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Commercial Experience is Essential before Delving into the Government Marketplace

by Mary Love - July 27, 2018

A successful business doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s usually a good idea to develop your clientele and strategies commercially before embarking into the government marketplace.  When starting to sell in the government marketplace, it’s wise to ease into it with smaller contracts and/or subcontracts so that you can learn the proper procedures, players and language (acronyms) involved with minimal downside to the government or your business reputation.

Government agencies, federal, state or local, can usually afford to be picky when awarding a contract.  In fact, doing otherwise might risk taxpayer dollars.  Especially when contracting for services and construction, they want to know that the awardee has the capacity and experience to complete the job on time and at a fair price.  They will often pay more for a project when the company has demonstrated experience on previous jobs, whether commercial or government, that are similar in size and scope. 

I often meet with companies who think that they can get a government contract even though they haven’t yet established a business.  To be very honest, that probably won’t work unless you are looking at very small opportunities.  For instance, if you want to be a park service gate keeper, not a lot of previous experience is required.  

There are companies that are unique enough to hit the ground running on complex government requirements, but for most contracts, the government can afford to be very selective because there is usually ample competition.   The government will ask you to provide information concerning your experience when they are obtaining services and in regard to construction contracts.   

Although you may not get quizzed on past performance when providing commercial products, you will usually find that familiarity with sources and shipping as well as lead times is very beneficial.  Knowing what to expect from your suppliers, or even your employees, can be the difference between making a profit and suffering a loss when your contract is terminated for default.

The Arkansas Procurement Assistance Center is all about helping you get government contracts so this article is not intended to squelch your ambition in that regard.  We encourage you to develop your commercial business acumen, so you are ready to bid with savvy on government contracts when the opportunities present themselves.  

If you would like to know more about government contracting, call the Arkansas Procurement Assistance Center at 501-671-2390.

Mary Love