By Joe Kuklis
Taking advantage of the government marketplace can be nuanced and long winded, but government checks don’t bounce and federal, state and local governments buy everything from paperclips to tanks. It is without a doubt the largest market segment that most businesses could ever dream of but why do so few seize the opportunity to serve it?
For one, the perception is dealing with the red tape is encumbering and that getting paid takes far too long. In some cases this was true, but the government in all of its iterations has gotten more efficient in its RFP and administrative processes over the last two decades. Are they 30 day payers? They are rarely but who is in these economic times? The truth is, government is willing to pay fair market value and in some cases higher for a service or product from a company that has a strong record of delivery and performance. These days, it is no longer “low bid” but “best value”.
So how do you as a small business owner take advantage of this incredible market place? Here are a few tips from my new “how to” guide, The Robin Hood of DC:
- Explore whether or not spending the time to get on the government vendor lists are worth it for your company. It may take some time and effort with forms and waiting, but in the end, receiving valuable RPFs and sole sourced contracts can be a great way to supplement your sales numbers and expand your client base.
- Work with your elected officials. They can be great legislative champions and help expedite this vendor process. Remember, they are there as public servants and it is in their best interest that they help your company grow in their districts/states.
- Be patient. The government is a juggernaut and it takes time and effort to win business. But once you break the government inertia, it is also just as hard to stop. If you do quality work and perform, the word will travel from one department to the next. There’s only one or two degrees of separation between managers in this community and referrals travel fast.
Joe Kuklis, expert political lobbyist and head of Duane Morris Government Strategies, has built a successful career lobbying for organizations and businesses of all sizes – he and his staff have helped raise a half a billion dollars for clients ranging from Fortune 500 corporations to one-person start-ups. Joe’s book, The Robin Hood of D.C., is an insider’s guide to the government marketplace for small, mid-sized and large businesses. Visit www.robinhoodofdc.com for more information on this topic.