Last week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the federal government exceeded the goal for contracts awarded to small businesses. “I’m happy to report that for the first time in history the federal government has awarded more than $120 billion in federal contracts,” said Acting Administrator Chris Pilkerton. Small businesses strengthen the economy and the U.S. workforce, and Pilkerton estimates that these contracts created one million jobs. “Every contract that gets in the hands of a small business is a win-win for our nation, the entrepreneurs, their employees, and the communities they support all across the country,” he adds.
The government set a 23% overall goal for contracts to small businesses, and exceeded that goal by 2%. They also exceeded the specific goal for Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, which they set at 3% of contracts and came it at almost 4.3%.
However, the federal government did not meet every goal they set out. The goals for Women Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) and HUBZone fell short by .25% and 1%, respectively. Although this doesn’t seem like a lot, it amounts to millions of dollars in contracts. The SBA wants to meet all the goals they set, and increase procurement for the sectors that fell short. The SBA said it “works with federal agency procurement staff to provide analysis and tools to facilitate review of data, implement improvements to procurement systems and conduct training to improve accuracy.”
As a government contractor falling into many of these socio-economic designations, we’ve learned the importance of leveraging these designations to win government contracts. Applied Development has learned the specifics of certification, the government procurement life cycle, communication with federal agencies, and how to succeed in the mentor-protege program.
Here are four reasons why contracting education and understanding the government contracting process matters for female business owners.
Women-Owned Small Businesses have an advantage.
Due to the Small Business Act, federal contracting must set aside contracting requirements for WOSBs and/or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. “Federal agencies are supposed to award at least 5% of all prime contract dollars awarded each year to women-owned small businesses,” according to the Small Business Administration. This means that women-owned businesses must receive a piece of the government contracting pie, but they both have to be designated as a WOSB and understand how contracting and procurement work.
Understanding program rules is key.
The WOSB designation doesn’t come without a complex set of rules and limitations. This is especially true for the WOSB program, which has limitations on industry and dollar amounts. Every business owner going after government contracts needs to understand the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and associated clauses specific to each contract.
Contracting is complex.
To be truly competitive in government contracting, you need to understand government contracting. That comes with education and time. For example, set-asides in the WOSB program are only for industries in which women-owned businesses are underrepresented. Specific North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes designate those industries, and you have to know the NAICS codes your services fall into. Contracting education includes learning these complexities.
Learning from others can help you avoid mistakes.
Working with other small business owners can help you figure out where your businesses advantage lies. When Applied Development first applied for small business certification through the SBA, one of our mentors, Marcus Board of Premier Management Corporation, advised us that we were not ready for the program yet. “It was some of the best advice a mentor has given us to date,” says our CEO Kimberly Citizen. “We would have wasted two years in the program if we had continued down that path.” Contracting education can include making new connections and expanding your network, which helps other woman owned businesses learn about pitfalls before they succumb to them.
Applied Development is proud to be an Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB), a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), a U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) certified business and a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small business.