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September 3, 2013 — 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 Andi Lewis, Wyoming Entrepreneur Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) procurement specialist
“I am starting a business. I’ve been told that the government buys the services I offer. When should I approach the government market? Is it good business strategy to approach the government market now?” George, Lander
A small business owner needs to consider the investment of time and resources when considering any new market.
Certain steps need to be taken to avoid wasting time and money and to be sure that your company is ready to do business with the government.
Marketing to federal, state or local government often is quite different than the commercial marketplace. As a new player in the market, convince buyers or that you’re capable, reliable and able to deliver what is being promised -- that is, they need to trust you.
Past performance is a key concept in government procurement -- and, as a new company trying to break into the market, there is no shortcut. To avoid disappointment, prepare for a long-term marketing effort. As one of my co-workers likes to say,” it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
To prepare, ask yourself these questions:
-- Is your business established? Does it have a history of sales? Does it have an experienced sales team? If you’re a new business owner, consider contacting the WSBDC (Wyoming Small Business Development Center) to receive business counseling. Government buyers have a low-risk tolerance, and will usually not take a chance on a new company.
-- Does your business plan include the government market as a growth strategy? When considering a move into any large, new market, the company’s business plan needs to support the initiative. This means that a company needs to have the resources -- managerial, administrative, financial, etc. -- to commit to a marketing effort that may not produce revenue for several years.
-- Can your company’s cash flow be managed to allow for government payment cycles? If the company is unable to make payroll or has cash flow issues, this is not the time to approach the government or any other specialized market.
-- Does your company use the Internet daily, communicate through email and have a website that aids in marketing goods or services offered? Contracts are advertised, goods are purchased, invoices are paid, and the bulk of communication is accomplished electronically.
-- Have you done the necessary market research to determine the government’s demand for your product or service? The government or its prime contractors simply will not buy some goods and services.
Before getting started, contact the Wyoming Entrepreneur PTAC office at (866) 253-3300 to make sure you registered in the right places.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.