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SBDC Offers Advice for Companies Looking to Win Government Contracts

1846 Small Business Owners Assisted

By Yolanda Cowart, Florida SBDC at Pinellas County

TAMPA (Jan. 13, 2017) The Florida Small Business Development Center at University of South Florida helped business owners reap some $65.5 million in government contracts in 2015, the most recent state statistics available.

Advice is just one of the primary services its consultants throughout the 10-county region offer to small business owners who are intent on growing their businesses with government work.

And the Tampa Bay region is ripe for such contracts.

According to, Hillsborough County ranked fifth in Florida in 2016, with $3.96 million in contracts awarded to businesses.

Florida SBDC, located at Port Tampa Bay off Channelside Drive, has government contracting specialists who can connect business owners to invaluable programs and tools to help strengthen market position in the government space.  These services include consulting sessions with industry experts, bid match resources that connect you to opportunities and specialized reports that provide unique business intelligence and insight into the government procurement maze. Most services are provided at no- or low-cost to area business leaders.

Government contracting has developed into a very competitive marketplace, thanks to its profit potential. While many contracts are awarded to large corporations, companies of all sizes, from small, micro-firms with one employee to large, mega-firms with thousands of employees have been successful in selling products and services to government agencies at every level.

Firms considering offering products and services to the government, must target the right agencies. Conducting preliminary market research and implementing strategies specifically designed for the private sector can often make a difference, helping distinguish a company from its competition.

Marketing to the government is different from marketing to the commercial industry. Here are four steps that can prepare businesses to compete for government contracts and add value in the private sector marketplace. The key word: research.

  • Research the market. There are several options available to businesses interested in public sector work. Smaller companies may want to start at the local and state levels, while mid-to-medium size companies can target federal agencies for opportunities. It is important to target the right agencies at the right levels of government in order to secure a contract that is the right size for your company.

  • Research business certification programs. Most government organizations recognize business enterprise certification programs. After identifying and targeting the right government market, learn about its supplier diversity initiatives and the types of certifications that they recognize. Certifications are a great marketing tool for government suppliers. Each agency will differ so you will want to focus on the programs that will be the most advantageous for your market.

  • Research procurement system codes. Research the appropriate commodity codes for the market prior to seeking vendor registration. Most local governments at the municipal level will use the National Institute of Government Purchasing (NIGP) Commodity Codes, the federal government uses the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). However, some agencies such as the state of Florida have their own procurement coding systems and commodity codes. Using the right is important to receiving qualified bids. It will reduce workload and make any bid activity more manageable.

  • Research the competition. Before applying for government work it is important to learn about the competition. Finding out who is currently doing government contracts can teach applicants a lot about how to prepare for the contract before it expires. It will also provide great information to be used when creating a value proposition statement and developing differentiators that will help a company stand out from the pack.

More information about the Florida SBDC at USF's government contracting services can be found here: