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The U.S Federal Government is the world’s #1 customer for small businesses. They purchase a wide range of products and services in both small and large quantities.

The government doesn’t do this necessarily out of the kindness of their hearts but are required by law to provide such opportunities to assist the small business sector. To put it frankly, no matter the state of the economy, one customer keeps buying – the Federal Government, and as a business owner, you should want them as a customer.

So how does a business owner begin the process of the obtaining government contracts? Let’s dive a little deeper into the steps required to begin working with the world’s #1 customer.

1) Find out if you’re a Small Business in the Federal Government’s Eyes

You should at this point be asking yourself, “Do I qualify as a small business?” There are specific requirements that a business need meet to be deemed a small business. First and foremost, you must meet the size standard. A size standard is a numerical representation of your business, reflected by number of employees or average annual receipts. Use this SBA Size Standard Tool to determine if you qualify as a small business.

Additionally, it is highly likely that your business also falls into one of the following Government Contracting Programs allowing you to take even further advantage of the $400+ billion spent yearly on awarded contracts:

2) Obtain your Businesses Dunn & Bradstreet Number (DUNS)

Before you can bid on government proposals or government contracts, you must obtain your Dunn & Bradstreet number. Your DUNS number is your businesses unique nine-digit identifier and represents each specific location that is associated with your business.

To obtain your DUNS number, you will be required to provide the following information:

  • Your legal name
  • Any DBA’s (Doing Business As) or other names by which your business is regularly recognized
  • Headquarters name and address
  • Both physical and mailing address, city, state and ZIP code of your business
  • Business telephone number
  • Contact name and title
  • Number of employees at your physical location
  • Whether or not you are a home-based business

Aren’t sure if your business has a preexisting DUNS number? Visit this D-U-N-S Number Lookup Tool to find out.

3) Properly Register your Business in the System of Award Management (SAM)

This is where things might get a little overwhelming. Rest assured though, obtaining government contracting opportunities for your small business can open up a wealth of additional revenue resources and skyrocket your business. Registering your business with SAM is essentially the ‘A’ of the alphabet and you’re first real starting point.

So what is SAM?

The System for Award Management was designed to streamline the process of both obtaining and procuring federal contracts by integrating the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance and all federal procurement systems into one.

Let’s try that again, perhaps in laymen’s terms; what is SAM?

The System for Award Management is basically database of vendors that the government is approved to do business with. You need to be an approved vendor, so your business needs their SAM registration.

Once your business is registered with, you will receive a CAGE code (Commercial and Government Entity Code) which is essentially a five character compilation that showcases your SAM registration approval and allows the government to pay you for any contracts won or grants received.

Important stuff. Money.

4)  Understand the Process Involved in Government Contracting

Navigating the government contracting process in its entirety is intensive at times and can feel overwhelming. This can be viewed as both a positive and a negative. The ultimate positive here is that because of the fact that government contracting can be a tedious and lengthy process, your competition is scarce. Not all businesses take the leap into working with the Federal Government which ultimately leads to large quantities of opportunities at your doorstep.

And then we have our negative which is the difficulty that most will find when navigating the process without any preexisting knowledge and/or experience.

It’s imperative that you do your due diligence and research the different options available to you. As stated above, the process can be lengthy and tedious and as a business owner if you lack the time to thoroughly understand the procedures involved then it’s in your best interest to carefully consider this before forging ahead unaided.

5) Get Assistance from Experienced Government Contracting Professionals 

You can search government contracting and it’s many topics on the World Wide Web and find exhaustive lists of resources, subject matter, and opinions. It’s crucial that you make a realistic decision upfront as to whether or not you choose to seek outside assistance to support you throughout the process.

Select GCR is a consulting firm committed to helping small and medium-sized businesses achieve growth through government contracting. We identify the best path to success for each individual business and assist in the completion of all necessary registrations and certifications. Our strategic involvement simplifies the overall process and allows business owners to focus efforts on their principle business activities.

A good question to ask yourself is, “How much do I value my time?” As a business owner you wear many hats, sometimes ALL hats. You should carefully consider your time and resources before forging ahead alone. It can be extremely beneficial to partner with an experienced firm to assist you when embarking on your government contracting journey.