July 18, 2012 by cs
Federal, state and local government agencies frequently host trade shows or expos to publicize their contract opportunities and attract new vendors. Wonder whether you should attend a government-sponsored business expo? What should you expect if you go? How should you prepare? Are you disappointed in the last trade show you attended?
These are the kinds of questions often posed by businesses we’re helping as a part of the Dougherty Small Business Program. Fundamentally, businesses want to know how they can gain a competitive advantage by attending an event sponsored by a government agency. The answer lies as much in preparation and follow-up as it does in actual attendance.
These kinds of events are what you make them. If you go to just listen, you may come away disappointed. If, on the other hand, you go to make something happen, you can come away with some good contacts,valuable insights, and solid business leads.
Here are a few tips …
- Establish some objectives for yourself – what do you hope to accomplish by attending? State this in concrete, quantifiable terms.
- Think about the specific kinds of opportunities you want to go after and be prepared to explain how you represent the solution to the government’s contracting objectives.
- Identify who is going to be in attendance and research in advance as much as you can about who will be there and those persons you want to meet. Think about why they are going to the show and what they want to accomplish there – align yourself with their objectives.
- Familiarize yourself with all details of the show so that you can envision how you are going to use the structure of the show to accomplish your objectives.
- Be prepared with marketing materials, including business cards, brochures and/or product/service fact sheets, product samples/portfolio, and a detailed capabilities statement. (Don’t have a capabilities statement? See our article on this subject here.) Tailor at least one of your handouts to the expo or show itself.
- Be prepared to talk about pricing. You may not need to, but be prepared just in case someone asks.
- Begin to envision how your competitors at the show can be potential partners as a result of the show.
- Develop and be prepared to deliver a 30-second “elevator speech” which explains in layman’s terms exactly what you are an expert at doing. Don’t be shy to explain what’s special about your company and why your products/services are the best. (If you need help constructing an elevator speech, see our article at http://www.doughertysmallbiz.org/2011/04/whats-an-elevator-pitch-and-why-you-need-one.)
- Remember that buyers don’t have time to waste. Buyers want specific information, and buyers want to know what’s special about you (that’s your competitive advantage).
- Preparation is essential. It’s better not to go than to go unprepared – you never have a second chance to make a good first impression.
- Dress to impress. And wear comfortable shoes!
- At the show, listen to how your competitors are selling themselves and learn as much about their marketing as possible. Also learn from their mistakes.
- Understand that follow-up after the show is critical. Gather all the business cards you collected, write follow-up notes or emails – promptly. Set-up follow-up meetings/conference calls, if possible and appropriate. Send more marketing materials.
- Write yourself a report on lessons-learned. Review this report before planning to participate in another event.
We will be glad to elaborate on this topic and provide you with additional advice. You can find our contact information by clicking right here.
April 19, 2012 by cs
If you want to find out how your business can apply for federal HUBZone certification status, then Macon State University is the place you need to be on Tuesday, May 1, 2012.
The Small Business Administration’s HUBZone Program promotes economic development and employment growth in distressed areas of the country by providing preferential access to federal contracting opportunities. These preferences go to small businesses that maintain a principal office in one of these specially designated areas, employ staff who live in a HUBZone, and apply for and obtain HUBZone certification.
In order to qualify for the HUBZone program, your business must be located in an area designated as a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Zone. You may determine if an address or a particular area is designated as a HUBZone by visiting http://map.sba.gov/hubzone/maps and typing-in the address of your principal place of business. If the resulting map indicates that your business is located in a HUBZone, you may be eligible to receive a preference in the award of federal contracts, but you must first become HUBZone certified.
In addition to being located in a HUBZone, there are additional requirements you must meet in order to be certified. Certification is a complex process, but the process could well be worth your time because of the resulting federal contracting preferences.
In order to guide you through this process, the Georgia District Office of the SBA is hosting an all-day workshop on May 1st that is designed to help you understand the details of HUBZone eligibility, the step-by-step application process, and much more.
In addition, the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) will be conducting a session at this event to help you understand the fundamentals of government contracting, including how to identify and take advantage of HUBZone set-aside contracting opportunities.
Advance registration is required to attend. You can register by clicking on this link: http://events.sba.gov/eventmanagement/EventRegistration.aspx?id=e0148925-cc87-e111-b0b2-02bfa56e2a24.
The SBA’s HUBZone Boot Camp will be held from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at Macon State University, 100 College Station Drive, Macon, GA 31206. A map and directions are located at http://www.maconstate.edu/maps.
More details on the SBA’s HUBZone Program and the certification application process may be found at https://eweb1sp.sba.gov/hubzone/internet/general/application-guide.cfm#Welcome.
A flyer describing the May 1 event can be downloaded by clicking here.
