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Aspiring 8a

The Three Key Elements of a Successful 8(a) Contractor

Success in the 8(a) BD Program can transform your small business. This is because the average 8(a) firm utilizing normal federal marketing methods can earn millions of dollars in federal sales. Over the years I have helped many firms obtain their 8(a) Certification, as well as assisted with obtaining post-award contracts. I would like to think that this assistance helped land six of my clients on the Washington Technology’s Fast 50 for 2019, and one client earning recognition as 2018’s “8(a) Firm of the Year” by the SBA.


I have come to the conclusion that there are three elements that determine the success level for an 8(a) contractor:

1. Industry – Does the federal government buy what your firm makes or sells?

2. Location – Does the federal government purchase the goods your firm sells in relatively close proximity to where your business is located?

3. Marketing – How well engaged is your 8(a) firm at obtaining Federal Contracts?



In terms of effective 8(a) Industries, the normal staples are:

1. Information Technology;

2. Construction;

3. Management Consulting and

4. Engineering

With that being said, some of the best performing 8(a) certified firms are in niche industries. As I think back to a few years ago, one of the best performing 8(a) firms I was working with was a medical staffing company that obtained a large contract staffing dentists to the military.



IT Consulting - It can be a major benefit for some firms to be located within the DC beltway. I have had many IT clients that, after obtaining a few contracts in their home states, established branch offices in DC in order to aid in their business development efforts.

Construction - These firms do best when located near DoD facilities, as 80% of all federal construction dollars are spent by the DoD. Many other 8(a) firms will travel, depending upon the good or service they provide.



This is the most important element, because firms that are strong in business development will overcome the other two elements in order to take advantage of an opportunity. Therefore, the first two Elements have more importance when a firm does not have a strong business development capability.


Business Development Services - Marketing is so important that, for new clients, 8(a) consulting firms that couple marketing services with 8(a) services are especially helpful. This ensures that new 8(a) firms know who, in their geographic location, buys their product or service.


Bid Monitoring - Additionally for some firms, outfits that monitor federal and state websites for upcoming contracting opportunities are great to utilize. For some 8(a) firms, a spot on a single GWAC or IDIQ contract that only comes open every three years can make or break their 8(a) experience.


Subcontracting Opportunities - For firms looking for sales outside of the 8(a) BD Program, targeting large federal prime contractors can be a great way to utilize their 8(a) Certification indirectly to boost sales.


If you are wondering how the SBA’s 8(a) Certification could be an advantage to help expand your future business development potential through federal contracting, I always recommend contacting an industry expert such as ez8a or Advance 8a. Both have the expertise in evaluating your firm's potential, and neither charge for an initial consultation.


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