Selling products and services to the U.S. government? It’s a big market, and potentially a very lucrative one; in fact, Uncle Sam buys nearly 100 billion dollars worth of goods and services from small businesses each year. Selling to the government, however, is different from selling in the commercial sector. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a variety of guides, tools and training to help companies navigate the contractual maze.
- Online community. Ask the experts in an online community of more than 30,000 members. The Government Contracting Discussion Board is particularly useful when issues and questions arise during the process.
- Free online training. The SBA’s Government Contracting Classroom offers a series of free courses to help businesses each step along the way.
- SBA contracting programs. SBA offers a range of programs designed to help small businesses sell to the government. These programs include small business assistance, as well as support for groups such as women- and veteran- owned businesses, disadvantaged businesses, and those located in economically distressed areas.
- Blogs and articles. Hundreds of articles written by SBA and government contracting professionals help explain the particulars of doing business with the U.S. government and its agencies.
- Local SBA offices. The SBA’s 68 district offices throughout the country are ready to provide necessary support, training, and assistance.
According to SBA Administrator Karen Mills, more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since the beginning of 2010, and as of March 2012 the Department of Labor estimates 229,000 current job openings in the manufacturing sector. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that one in three Americans who work in manufacturing work at a small business.
A recent report from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a program of the U.S. Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology, shows that a lack of available capital to manufacturers has “restricted the ability of many small manufacturers to grow and compete.” The SBA has accordingly developed some new tools to support access to capital, including a redesigned Supply Chain loan program (CAPlines) that provides low-cost, short-term financing to help small contractors and subcontractors get the working capital they need.