Here’s what the schedule for the day looks like:
HUBZone Boot Camp Agenda – May 1, 2012
9:00 – 9:15 Welcome and Opening Remarks
9:15 – 10:15 HUBZone 101 and Q and A
10:15– 10:30 Break
10:30 – 11:15 How to complete a HUBZone application session
11:15 – 12:15 Panel Discussion on best practices
12:15 – 1:30 Lunch break
1:30 – 2:30 Doing Business with the Federal Government
2:30 – 2:45 Break
3:00 – 3:45 Other Certifications
3:45 – 4:00 Close out
November 13, 2011 by cs
Thanks to Dougherty County’s small business program and arrangements with Georgia Tech, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about doing business with the government.
Not only will you learn from the experts … but all of the classes being offered are free of charge!
Just consider the possibilities …
Need to learn the Fundamentals of Working with the Government?
Want to learn more about Business Planning, Development and Management?
How about government Contract Accounting?
Need a class on basic Contract Law?
How about Subcontracting with Prime Contractors?
And what about Surety Bonding or Business Financing?
Classes on each of these topics — and more — are now planned to be offered in Albany as a part of the Dougherty County’s Small Business Program, through special arrangements with Georgia Tech. Each of these classes are being offered at no cost.
Interested parties can find the complete schedule of classes being offered, and register for any of them, by clicking right here.
October 14, 2011 by cs
April 22, 2011 by cs
We have a special treat just for you!
On Tuesday, Apr. 26th we are conducting a class just for registered clients!
From 1:00 ’til 3:00 pm, we’re going to be showing you exactly how our bid match service works and how you can “tweak” it to make it more effective in identifying government contract opportunities for you.
Guest speaker Tom Larkin will show you how to use the GTPAC bid match service to identify government bid opportunities that are relevant to your business interests. You will learn how to identify the correct NAICS codes, PSC/FSC codes, as well as keywords for your Search Profile. We will demonstrate how to effectively use the powerful ”iSearch” tool to validate keywords, obtain and collect marketing data, as well as how to identify what the agency “calls” what you sell. Real-time examples will be utilized during this interactive class.
Don’t miss this free class! If you can’t attend, be sure to send someone as your representative.
The class will be held in the Arthur K. Williams Conference Room located in the Microbusiness Enterprise Center, 230 S. Jackson Street, Albany, Georgia 31701.
To register in advance, please visit: http://gtpac.ecenterdirect.com/ConferenceDetail.action?ID=7012.
We hope to see you there!
Oh, and one more thing … Come early at noon and hear Tom talk about “How to Work Effectively with Small Business Specialists.” Refreshments will be served.
April 20, 2011 by cs
Clients of the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) often ask about how to best present themselves to government officials, particularly contracting officers and small business specialists. GTPAC Procurement Counselors — most former contracting officers themselves — consistently advise that there are four key ingredients to making a favorable impression within the government marketplace:
- Familiarizing yourself with the particular agency you are targeting,
- Being prepared to deliver a concise “elevator speech” (a 30-second description of your expertise),
- Presenting a business card which displays your CAGE, NAICS, and NIGP codes, and
- Having a “Capabilities Statement.”
While the first three ingredients are fairly straightforward, here’s what’s important to understand about creating a Capabilities Statement for your business.
A Capabilities Statement should contain particular information and be organized in a certain way for use in the government sector.
For instance, a Capabilities Statement should always identify the company’s CAGE code. The reason for this is that a company has a CAGE code only if it’s registered in Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the federal government’s vendor database. Showing your CAGE code is important because that way contracting officials know you are oriented to the government sector (if you weren’t, you wouldn’t know you have to register in CCR) and are properly registered (federal agencies can’t do business with you unless you’re listed in CCR).
Identifying your PSC/FSC and NAICS codes is important, too, because that means you know what they are and their significance. (There are such codes for every product and service, and government agencies specify their contract opportunities using these codes.)
Similarly, if you are marketing to state and local governments, you should show your NIGP codes in your capabilities statement, because state and local governments use NIGP codes (instead of PSC/FSC or NAICS codes).
Providing point-of-contact information for the references you list is important, too, in case a government official wants to make a call or send an email to one of them. Each reference should also describe the type of work you performed or the products you delivered.
Over a period of time, you’ll want to develop several different versions of your capabilities statement, each tailored to a particular government sector audience. This is just like tailoring a personal resume when applying for a particular job. You want your past work descriptions to match-up with the contracting needs of the agency to which you’re marketing. Small Business Specialists withing government agencies use this information to decide whether to refer you to contracting offices and end-users. Contracting officials use this information to make initial determinations about whether you have the wherewithal to perform.
GTPAC also recommends, in addition to a Capabilities Statement, that you create a one-page briefing sheet on your firm. It, too, should be tailored to each audience or occasion. Briefing sheets can be very helpful as handouts when you are attending trade shows, expos, pre-bid conferences, or face-to-face meetings.
If you need a sample Capabilities Statement or more guidance on this subject, contact your GTPAC Procurement Counselor for help. Remember, too, to attend GTPAC classes to obtain detailed instruction on marketing your business to the government sector.
© 2010 Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center – All Rights Reserved.
