Enterprising Women Vol 10, No 2, 2009

BY JUDY BRADT T he federal government spent nearly $500 billion last year, and that was before the economic stimulus pack- age. If you haven’t already asked yourself this question, it’s time to consider whether your next client could be a government buyer. In less than two hours, you can identify government purchasing trends, buyers and competitors, and do so absolutely free. Before you spend thousands of dollars and months of time marketing, you want to find business you can win. Take these first steps to save time and get started in the right direction. 1 FEDERAL BUYING FORECASTS (30 Minutes) Did you know? Every federal department publishes online buying forecasts, and revises them all year long. Why is this helpful? If you look up the forecasts, you can focus your efforts on agencies that have money in the budget to buy what you’ve got. You can also pick out procurements set aside for your kind of company. Where to go: http://acquisition.gov/comp/ procurement_forecasts/index.html How to start: You’ll see four drop-down menus. Open the bottomone, FORECASTS, and choose the department you want to research. What to look for: A forecast typically cov- ers planned purchases worth more than $25,000, and includes • What are the products and services the agency plans to buy: description, NAICS code, and product/service code (a sys- tem the government uses to classify procurement) • How much they plan to spend on each purchase • Who will do the buying — names, phone and email • When they plan to buy • How they will seek vendors • What kind of small business preference they plan What’s next: Highlight the requirements you could meet—if the competition hasn’t begun—and set up a meeting with the point of contact to find out more about the opportunity and present your capabilities. 2 GSA SCHEDULE CONTRACT COMPETITIVE RESEARCH (30 Minutes) Did you know? Government buyers use the US General Services Administration (GSA)’s Schedule Contracts to buy com- mercial, off-the-shelf, products or services from thousands of vendors. Government buyers often prefer ven- dors with GSA Schedules because the buying process is faster. Learn more about GSA Schedule Contracts at www.gsa.gov . Why is this helpful? If your competitors already have GSA Schedule Contracts, you can see what they’re selling, look at their pricing, and decide whether or not you want to compete with them on this type of contract. Can you beat them on price? If not, why would buyers be eager to pay a premium just to buy from you? Where to go: www.gsa.gov . How to start: 1. From the left menu, choose GSA Advantage. Then from the top tabs, click “Schedules e-Library.” Choose the category of products or services that you offer. You will get a list of related Schedule Contracts and a description of what each covers. 2. Explore! Click any Schedule ID number want GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS? 24 enterprising Women Four Easy Lessons in Free Market Research to Get You Started on the Road to Doing Business with the Government ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★