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Aspiring 8a

Success in the Federal Market: Certifications and Networking

SBA/VA Certifications

Obtaining SBA/VA Certifications/Verifications can give firms a significant advantage in the federal marketplace, as certified businesses often receive preferential treatment over non-certified ones. This advantage can open doors to contracting opportunities with fewer barriers to entry, while successful contract performance can lead to additional future contracts. Among the various certifications available, the 8(a) Certification is particularly powerful in the federal space.


Given the benefits, I strongly advise eligible firms to pursue the 8(a) Certification early in their government marketing journey. This strategic timing can streamline the marketing effort required by the firm and enhance its competitiveness in the federal contracting landscape. By proactively seeking this certification, businesses can position themselves for greater success and more opportunities for growth in the federal sector.


Understanding How Federal Buyers Procure My Firm’s Goods or Services

Understanding how federal buyers procure goods and services from businesses, particularly those with an 8(a) Certification, is crucial. The federal government employs various procurement methods, including sole-source contracts, set-aside contracts, GSA Schedules, GWACS like 8(a) STARS, and other IDIQ contracts. By familiarizing yourself with these different avenues and their respective requirements, your firm can strategically capitalize on the diverse opportunities in the federal marketplace.


Key Point

Many small businesses mistakenly believe that registering on Sam.gov and identifying as a minority-owned business is all they need to do to engage with the federal government. In reality, this is just the first step in becoming a registered vendor with the government.


Competition in the government marketplace is fierce, even for 8(a) firms. While the federal market is well-established, it sees thousands of new entrants each year. As a new player, successfully navigating this complex market and connecting with the right decision-makers to showcase your value proposition is crucial. Understanding the contracting vehicles preferred by these decision-makers is also vital in presenting a compelling and actionable business proposal in the federal arena.


Engage in Federal Networking

Networking and relationship-based selling are fundamental principles in private-sector sales. Many inexperienced 8(a) federal marketers mistakenly believe networking is not as important when dealing with the federal government. While federal buyers are indeed constrained by the Federal Acquisitions Regulations (FAR), government contractors have cultivated strong relationships within the government.


These contacts often lead to sole-source contracting opportunities for 8(a) firms with a successful track record. In my experience, federal networking is crucial for success. I advise my 8(a) clients to focus on 1-3 federal agencies, and I often see my most successful clients narrow this down to a single agency to concentrate their efforts. By knowing and understanding all the key players at that agency, they can uncover numerous contracting opportunities, far more than with a scattered approach.

Navigating federal government contracting as an 8(a) certified firm can be challenging, but proper guidance can achieve success. I always recommend contacting an industry expert such as ez8a or Advance 8a that specializes in helping 8(a) firms succeed in the federal marketplace. If you have interest in exploring your firm’s eligibility and/or business development potential utilizing the 8a Certification, contact them today for expert advice, support, and personalized strategies to help your business thrive in government contracting. Neither charge for an initial consultation.


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