Understand the rules of government contracting before you invest time and money into trying it

government contractorThe first step toward becoming a government contractor is to be certain you sell something the government buys. And, whatever you’re selling needs to be sold at competitive or market prices. Forget any stories you’ve heard about the government buying $900 hammers and paying outrageous prices for goods and services. It has happened, but safeguards are now in place to prevent it. Getting caught even once trying to do that can eliminate the possibility of you ever getting government contracts.

A good second step would be to have an existing business with a track record of delivering goods or services on time.   The procurement process for getting government contracts is extremely long as compared to private industry. And, it’s a good idea to be able to pay your mortgage or rent, eat, buy an occasional outfit, and see a little entertainment sometimes. Before beginning your quest to add government contracting to your revenue streams. Because, getting your first government contract can easily take two years.


Take a serious look at your company or the one you plan to open. Unfortunately, the award of government contracts is not made because someone feels sorry for you or they want to help you get your business going. They’re made to companies known to deliver on their promisses. And, the only way to prove you’ll deliver is to build a track record of having done so. Depending on your offering, you must attempt to build a business without the government. Unless you have an offering that’s used exclusively by the government. If your offer sells well to the general public, identify a niche within that group and try to sell to that niche first. If you have a specialty offering, identify who would most benefit with it’s use, and try to sell to them. No company can be built by trying to sell to everyone. And, the government is not designed to help you start a company.

The award of government contracts in set aside programs is designed to be a helping hand not a hand out, to existing businesses. Should you choose to become a government contractor, it must be viewed as something you are aiming to become in the  future. YouR primary objective must be to build a company the government is willing to make purchases from. Too often, people are disappointed to find, that business cannot be developed through sales to the government. Regulations dealing with government contracting programs for small businesses are outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations. The government’s purchasing process is governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulations. These regulations stipulate that contracts cannot be awarded to individuals or companies that aren’t in compliance with their requirements.

If government contracting is in your future, it’s a good idea to become familiar with the major points of these regulations. Then, with your existing company to ensure you’re prepared to comply with government labor standards statutes. This process could take some time when you’re starting a business alone or with a small group. But, it’s best, if you plan to become a government contractor, to aim to reach that goal as a material part of your business strategy. For more information on determining if you qualify to be a government contractor and helpful hints on getting contracts once you become a part of one of their set aside programs, view our section on Government Contracting Advice.


The largest government-wide contracts are procured through the General Services Administration (GSA). GSA Schedules are extremely helpful when a business has their goods and services placed on the GSA list of approved vendors. In fact, 10% of all federal procurement in the United States is done through GSA Schedules. The GSA has produced over 19,000 Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) Each year the federal government spends $30 to $40 billion on GSA Schedules, which is roughly 9% of the total spent on government contracts. Procurement Officers enjoy using GSA Schedules to award contracts because it is convenient for them to purchase your goods or services. The process works as an online shopping directory where procurement officers can simply order and purchase. The award of GSA schedules may be made to small companies but you will competing with large companies known to deliver what they promise. If you have decided to apply for inclusion on the list of approved vendors be certain you’re prepared to make on time deliveries of products or services requested by government procurement officers. Being listed in one of the schedules may help you get the large awards that have the capacity to grow your company rapidly.