signing a government contract

A Quick Guide on How to Get a Government Contract

Ezra Cabrera | August 6, 2023


    The federal government represents a massive potential customer base for small businesses. Securing a government contract can significantly boost your revenue, especially considering that the government reserves a significant portion of contracts for small companies.

    But how do you navigate the process?

    In this guide, we will provide you with clear and concise steps to navigate the process successfully. From understanding eligibility requirements to researching federal contracting opportunities, we'll equip you with the knowledge to position your business for government contract success.

    Let's dive into it.

    What Is a Government Contract?

    Government contracts are agreements between small businesses and the federal government to provide goods or services. These contracts create a lucrative business opportunity for businesses to work with the government and secure steady revenue.

    Government contracting offers valuable advantages for small businesses, including:

    • Reliable Federal Business Opportunities: Federal contracts provide a consistent workload, ensuring a stable source of income.

    • Financial Stability: Contract payments are typically reliable and prompt, providing predictable cash flow for small businesses.

    • Enhanced Credibility: Working with the federal government enhances a business's reputation and builds trust with other clients.

    • Access to a Large Customer Base: The government is a substantial customer, providing access to a vast market for small businesses.

    By pursuing government contracts, small businesses can leverage these benefits to grow, expand their reach, and achieve long-term success.

    How to Prepare for Government Contracting

    Here’s how to prepare for government contracting opportunities:

    Research Contracting Opportunities

    Start by identifying the products and services the government commonly purchases. Conduct market research and competitive analysis for better insights. The U.S. Small Business Administration and the General Services Administration (GSA) offer resources to assist you in this process. The GSA also connects government buyers with prime contractors.

    Meet Basic Requirements

    Ensure you meet the basic requirements for government contracting by following specific steps. First, acquire a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number. Second, register in the System for Award Management (SAM). Lastly, obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Remember, these steps are just the beginning, with more requirements.

    Understand the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code

    The NAICS code is a classification system used by many federal agencies and statistical agencies to categorize businesses and collect relevant data. Check the NAICS code list at the U.S. Census Bureau to determine the appropriate code for your small business.

    Create a Contractor and Government Entity (CAGE) Code

    Obtain a unique Contractor and Government Entity (CAGE) code from the Defense Logistics Agency. Complete the System for Award Management (SAM) registration to receive the code. Remember, a CAGE code is not assigned to mailing addresses, so a physical address for your small business is necessary.

    Establish a Physical Address for Business Operations

    Provide a physical address for your small business operations when obtaining a DUNS number, registering in SAM, and acquiring a CAGE code. Avoid using P.O. Boxes or c/o addresses. Government agencies require a verifiable business location.

    Following these steps and meeting the requirements will prepare you to pursue and compete for government contracts.

    4 Marketing Strategies for Getting Government Contracts

    Effective marketing strategies play a crucial role in securing government contracts in standing out from the competition.

    Marketing to the government requires a unique approach tailored to the needs and requirements of government agencies.

    Here are four strategies you could try:

    Develop a Government-Specific Marketing Strategy

    Developing a targeted marketing strategy for government contracts is crucial for businesses. Digital marketing tactics can be highly effective in this context. Consider implementing the following strategies:

    • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your online presence to help government officials discover your brand.

    • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: Use targeted ads to convert qualified leads into valuable contacts.

    • Content Marketing: Establish your small business as a thought leader by creating relevant and informative content.

    • Website Design and Development: Create a professional and user-friendly website to enhance your online presence.

    Marketing to the government requires a different approach than traditional B2B or B2C marketing. Businesses should assess their value and research government agencies to understand their needs.

    Network and Building Relationships

    Networking and building relationships with government officials and agencies are vital. Attend industry conferences and participate in bid meetings to connect with key stakeholders and familiarize yourself with the bidding process.

    Utilize the Dynamic Small Business Search Platform

    The Dynamic Small Business Search platform is valuable for connecting with a government agency and prime contractors. Optimize your profile by including relevant keywords and certifications.

    Participate in Bid Meetings and Industry Conferences

    Engage in bid meetings and industry conferences to network and foster relationships with government officials and agencies. Prepare a capabilities statement highlighting your strengths and qualifications. Tailor your pitch to match the agencies attending the event.

    By implementing these strategies and actively engaging with government officials and agencies, your small business can enhance its chances of securing valuable government contracts.

