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How to Win Federal Government Contracts as a Small Business

How to Win Federal Government Contracts as a Small Business


Frequently I am asked “What is the secret in winning federal contracts.” It’s quite simple, you must know “How the game is played”. Powell Industries, Inc. has introduced a series of inexpensive training workshops where contractors like yourself can hear the truth about federal contracting: the good, the bad and the ugly.

Before we get into proposal writing mistakes and tips, I want to share some staggering statistics with you. According to well-known entrepreneur Chet Holmes: “…95% of companies will never reach even $1 million in annual sales. If you’ve done that, you are in the top 5% of entrepreneurs and you are rare and to be congratulated. For those of you who get that far, the remaining 95% won’t ever make it to $5 million. And of those who get that far, 98% won’t get to $10 million. Very, very few go from there to $100 million and beyond. What makes the difference between thriving and barely surviving in any business, in any economic climate? It’s not the product or service; the key element is the skills developed and applied by the company leadership.

Not only is the government mandated to crack down on government contractors, but the number of new contractors to federal procurement. This brings to question the issue of more fierce competition in government proposal writing. The first step in acquiring federal contracts is to know how to bid for them. There are alarming numbers of both small and large businesses that simply submit bids to the federal government in the same fashion that they do in the commercial sector. This is but the biggest mistake yet in seeking government contracts. Government proposal writing is subject to many regulations and limited authority of source selection authorities. You have to know the audience and what authority they have. Only then can you adjust your proposal writing skills. Contractors miss out on potential federal projects by doing business the old way:

  • Cutting and pasting old proposal submissions
  • Hiring proposal staff that simply don’t understand the rules and regulations to which they write
  • Hiring proposal writers that are good technical writers but know nothing about source selection
    or see the actual mistakes from their work in a bid protest

How is the game played? Winning federal projects is not an easy task. Successful contractors simply have given up rolling the dice and are now bringing in proposal experts. After all, contractors are pursuing contracts that are worth billions. If it were that simple to get government contracts, then everyone would be doing it. The proposal game is not an easy one. However, you can master it.

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