Do you Speak Governese?
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
~ Nelson Mandela
To unlock the secrets to government contracting, first you must learn to decipher the Rosetta Stone of this industry. You must learn its alphabets, phrases, acronyms, culture, people, and you must learn to speak its language. As Nelson Mandela alluded to in this quote, you want to get to a person’s heart, not just their head. To succeed at winning government contracts, you must learn how to speak “Governese.”
How well do you understand Governese?
Uncle Sam speaks Governese, but do you? Like Venus and Mars, the private and public sectors are different planets. Uncle Sam, for instance, comes from a different culture, one in which he speaks a bizarre language full of strange words, acronyms, rules, regulations, and red tape. I call this language “Governese.”
Here’s a linguistic test for you. Read the section below and see how much you understand. It’s written in Governese, or “govspeak,” with instructions on what you should do to be successful in the government market:
For your business to be successful in the B2G market, you should start by researching federal procurement regulations. Read the FAR, DFARS, FASA, NDAA, UCC, CFR and Federal Register. Next, attend an APEX and SBA training session. As a small business, check out MBDA, SBDC, NDIA and NCMA for help. If you’re a Native American, go to NCAIED. Next, use FPDS and USASpending to do research on past performances and contract awards. Find the incumbents and benchmark after them.
After you’ve learned the basics, you will need to register your company.
First, identify your SIC, PSC, NIGP and NAICS codes
Then obtain a UEID and CAGE number
Next, register as a vendor in SAM using the LOGIN site.
Make sure you have your primary and secondary POCs, corporate info, and your TIN
Lastly, you’ll need a strong MPIN.
To gain a competitive edge, learn about sole-source contracts and find out which certifications you’re qualified for. Check into these federal set-aside programs: HUBzone, 8(a), ED/WOSB, SDVOSB, VOSB, Section 3 and various other initiatives. If you’re seeking local and state projects (SLED), consider DBE, SWUC, HUB, LSBE, FBE, APABE, HABE and SWAM. If you prefer to start with commercial projects, check out the MBE, AABE, WBE, VBE, and LGBTBE certification programs.
Based on your business size standard, consider using a teaming strategy, when pursuing a solicitation. This will help you build your past performance. Sometimes, the opportunity may come out as a pre-sol, sources sought, RFP, RFI, RFQ, IFB, or other contracting methods. One strategy is to start as a subcontractor, so you don’t have to take on the responsibilities of being a prime. Another idea is to form a MP relationship with a prime and then set up a JV. The prime is required to have a small business plan (SBP), which can be an advantage to your company.
To find solicitations to bid on, use the following sites: SAM.gov, iSearch, eBuy, DIBBS, GovGenie, and Fedbid (Unison Global). Also, use these contracting vehicles to help: IDIQ, MATOC, GWAC, BPA, OTA, BAA, STARS III, SATOC, FSS, MAS, GSA Schedules, ITES, FSSI, Micro Purchases and SAP. Start promoting your company by meeting with the OSDBU, SADBUS, SBS, SBLO, OSBP, and SBA BOS. By now, your Capability Statements should be complete, so send them to a few agencies.
Start by sending CO/KO the short one page version. Oh, and make sure you’re DCAA compliant because the DoD, GAO, OFCCP and OMB have stricter compliance measures now. If you want to get paid, ensure that you’re not listed on EPLS. And finally, register with e-verify, WAWF and ESRS as needed.
Seek Help and Get Comfortable with Governese
If you understood more than 80% of what you just read, congratulations, you’re nearly fluent in Governese! But if you couldn’t grasp the contracting language above and had to Google the acronyms for meaning, then doing business with Uncle Sam will be difficult. It would be equivalent to you trying to do business in Japan, but without Japanese fluency or a translator.
If you don’t speak Governese, or you’re struggling to understand it, you should seek help. You need an interpreter. So, let me get you started on the right path with a concise and easy to follow methodology over the next few blogs. I will help you position your company to have the optimal chance of landing contracts.
I’ll teach you how to successfully enter and remain in the Business to Government (B2G) market for years to come. Join me on this journey where I will help you master Government Contracting, discover little known secrets, and teach you how to fish so you can sustain your company, staff, and family for a lifetime.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abraham Xiong
Mr. Xiong is a social entrepreneur, executive trainer, blockchain ambassador, technology enthusiast, business coach, community leader and small business advocate. He is the Founder of GovGenie.com, which is a marketing automation platform to assist government contractors in scaling their companies in the B2G marketplace. GovGenie is offering readers of this article a free trial access: www.GovGenie.com