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As a business owner your time is limited. B.I.G. New Media: The Business Information Group works to make the best use of that time with GovSchool. You can read and watch helpful material to get you started finding and winning new government bids and RFPs delivered daily by GovDirections.com.

3 Fatal Mistakes to Avoid in Government Contracting

Making mistakes in Government contracting is completely acceptable. Not learning from them is what jeopardizes your business...
— Mark Knowles, founder, GovDirections LLC

 

Most agencies will talk to you about the benefits of Government contracting, but very few will actually point out the most challenging aspects of this venture and how to overcome them. Ask some of the most successful contractors, and they will tell you that their Government contracting endeavors had their fair share of flaws.

Making mistakes in Government contracting is completely acceptable. Not learning from them is what jeopardizes your business and pushes it to the back of the line. It is a highly competitive, rigorous and complex market that requires the utmost expertise, dedication and perseverance. Without these, you cannot possibly hope to attain a modicum of success in the field of Government contracting.

As mentioned before, learning from the mistakes made is key to surviving and thriving in the Government contracting business. When you commit a mistake, you should be quick to acknowledge it, understand it and respond to it with the necessary adjustments and changes. This is how you develop your contracting skills and put yourself in a more advantageous position the next time around.

The following are three of the most costly mistakes that contractors have made in Government contracting. Acquaint yourself with these fatal mistakes so that you can avoid them and have a smoother run in this field.

1) Making Your Business Look Risky

What does a risky business look like? Well to begin with, a risky business is one that has no praiseworthy or laudable track record. When you have no customers that you can refer to, you are running a risky business. The lack of a bank account, credit history, website or social media page are all indicators of a business that does not have a guaranteed existence, let alone guaranteed success.

You need to understand that contracting officers are trained to select the crème of the crop, which certainly does not include businesses that are under the risk of extinction. In other words, the motto of Government contracting (from the Government’s perspective) is to choose the option that has the lowest risk factor.

Now that you know the requirement of the contracting officers, it is on your shoulders to ensure that you lower the risks as much as possible. The lower the risk factor of your company is, the better will be your chances of being acknowledged and approved by the Government officials. To make sure that you look credible, the first course of action that you need to take is be registered in the Central Contractor Registry or CCR. This is the simplest way of securing the legal basics. Once that is done, you can focus on increasing your reputation by opening up a website, social media page, a professional email account using your website’s name and everything else that will add a greater degree of credibility to your company.

2) Not Understanding the Language

It does not matter whether you are at the local city level, the state level or the Federal Government level, every section has a language of its own, along with individual procedures and processes. If you expose your inability to understand the conversation, procedures or acronyms, you endanger your chances of ever making it up the Government contracting ladder.

At every new meeting, outreach session and conference that you attend, you will come across a host of new terms and acronyms that you have probably never heard of before. It is your responsibility to jot down these words and become familiar with them as soon as possible. This is how you learn the lingo and enhance your command over the language.

3) Being Unprepared

A lack of preparation before asking for and meeting with decision makers makes you appear as a careless and unprofessional organization that does not fully comprehend the value of research. You will be provided with abundant background information by the Federal Government entities, but at the same time, you need to do your homework to be able to analyze the information that you have been presented with.

This is where business philosophy comes into play. Having data on your table cannot be regarded as knowledge. It is only when you assess and analyze the data that you acquire knowledge. Without ample knowledge of the subject, your preparation with the decision makers will always remain incomplete.

If you avoid these fatal mistakes, you will be doing yourself a world of favour in the field of Government contracting. These tips can lay the foundation for a healthy, well oiled and stable Government contracting business.

Learn to Write Government Contract Proposals: 5 Tips

5 Tips for Writing Government Contract Proposal

Government contracting is a very profitable business for both small and large companies. Despite how attractive Government contracting may seem on the outside, the reality of the situation is that getting landing a Government contractor’s job is as competitive as anything else in the world of business. An enormous amount of time, effort and investment has to go into Government contracting. In other words, it is a complicated process that can only be simplified by your willpower to learn and progress.

One of the things that companies often struggle with is writing a Government contract proposal. For some, the idea of not being able to be eloquent enough to woo the Government officials seems quite laughable, but truth be told, this is a very serious problem that affects most companies who are in the running for Government contracting. It’s no longer about having a remarkable technical writer who gets the “status quo” spot on. If you want to be regarded highly by the Government officials, you need to walk the extra mile to impress them with something that goes beyond the basic RFP requirements.

Here are 5 simple rules to follow for hitting the nail on the head for Government RFP and proposal writing.

1) Understand the Government’s Problem

Don’t jump into writing a document before you have a complete understanding of the Government’s problem, their aims and their intentions. Do as much research as you can on the nature of the Government’s predicament. Without adequate understanding, you cannot put forward a proper response to the Government officials. The last thing you want is to submit a document that falls short in substance and depth.

Do not fill up the RFP response with fluff. Pretentious documents barely scratch the attention of the Government officials. Make sure that you are letting the Government know that you have done your homework on the particular problem that they are trying to solve. Discuss the industry and the problems that are related to the Government’s contract. Propose plans that you will implement with the Government’s help in order to eradicate the problems that have affected the concerned industry.

2) Don’t Hide Your Costs

If you are to assume that the Government officials are novices and have no knowledge about the industry you are involved, then you are paving your path to a “Federal Rejection”. Before the Government looks for private contractors, they do their research on what your service or product costs. According to the procurement rules, the Government has to come up with an estimate of some sort, which they will not usually stray from. When formulating this estimate, the government takes into account the cost of services and products of nearly all the businesses that are involved in your sector. Therefore, it would be quite foolish for you to try to mislead the Government by hiding your costs and trying to get away with a bargain.

3) Always Compete

The main focus of writing a Government proposal should be to stamp your authority over your competitors. Think of the proposal as no more than an audition, where you are trying to impress the judge (the Government) that you are better than the rest of the participants. In order for you to be better than your rivals, you need to have a basic understanding of what they may conjure up in their proposal. Based on that tentative knowledge, create your own proposal that will outshine theirs. This strategy may not always secure the gold medal for you, but it will at least put you in contention for the runners up spots.

4) Exhibit Your Knowledge of Procurement Rules 

The last thing that you want to do when writing a Government contracting proposal is make the government assume that you are a rookie company which has very little knowledge about procurement rules. Let your understanding of the procurement rules shine through in your document. The Government will quite obviously have a liking for those companies which are well versed in the Federal laws, rules and regulations.

5) Keep Your Weaknesses Hidden 

No company is perfect. Every company has its flaws, its weaknesses and sometimes even “dirty laundry”. Revealing any of these to the Government is the same as not applying for Government contracting in the first place. The solicitations often ask you to describe past problems and how you handled them. Respond to this question in the most roundabout way as possible, without fabricating facts and including lies.

Follow these 5 simple steps and you will never again be dissatisfied with your Government contract proposal writing.