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Get the New Year Started Off Right by Learning How to Market to the Government





There are always milestones throughout the year where we check in with our small business’ finances. This is usually tax time and the beginning of fall (new school year!), but the most natural place to do some checking in is at the end of the year. Not only does the beginning of a new year signal a fresh slate personally, but it can also feel like a new start for your business.

This past year has been a whirlwind for M/WBEs who are looking to get government contracts. The City of New York purchases almost anything you can think of — ranging from food, office supplies, equipment, consulting, creative services, and more. You name it, there is a good chance New York City is buying it. And they need someone to buy it from. In fact, in the fiscal year of 2018, New York City purchased nearly $900 billion in goods, services, and supplies.

Opportunities to do business with New York City range from micro/small purchases that range from $1 to $150,000, to large-scale multi-million-dollar projects. Mayor Bill de Blasio set goals for minority and women-owned firms that aimed to award $20 Billion to M/WBEs by 2025 and ensure M/WBE firms receive at least 30% of all contracts awarded by 2021.

While this sounds like a windfall for M/WBEs, published reports reflect that breaking into the government arena can cost upwards of $80,000 and take anywhere from three to five years before getting a contract. Many small businesses find the process of identifying opportunities with the government to be daunting. Despite this challenge, I often advise my clients to consider doing business with government agencies because of the tremendous opportunity government contracts offer. Government contracts are often awarded for one year with multiple option periods, enabling business owners to scale as they acquire the resources necessary to complete the contract. As the business scales, it has a direct impact on economic growth and the ability to build personal wealth.

The key to success with doing business with the government is having a plan. When deciding whether to do business with the government, business owners need to conduct a market assessment to determine if their products/services are in alignment with government purchasing standards and requirements. The business must also consider if they can obtain the internal infrastructure to support contract requirements, including things like administrative functions, customer service, and sales activities.

Business owners also need to consider the marketing aspect of doing business with government agencies. Interestingly, many small business owners don’t market themselves to the government. They wrongly assume they can’t market to government buyers due to procurement regulations. While there are certainly circumstances where talking to procurement officers is not allowed, marketing and positioning your business is essential. While the government procurement process tends to be geared towards bids, proposals, Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Requests for Quotes (RFQs), there are also a lot of opportunities that result from subcontracting, word of mouth, strategic positioning, and discretionary purchases. All of these angles require business owners to effectively market their businesses to the right target audience.

Sounds challenging? Don’t worry! The New York City Department of Small Business Services has a suite of programs designed to help small, minority, and women-owned firms break into the government space by providing guidance and training on the process. The programs are free of charge and offered throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

If you want to start the New Year off with a bang and get some government contracts throughout 2019, The New York City Department of Small Business Services is the place to be! This December 12, 2018, we will be offering a free workshop on Marketing to the Government that will provide an overview of the government procurement process, as well as strategies for marketing your M/WBE. A word of warning though, these workshops have proven to be extremely popular and fill up quickly. If you want to be sure that you will get a spot, I highly suggest that you sign up immediately!




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