No, government contractors are not going to be sidelined under the Trump Administration. In fact, they are going to remain essential to the nation’s work as skilled experts become more in demand in the coming months. That means many companies’ wishes may soon come true. President Trump’s proposed infrastructure modernization initiatives are sure to stimulate a slew of government business opportunities. So will increased spending on technology infrastructure and services by state and local governments and an anticipated boost in the defense readiness budget.
Even if a mere 25% of the projects outlined on his one-trillion-dollar priority list come to fruition in the next few years, private sector companies are still going to see those activated projects translate into billions of dollars of new business opportunities. That’s why 3 in 4 U.S. construction firms expect to increase head count this year in a gear up for “the Trump spending windfall.” But as government sourcing increases at all levels for construction services and materials, technology solutions, and widespread support services, so will the competition. It’s going to take much more than a skilled workforce, or even past public sector experience, to win the government’s business moving forward.
So, whether you’re a veteran vendor or just now trying to break into government contracting, follow these steps to ensure you’re ready to dig in (literally) and hit the ground running if and when the right opportunity emerges:
Often times, when starting out in business, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s okay. But when you’re first pursuing government business opportunities, or trying to compete in new categories, the key is to hone in on what you do know and build a solid business strategy around those strengths.
Knowledge is power, and by meeting with procurement officials at various agencies, you can educate yourself about the types of opportunities they offer at their agency, the current competitor landscape (and current gaps in their vendor pool); their supplier qualification and performance liability requirements; and their preferred selection method for various types of contracts. This will help you determine whether or not your resources align agency needs.
It’s easy to become eager about the unprecedented business opportunities that will arise from government modernization actions at all levels. But enthusiasm, unmatched by performance, doesn’t equate to long-term success. Evaluate your business model to see how much growth you can sustain and how fast, then focus on doing what you do really well. As the former Procurement Director for the State of Arizona once said: “Start small and prove yourself.” Fortunately, the government procurement system is built upon the premise of equal opportunity, so startups and 20-year industry leaders alike can compete on a level playing field for each contract. By focusing on providing quality goods and services each time versus winning the highest quantity of contracts in the beginning, you’ll quickly prove your worth with procurement officers and qualify your business for more significant opportunities, which will pay dividends down the road.
Growth is good, but growing too fast can backfire. Especially if you’re allocating exorbitant amounts of manpower and money in the pursuit of solicitations that may or may not be a fit with your business goals or expertise (see step 2). Instead of overextending yourself in the hopes of winning more contracts, embrace best practices recommended by your peers, and proven by the competition.
For example, if you’re still manually searching for bids, or signing up for notifications from multiple individual sites, then it’s time to simplify your search process by subscribing to a single, catch-all bid notification service like BidSync LinksPlus.
Indeed, the public sector is ripe with new opportunity for suppliers like you. And, yes, every supplier has the potential to enter new market categories such as those denoted on President Trump’s list of infrastructure, defense and technology modernization priorities. But do you know what you will do if the procurement officer wants to see a past performance record for a category in which you’ve never competed – even if you’re the number one choice right now based on price? Or, how you can adjust your business model if you have the most categorical expertise but aren’t competitively priced? Make sure you have a game plan for every situation.
You’ve done your due diligence and you know what procurement officials are going to look for when they release, let’s say, a construction contract. So you register in the right vendor systems, obtain the appropriate licenses and certifications, and secure any special designations for which you might be eligible to solidify your candidacy for each contract. You even determine which qualifications to showcase based on whether the contract will be awarded via Best Value (BV) or Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) criteria. But, have you secured the right bonds or liability insurances to truly qualify for this project? Have you adjusted your accounting methods to reflect the post-project invoicing structure of construction contracts? Have you secured funding to support your business, and pay your employees, until you are paid? (Usually 1-2 months after project completion.) Make sure you think beyond the requirements of the solicitation response when choosing which opportunities to pursue. Otherwise, you could be obligated to fulfill contract terms that you can’t – and were never prepared – to meet. And a mistake like that can cost you future opportunities in every category, not just construction.
Check out these industry-specific resources for more tips on how to prepare for new government business opportunities being driven by the Trump Administration, especially in the Construction, Public Works, Transportation, and IT segments.