Wyoming Business Tips for Jan. 15

January 9, 2012

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Amy Lea, Wyoming Procurement Technical Assistance Center

"I am trying to learn more about government contracting opportunities for my business this year and am planning to attend the GRO-Biz Conference and Idea Expo in Laramie next month. Someone suggested that I bring a capabilities statement for my business. What is that?" Catherine, Cheyenne

A capabilities statement is a concise summary of what your business offers to meet the needs of a specific government agency, customer, or opportunity.  Think of it as an expanded business card.

It conveys that you understand the language and processes of government contracting. You can provide a general capabilities statement to any of your potential federal customers when you are getting started in government contracting, but a more experienced contractor will prepare a specific capabilities statement for each agency or opportunity. The most important thing is to keep it brief (one page), and easy to scan visually.

A capabilities statement should reinforce the company's branding -- make sure to include company logo and use the same fonts and colors as your website and other marketing materials. It's also a good idea to clearly indicate that the document is a capabilities statement by putting the words "Capabilities Statement for Business XYZ" at the top.

Just as a resume or business card might be formatted slightly differently from business to business, you can determine how best to organize the information in a capabilities statement, but will typically include the following information:

-- Core competencies and differentiators are the things your company does best.  Differentiators (also called your "unique selling proposition" or "competitive advantage") indicate what is special about your firm that distinguishes you from your competitors.

-- Corporate data (also called "company data" or "business information"). Provide a sentence or two describing the company's history, the size of your firm and the geographic area you serve.

-- Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number; North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and Product Service Codes (PSC) or Federal Supply Codes (FSC); Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code (this signals that your firm is registered in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), because a CAGE code is assigned during CCR registration.

-- Any certifications/self-certifications relevant to government contracting (Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB/EDWOSB) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB).

-- Bonding capacity (construction firms); whether or not you accept credit and purchase cards; contract number for your General Services Administration (GSA) schedule, Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA), or other relevant federal contract (if any); and past performance (also called "clients." Provide three or four agencies or customers you have done business with, starting with those as similar to your target agency as possible. If you haven't done other federal work, provide state or local government or commercial references.

 -- Contact information: If you use company letterhead with your firm's name, logo, and general contact information as a starting point for your capabilities statement, you may not need a separate section with this information. If you don't have company letterhead, make sure to include a section with this information.

Either way, make sure that somewhere on your capabilities statement you very clearly identify the person who handles government business for your company, and provide their direct email address and phone number.

If you take the time to create a capabilities statement now, when you have a conversation with a federal agency representative at next moth's GRO-Biz Conference and Idea Expo, you will be ready to provide it to them. This will help them remember your business the next time they are looking for the supplies, services or construction that you offer.

For free and confidential one-on-one assistance with developing a capabilities statement or other aspects of government contracting, contact the Wyoming PTAC team: Jeff Sneddon, Casper, jsneddon@uwyo.edu, (307) 234-3203; Natasha Stahla, Cheyenne, nstahla1@uwyo.edu, (307) 637-5029; or Amy Lea, Thermopolis, alea@uwyo.edu, (307) 921-8499.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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