April 19, 2011 by cs
It takes planning to make a good first impression. And first impressions are usually made on the basis of just a few words.
Sometimes, a few words are all you have a chance to say to a decision-maker — a government contracting official, for instance.
Companies who work with the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC) tell us that government officials always seem to be in a hurry and want vendors to get right to the point. Similarly, government contracting people tell GTPAC that they are weary of dealing with ill-prepared vendors who just can’t seem to succinctly state what it is they’re good at.
These circumstances constitute a few of the reasons why vendors who want to make a good first impression with the government need to have what’s called an “elevator speech.”
Simply put, an elevator speech is what you say, in 30 seconds or less, to describe your expertise.
The term “elevator speech” comes from a situation such as realizing you’re in an elevator with someone you’d like to impress … but you’ve got only a few floors to say anything before they get off the elevator.
What if you suddenly found yourself on an elevator with a contracting officer, an elected official, or some other a potential government customer? Are you ready to quickly and professionally describe the solutions you represent and the expertise you can deliver?
Here’s an outline of what a good elevator speech should address:
- Who and what you are
- What you specialize in
- What you do
- Why you’re the best at what you do
- What you want (a call to action)
- (And remember: Everything must be stated in less than 30 seconds.)
Contact your GTPAC Procurement Counselor for further assistance in formulating your elevator speech.
© 2010 Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center – All Rights Reserved.
February 7, 2011 by cs
If you missed the City of Albany’s previous orientation sessions regarding its new Small Business Procurement Program, take heart!
There’s still time to register for the next orientation session — on Feb. 9, 2011.
Registration is easy — just click here.
The orientation session — held from 10:00 am until noon — consists of a complete explanation of the City’s Small Business Procurement Program, the benefits of participating, and how to enroll.
This event also provides special instruction for Albany and Dougherty County small businesses who are interested in doing business with the City of Albany and other units of government.
All businesses are welcome to attend.
October 23, 2010 by cs
The City of Albany unveiled its new small business program in a public orientation program on Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. Over 50 businesses were represented at the event, along with numerous representatives of community organizations and government buying units.
You can view Fox 31′s report of the event by clicking right here.
The kick-off event came as a result of the recent adoption of a small business program by the City Commissioners of Albany. The program is designed to increase the number of City contract awards, and other procurements, to local small businesses, and thereby build business capacity, create jobs, and strengthen the local economy.
To be eligible to participate in the City’s program, a business must be located in the city limits of Albany or in Dougherty County.
There are many benefits that Albany-area businesses will realize by participating in the new Small Business Procurement Program, including:
• Customized training on how to do business with the City of Albany, including instruction on how to prepare bids and proposals.
• Instruction and counseling on all aspects of government contracting, including how to effectively market your business in the government arena.
• Detailed information about upcoming contract opportunities with the City, other local governments in the area, the State of Georgia, and federal agencies – as often as daily.
• An on-line vendor directory for use by the City, other local governments, prime contractors and local small businesses to identify business sources and develop relationships.
• Exclusive access to bid on City contracts valued at less than $50,000, through the City’s sheltered market program.
• A purchasing preference on City contracts involving requests for proposals and other solicitations involving proposal evaluation factors.
• Invitations to attend matchmaking and networking events, exclusively designed to help Albany-area businesses build business relationships and partnerships.
To participate, a company first must be certified as an Albany Small Business Enterprise (ASBE). Help is available to assist Albany businesses with this application process. There will be a one-time $25 fee to cover the City’s cost of program administration.
The City of Albany recently partnered with Georgia Tech to provide management and administrative support to the Small Business Procurement Program. Experienced government contracting experts from Georgia Tech will providing the training, instruction, and counseling to the Albany-area small businesses participating in the program.
If you missed the Oct. 18th kick-off event, it’s not too late to enroll in the program. You can do so by one of two ways:
- You can attend the next orientation session. They are scheduled on Nov. 17, 2011, and Jan. 5, Feb. 9, and Mar. 16, 2011. To register to attend any of these free orientations, simply click here.
- You can apply to participate in the City of Albany’s Small Business Procurement Program by downloading an application form here.
For more information or assistance, contact Clovia Hamilton at email@example.com.
October 23, 2010 by cs
Are you trying to decide whether to sell to the government market?
Are you interested in the government marketplace but not sure where to start?
Do you need to know how to be considered a viable contractor by government buyers?
These questions and more will be answered in this one-hour, rapid-fire briefing on government contracting on Nov. 10, 2010 from 10:00 am until 11:00 am.
The briefing will be conducted on the 1st floor conference room at the Microbusiness Enterprise Center located at 230 S. Jackson St., Albany, GA 31701-2885.
The briefing is free of charge, but you should register in advance. You can register by clicking right here.
The one-hour briefing will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
This briefing is the perfect place for a busy business person to learn what you need to know – and what you need to have in place – in order to effectively market yourself in the government sector.
This class will provide special instruction for Albany-area small businesses interested in doing business with the City of Albany as well as other units of government. All businesses are welcome to attend.