, asset-based lending, factoring, purchase order financing, and merchant cash advances are common-place options in government contracting. But the accessibility and pricing vary, so it is best to understand the benefits and limitations of each before you choose.
Finding a finance partner with knowledge of government contracting should be the key resource to deciding what option is best for your needs and available to you at the stage you are in with your business. Having a knowledgeable partner that understands what you will use the funds for and help you establish an amount that fits the need and your ability to sustain profitability is invaluable.
Cybersecurity compliance can make or break your access to awards
There is no doubt that you have heard all the hype about the need for cyber requirements to satisfy NIST 800-171 and CMMC. Chances are, you have a plan of action, but it could be beneficial to consider it as a way to make strides up the supply chain by being among the first to fulfill the requirements. Small businesses that show they are compliant with both will likely gain access to opportunities more well-known competitors typically win.
Primes like to partner with the same businesses all the time because they have already vetted their capabilities. However, if they fall short of meeting compliance requirements, they may be forced to the back of the line allowing for newer businesses to get noticed and subsequently start earning their work. While these requirements will necessitate a fair amount of financial investment, the long-term reward for being ahead of your competition could benefit you monetarily by way of access to bigger and better contracts.