State and federal government agencies contract with businesses in the private sector for all kinds of goods and services, and these often lucrative deals are not just reserved for the big players. In fact, there is a requirement that close to one-quarter of these contracts be awarded to small businesses in an effort to support small business owners and foster entrepreneurship and competition. Although entering into contracts with the government is a surefire way to help a small business grow and thrive, it can also be overwhelming and time-consuming, as there are usually a lot of requirements and conditions attached to these agreements. Thus, to ensure that your business follows all applicable laws and remains in the good graces of a particular agency it is important to work productively and efficiently and engage in ongoing communication to facilitate contract progress. Here is how to stay on track:
Use Appropriate Technology
Virtually every agency relies on automated systems and specialized software to negotiate, enter into, and maintain contracts with private parties. In some cases, a government contract may actually stipulate that the other party use a specified system to conduct certain affairs relating to the contract, or at least utilize a software package that has certain capabilities. In general, there will be more oversight throughout the contracting relationship, so some of the stringent technical requirements, while initially a bit onerous, usually help to keep things streamlined.
Follow all Rules and Regulations
Companies should always follow rules and regulations when conducting their affairs, but this is an absolute necessity when dealing with the government. People in the business world may be willing to turn a blind eye or allow the occasional misstep, provided that it does not have a major impact on one party or the transaction in general. With government contracts, however, this simply will not fly. There are a lot of industries that are heavily regulated and a ton of government contracts fall under those categories. Plus, it is the government, the very entity that legislates and enforces the laws of the land.
Fulfill all Terms and Conditions
This may sound like the exact same thing as following all of the rules and regulations, but those are all of the applicable laws surrounding a particular industry, whereas terms and conditions arise from the contractual language. Breaching a contract with a government, especially for small businesses, may end up being a death sentence. In addition to severing ties for the specific agreement, a company is unlikely to ever bid successfully on a government contract again. Before entering into any contract with the government, it is important to ensure that your company has the resources to deliver exactly as agreed upon and expected.
Participate in the Mentorship Program
Ignorance is not an excuse for non-compliance, and the government offers a host of resources to assist small businesses with navigating the complexities of government contracting. An example of this is the mentorship program, which pairs firms that are inexperienced with government contracting to firms that have contracted with the government for quite some time and have developed expertise in the area. The mentor relationship provides assistance with respect to management, technical aspects, and financing. In addition, the mentor and protégé can even team up to work on government contracts together, allowing those new to the sphere to have experienced folks help to guide them through the process.
Government contracting offers companies of all sizes a potential source of handsome and steady revenue, as well as other opportunities. Thus, going into the process prepared and taking advantage of the many resources that are available will be critical to ensuring efficient and productive contracting relationships that both sides will want to continue.