Whatever criticism or praise you have about the federal bureaucracy, there’s one thing we can all agree on: It’s a huge money-spending machine, and savvy businesses, both large and small, find ways to get a chunk of their tax dollars back.
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We’re going to take a closer look at two arms of the federal government that can really make a huge difference in the bottom line of any business: the Government Services Administration (GSA) and Small Business Administration (SBA).
Simply put, the GSA handles purchasing for the government. The SBA promotes smaller businesses across the nation. Most of us have heard about its small business loan program. Its work also includes helping businesses land contracts from the GSA, so in some ways the GSA and SBA are intertwined.
Hooking Up with the GSA
To steal a line from the late, great astronomer Carl Sagan, the GSA has “billions and billions” of dollars to spend every year and there’s a good chance that some of that cash could make its way onto your balance sheet. However, as you might imagine, doing business with the federal government is not always the simplest process, at least for newbies.
One of the most important parts of doing business with the GSA is getting your business set up in its “System for Award Management,” aka SAM. This is where your business must be registered. There are piles of “government-ese” to wade through here, but fortunately they have a lot of good resources under the site’s Help menu. Be sure to check out the quick start guides and the videos.
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There are, by the way, companies that specialize in getting businesses set up to sell to the government and they will also assist in marketing efforts. Do an online search for the term “GSA consultants” if you don’t have the staff or time to be a “do-it-yourselfer.” The GSA offers a wide variety of webinars and videos and several are designed to help businesses new to selling to the government. You’ll also find great information and links on its How to Sell to the Government page. Some resources are tailored to help small businesses.
Getting What You Need From the SBA
The SBA has increasingly improved its website to make it more useful to business owners and managers. As you explore the various contracts offered through the GSA, you’ll notice that there are many set-asides for small businesses as well as businesses owned by minorities, disadvantaged, disabled veterans, etc. In fact, all contracts between $3,000 and $150,000 are reserved for small businesses.
The SBA offers a lot of information to help you determine your eligibility as a small business or one of the other types of business ownership that qualifies for GSA set-asides.
It certainly takes some effort to plug your business into the government purchasing cash cow. But like any endeavor, the longer you’re at it, the easier it gets, and there is no doubt that the financial rewards can be great.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com, which helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.