Everybody’s Business: Planning key to marketing to government

By Sandra Taylor-Sawyer: Business columnist

One of the things business owners should always keep an eye on is new markets. A market that may be overlooked is the federal, state and local governments. These government entities have a need for products and services that small businesses provide.

However, one cannot expect to sell products and services to the federal government the same day in which the decision was made without planning. There are several steps to follow before marketing to the government.

The federal government has two methods of buying products and services. One method is using a Government Purchase Card (GPC), which is basically a credit card. If a business is already set up to accept credit cards, they can accept the GPC. Amounts up to $3,000 can be purchased with the GPC. Purchases over $3,000 must have a pre-price contract.

Before a business bids on a federal contract, it must register with Dunn and Bradstreet to obtain a DUNS number. D&B is a company that maintains a database consisting of global commercial entities. Many times a business will find that it already has a listing with D&B, www.dnb.com.

The next step is to register with the Central Contract Register (CCR), www.ccr.gov, a federal government database.

Step three is registering the business with the Dynamic Small Business at the Small Business Administration (SBA), a self-certifying database that many private and public vendors may use to find potential clients. The final online registration is with Federal Business Opportunities, www.fedbizopps.gov, a database listing federal contracts over $25,000.

It is important to gather all pertinent information and numbers that will be needed before beginning the registration process. Proper planning will save hours, possibly days, of frustration and waitingto become a certified government vendor.

With the expansion at Cannon Air Force Base, it is imperative that businesses begin the process to become a federal vendor now instead of later.

Sandra Taylor-Swayer is director of the Small Business Development Center at Clovis Community College. Call the center at 769-4136 or visit www.nmsbdc.org/clovis