Engaging Your Local Small Business Office and Other Resources

According to the US Army Office of Small Business Programs, the Army spent $17.4 billion with small businesses in FY13. With the very competitive federal market space it is even more important small businesses use every available resource.

President Obama made this compelling statement, “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our communities. They create two of every three new jobs in America, spur economic growth, and spark new industries across the country. We will continue to create new incentives to help small business owners hire new workers, promote growth and do what America does best – invest in the creativity and imagination of our people,” (2011).

Small businesses interested in pursuing federal contracts have many options available when researching the federal marketplace for available opportunities, and understanding the competition. To prepare your business for federal contracting opportunities, it is important for you to understand these resources. Whether you are a Small Business, Small Disadvantaged Business, Woman-Owned Small Business, Historically Black Colleges and Universities Minority Institutions (HBCU/MIs), Service Disabled/Veteran-Owned Small Business or HUBZone Small Business, your nearest Army Contracting Command’s Small Business Office is available to provide you counsel, advice, and insight to upcoming opportunities.

It has been our experience many small businesses have never visited this office or engaged in discussion with the local small business advocate. These professionals are more than willing to help guide you through the Army contracting process.

At Aberdeen Proving Grounds, I make it a point to regularly visit the Small Business Office. There is a Small Business Advocate for each of the major commands at Aberdeen who are very willing to entertain office visits by interested small businesses. One of their major goals is to promote open dialogue with private industry and offer information on procurement opportunities and guidance on procurement procedures. I have introduced many of our partners to these advocates and they walk away much better informed in the market space. When visiting, be prepared to provide a brief written summary of your products/services. These visits have proven to be more productive than any client call our partners have conducted. You can find out more by visiting the Army Contracting Command.

Another important resource is The Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) serve as a U.S. Army resource for small businesses pursuing and performing under government contracts, including contracts with the Department of Defense, other federal agencies, state and local governments, and with government prime contractors. Your local Army Small Business Office can also provide more information.

In addition, the SBA offers assistance through their Small Business Development Centers, Service Corps of Retired Executives, and regional SBA offices which can provide information on loan programs, government procurements, and the Section 8(a) program.

Don’t forget to check out the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership, as well as the Online Women’s Business Center. These are special resources developed specifically to meet the needs of WOSB concerns.

As a reminder, to do business with the Army you must be listed in the Central Contractor Registration database. This registration must be completed prior to award of any contract or agreement. This registration can be accomplished on-line at www.ccr.gov. Any time there is a change in status, it is necessary for the company to update their CCR information. For example, if a company attains 8(a) status.

As a small business, it is critical not to neglect a very large secondary market, Subcontracting Opportunities with DoD Prime Contractors. This link lists all of the major DoD prime contractors by state and provides a point of contact (Small Business Liaison Officer) within each firm. These firms negotiate goals with the contracting activities for subcontracting to small business concerns. This is a multi-billion dollar market. We encourage you to investigate potential opportunities with the large DoD prime contractors. At Aberdeen, the Small Business Advocates will willingly provide a list of potential primes looking for small business partners for particular opportunities.

Many available requirements may be beyond the scope of a single small business. We encourage our prime partners to subcontract and team with small business concerns. Also the Small Business Administration’s Sub-Net is another resource to reach for subcontracting opportunities.

There a myriad of other resources available to small businesses but my take-away is to get out and make an office call with the closest Army Small Business Advocate. We are amazed at the number of folks attempting to gain work share in this competitive market that do not take advantage of these resources.

Let us know how we can help you succeed in this or any other business effort!

-Dave Mock