Assessing Your Business Infrastructure-“Begin With The Ending In Mind”
By Abraham Xiong
Now it’s time to dive into the nitty gritty and look at how to get your business organized to start winning contracts and presenting yourself in the best way possible to the Large Primes and Government Agencies who are ready to engage you. But more importantly, to think of your exit strategy to begin the foundation of your business.
PREPARATION PHASE: Preparing Your Business for the B2G Marketplace P+P+P+P=P
In this first Phase, I will be introducing you to the Four Steps you will need to learn to prepare your business for long term success in the Business to Government (B2G) marketplace. If your business has been around for a while, then some of these areas will serve as a quick reminder of what you’ve done already. It may also identify holes which you need to fill.
For newer businesses and entrepreneurs, these first Four Steps will prove to be critical in serving as your blueprint to quickly help you get your business on the fast track to winning government contracts.
STEP 1 – ASSESSMENT: Assessing Your Business Infrastructure
STEP 2 – STRATEGY: Creating a Strategic Plan for Short-Term and Long-Term Success
STEP 3 – EDUCATION: Learning to Speak Governese
STEP 4 – REGISTRATION: Getting Registered and Obtaining Certifications
If you’re ready, let me get you started with Step 1: Assessing Your Business Infrastructure.
STEP ONE – ASSESSMENT: Assessing Your Business Infrastructure
“Begin with the end in mind.” – Stephen Covey
Where should I begin?
The best place to start is by taking you back to the very infancy of procurement. Government contracting in the USA unofficially started on April 19th, 1775, with the “shot heard around the world” as the American Revolution started. In these formative days of a fledgling nation, unofficial government procurement needs for weapons, uniforms, meals, wagons, and other such items were sourced.
The first official government contracting legislation started with the Purveyor of Public Affairs Act of 1795. Since then, government agencies have proliferated to over 85,000 federal, state, and local agencies. There are thousands of regulatory policies for each agency, with the federal government codifying theirs in nearly 2,000 pages through the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Some federal agencies have supplemental regulations to the FAR.
The collective budget of all government agencies (federal/state/local) is over $9 trillion each year. The federal government buys over $680 billion in goods and services each year. State and local agencies procure over $1.5 trillion.
Hopefully, I’ve opened your eyes to the largest customer in the world. Next, I want to reveal this very obvious secret to you. My first piece of advice is to start your contracting journey by assessing your business infrastructure. This process considers two major factors:
(1) Where your company stands currently, and
(2) What you want to ultimately achieve from entering the Government contracting market
Is your company properly prepared to offer its services to government agencies? What exactly are you trying to get out of government contracting? By figuring these things out, you will better prepare yourself for the success that you seek.
Let’s dive a little deeper into our assessment process. Firstly, it’s important to know what’s expected of you. What exactly is the government looking for in a company? This may seem like a loaded question, but it’s not as complex as you may think. Among other things, the government wants a company that has:
- Proper vendor registration
- The capabilities, resources, and finances to get the job done
- An effective marketing strategy to engage agency buyers
- Has prior references or past performances
- Knows how to develop and sustain a good relationship with government customers
- Knowledge about what agency needs and how they need it
Remember, the government is risk averse. They don’t want to do business with just anyone.
They want a company that is properly set up and has all their business infrastructure in place.
By following my advice, your company will be able to fulfill these expectations in a cinch.
Now let’s look at some major areas and make sure you’ve got everything ready to enter the government market.
20 POINT ASSESSMENT
First thing first, let me get you in on my secret checklist. Get your business ready by doing a 20 Point Assessment and Contract Readiness Survey on your business.
I’ve prepared this document to help you gauge where you are and to see how ready you are for government contracting. There are multiple tabs on the sheet so go through each one thoroughly and score your company. You may pause reading and use a little time to go through this exercise to evaluate your business.
Link to assessment: https://tinyurl.com/20pointassessment
If you need help, use this video to help guide you through the 20 point assessment:
To further prepare your business, use this corporate assessment in this next area a useful tool for new or start-up companies (and also for making sure existing businesses are all set to grow):
- Have a business plan. This may differ depending on the specifics of your organization (new/existing, non-profit/profit). Use this link to view great business plan templates: www.tinyurl.com/bizplantoday
- Choose a business name that is befitting what you want to offer to agency buyers (if you don’t have one already) and register a website domain name. Make sure to have a business name that will allow you to pursue multiple contracting opportunities. For example, if your business name is: Cathy Smith Janitorial of Atlanta, Inc. This might be a very limiting business name.
It means that Cathy, the owner, may become a potential bottleneck. Everyone wants to talk to Cathy and no one else at this company because she branded the business after her. Also, with the word ‘janitorial’ in the business name, that means the company can only do janitorial work. What happens if you see a renovation project or a HVAC opportunity and you want to bid on it? The business name limits your ability to go after other niche markets. Furthermore, the name has ‘Atlanta’ in it. This makes the company more of a local or at best a regional type of company. If you have a name like this, my suggestion is to do a name change or a Doing Business As (DBA) and go with Smith Solutions International, Inc which gives a completely different brand image.
It may seem like a menial step, but we will go over the importance of why, as well as organizing a team of people to help you prepare to win government contracts in part 2 of the Preparation Phase.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abraham Xiong
Mr. Xiong is a small business advocate, social entrepreneur, executive trainer, blockchain ambassador, technology enthusiast, business coach, and community leader. 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