    How To Get a Government Contract

    Obtaining government contracts requires careful planning and preparation. To increase your chances of success, following a series of essential steps is important.

    Identify Relevant Contract Opportunities

    To begin, businesses should conduct thorough research to identify government agencies and relevant federal contract opportunities. The System for Award Management (SAM) is a valuable resource that government agencies use to find contractors.

    Review and Understand the Request for Proposal (RFP)

    The RFP outlines the specific requirements for the contract and provides instructions for submitting a proposal. It is crucial for businesses to carefully review and understand the RFP to ensure compliance with the requirements.

    Prepare a Competitive Bid or Proposal

    To stand out from the competition, businesses must prepare a competitive bid or proposal that addresses the requirements outlined in the RFP. Emphasize your business's strengths and qualifications to demonstrate your capability to fulfill the contract.

    Submit the Bid/Proposal within the Specified Deadline

    Timely submission is crucial for consideration. Businesses must adhere to the specified deadline and ensure their bid or proposal is submitted before the closing date. Late submissions are generally not accepted.

    Follow up on the Bid/Proposal Submission

    After submitting your bid or proposal, it is advisable to follow up with the contracting officer to confirm receipt and address any questions or concerns you may have regarding the proposal process. This demonstrates your proactive approach and can help clarify any potential issues.

    By following these steps, you will be well-prepared to navigate the

    Evaluate the Decision to Become a Government Contractor

    Before venturing into government contracting, small and disadvantaged businesses must assess its advantages and disadvantages. This evaluation helps in making an informed decision. Consider the following points:

    Assess the Advantages

    • Steady Revenue Stream: Government contracts can provide a consistent and reliable revenue stream.

    • Long-Term Contracts: Federal contracts often span long durations, providing stability and predictability.

    • Increased Credibility: Winning a government contract enhances a business's credibility and reputation.

    • Access to New Markets: Federal government contracts open doors to new markets and customers.

    Consider the Disadvantages

    • Complex Regulations: Government contracting involves navigating through complex regulations.

    • Lengthy Procurement Process: Securing government contracts can be lengthy and time-consuming.

    • High Competition: Businesses face intense competition when vying for government contracts.

    • Limited Flexibility: Government contracts may impose limitations on pricing and delivery, reducing flexibility.

    Impact on Business Operations and Resources

    Businesses should evaluate how government contracting will impact their operations and resources. It may require investment in new equipment, hiring additional staff, or obtaining certifications. Compliance with regulations and reporting requirements is also essential.

    Assessing Risks and Rewards

    Evaluate the potential risks and rewards associated with government contracting. While it offers a steady revenue stream and increased credibility, risks include lengthy procurement processes and limited flexibility.

    Making an Informed Decision

    To make an informed decision, consider the advantages and disadvantages of government contracting, assess the impact on operations and resources, and evaluate the potential risks and rewards. Develop a government-specific marketing strategy and network with government officials and federal agencies to identify opportunities and improve your chances of winning contracts.

    By carefully weighing these factors, businesses can make informed decisions about pursuing government contracts and position themselves for success.

    The Bottom Line

    Exploring government contracting opportunities can be a significant milestone for small businesses.

    By understanding the steps involved and taking proactive measures, businesses can increase their chances of securing valuable government contracts. The process involves thorough research, meeting eligibility requirements, developing a targeted marketing strategy, and engaging with government officials and agencies.

    Government contracting offers unique advantages, including steady revenue streams, enhanced credibility, and access to new markets. Small businesses should embrace the potential and explore the world of government contracting to unlock growth opportunities and long-term success.

    Take the first step towards securing a government contract and open doors to a brighter future for your business.


    1. U.S. Chamber: "Bidding on Government Contract."

    2. MBO Partners: "How to Get Government Contracts."  

    3. General Services Administration (GSA): "Conduct Market Research."

    4. George Mason University School of Business: Center for Government Contracting.

    5. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 35 - Research and Development Contracting.

    6. Georgetown Law Library: Government Contracts Law Research Guide.

    7. System for Award Management (SAM).

    About the Author

    Ezra Neiel Cabrera has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurial Marketing. Over the last 3 years, she has been writing business-centric articles to help small business owners grow and expand. Ezra mainly writes for SMB Compass, but you can find some of her work in All Business, Small Biz Daily, LaunchHouse, Marketing2Business, and Clutch, among others. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in bed eating cookies and binge-watching Netflix.