Security Systems News

JUN 2013

Security Systems News is a monthly business newspaper that reaches 25,100 security installers, product distributors, central stations, engineers & architects, and security consultants. Our editorial coverage focuses on breaking news in all major se

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Q2 TIPS for Success in the Federal Market Selling to the government is not for everyone. There are, however, some tried and true basics that can help you decide if it is right for you. By: Kristina Tanasichuk Pull Up a Chair and Make Yourself Comfortable In most cases, it takes a laser focus, signifcant marketing and an 18-24 month commitment to make traction and build the partnerships necessary for success in the federal market. Although government opportunities are posted on, companies savvy about the workings of the federal market know that by the time these opportunities are posted, a great deal of marketing, relationship-building and resource expenditure has already taken place. A company turning to the government for a quick contract to boost revenue may be very disappointed. The good news is that, if you stay the course, the rewards are well worth it. Where do I start? First, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has a series of free online courses to help you understand the basics of contracting at Nearly all federal agencies have an Offce of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and a procurement division. Getting to know these folks will help you navigate the agency and fnd the right people. A list of the federal OSDBUs and their roles is available at www. Ensuring that your internal capacity is adequate to execute and operate in the federal market is also critical. Contracting requires adherence to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which includes specifc accounting and billing procedures from the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), as well as other agencyspecifc requirements, such as security clearances and facilities standards. Thorough research on what you must build internally is as critical to your success as your efforts externally. Small Business Set-Asides and Other Programs There are numerous programs designed to help small companies get started in the federal market: HUB Zone, 8(a), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVO) are a few examples. Learn more about the requirements of each at . The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program helps companies develop products through research grants. Finally, a number of agencies have mentor-protégé programs that pair large, experienced contractors with small companies in the pursuit of federal opportunities. Why You? The government market is extremely competitive – even more so with sequestration and budget cuts. Being able to articulate clearly your company's core competencies and market differen- tiators is critical to making your case to potential federal clients and industry partners. Develop a capability statement that is succinct and demonstrates what you do and why your company is different from your competitors. This is your "elevator pitch" on paper. Understand Your Customers and the Way They Buy Government customers are pulled in numerous directions. Their priorities and purchases are infuenced by budgets controlled by Congress, political considerations, the FAR, and other programs that may have nothing to do with whether the customer wants to buy or not. Understanding their environment, challenges and needs is critical to your success. Where's the Money? Now that you know your customer, where does their money come from, and is it coming at all? You can have the best idea, technology or product, but if the solution is not funded, or is not a priority, it will be diffcult to get traction. Following the congressional budget process and determining whether certain programs or priorities are funded is critical. No money, no sale. Plan Strategically Will you be the prime contractor or act as a subcontractor to a larger frm? Are you interested in further development of a product or technology? Is there the possibility of a sole source contract? (Are your competencies so unique that you are the only provider?) Weathering the federal market by yourself is tough; partners can help you create a comprehensive solution. Determine how your core competencies can contribute to a solution and whether your position is strongest alone or with a partner. Network. Network. Network. Good grief! Where do you start to know agency priorities, congressional budgets, potential partners and all the regulations to which you must adhere? Maximize your reach by working with organizations that help you understand the market and build your contacts. Numerous non-proft organizations exist to help navigate the complex federal arena, and they provide the best way to get up to speed quickly. n Kristina Tanasichuk (@GTSCoalition) is the founder and CEO of the Government Technology & Services Coalition, a non-proft organization founded by small and mid-sized CEOs to provide exceptional advocacy, capacity building, partnership opportunities and marketing in the federal homeland security and national security market. Visit us at Q2 2013 3

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