Where do I start in the government market?

By Abraham Xiong

Where do I start in the government market?

To facilitate the answer to this question, I want to teach you a few more Governese words.

Fed vs SLED

What are these acronyms? Fed stands for Federal agencies and SLED stands for State, Local, and Educational agencies. Also, I would lump hospital systems to SLED.

Quick overview of what I mean by government agencies:
  • 85,000 government entities in the US: 
  • 1 federal, 3 branches, 24 federal depts., 100+ sub-agencies
  • 50 states
  • 3042 counties
  • 35,963 cities and townships
  • 14,566 districts
  • 31,131 special districts
  • 5 US territories

Where do I start in the government contract?

With so many agencies to choose from, which one do you start with? Should you focus on agencies in your backyard and start with your city or your county? Do you pursue state agency opportunities? Or should you engage federal agencies?  

The answers to these questions are unique to each company. It depends on your products and services. Maybe what you have to offer may be ideal for school systems. If for some reason, you’re not sure which path is ideal, my suggestion is to start at the federal level. These are my main reasons why the federal market is a great place to plant your contracting seeds.

  • Small business certifications have goals and accountability through the SBA/GAO/Congress
  • Sole source contracts have a high threshold of $8 million dollars
  • Set-aside contracts to small businesses have a goal of 23% utilization
  • Federal buyers prefer Best Value versus lowest price technically acceptable (LPTA)
  • Each federal agency assigns an office to help small businesses (OSDBU/SBS/SBA/OSBP/etc)
  • Large prime contractors are required to subcontract 35% of projects to small businesses
  • The Mentor Protege program can greatly help your business get to revenue
  • References from a subcontractor or teaming partner can be used as past performance

The above are some great reasons why I normally recommend starting at the federal level, however, your situation may require you to start at the SLED level.

It’s not about DOING the work, it’s about WINNING the work!

I often meet newbies entering the government market limiting their offerings to only the services or products which they carry or have experience with. What I’m about to reveal to you here is a secret strategy that the successful companies do not want you to know about. The most powerful thing I’m teaching you is HOW TO WIN CONTRACTS.

Your aim is to learn how to win contracts and not get stuck on doing the contracts. What do I mean by that? It’s not that you don’t perform on the contracts awarded to you. You use the B2B2G or B2B2B2G method and let others perform on the work while you go and win another contract. There are many professionals and companies out there that know how to execute. They may even be better at it than you. What they don’t know is how to win contracts. Once you know how to win contracts, you can subcontract work to many others who are great at performing the services or manufacturing the products.

This strategy can be summarized as “winning the work and not doing the work.” As for doing the work, use the B2B2G method and let others perform the work or deliver the products while you go and win more contracts. 


In summary, your short term and long term government contracting strategies are key components of your Capture Plan. I’ll show you more about how to create a capture plan in future blogs.  We still have a lot more to cover so you can understand the groundworks of what goes into a capture plan.

Stay tuned as we move forward to the next step of Education. We will discuss the language of government contracting, Governese, and how it will help you to gain a foothold on your government contracting success.


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