Every year, countless small businesses miss out on potential revenue from government contracts because they don't understand how to sell to local government. If you're confused by the procurement process, below are tips and resources that will help you understand how to pursue local government contracts:

Learn What Local Government Agencies Need.
Not all local government agencies have a need for what your small business offers. Visit agency websites to learn more about each agency and whether or not your business can help them. Or save time with an electronic notification service that updates you with all new local government contracts that fit your business. If you were researching these on your own, you'd likely miss out on many opportunities.

Network and Make Connections.
Make your company and its capabilities known to local government buyers and decision-makers even when you're not pursuing a contract. At the same time, you can make sure your company meets all of their internal bidders-list requirements and find out about any important documentation. Many government agencies hold procurement conferences and seminars throughout the year. Attend these conferences to network and build relationships with important agency personnel while gaining first-hand knowledge about selling to local government.

Explore Small Business Options.
If it seems your company is too small or inexperienced to win local government contracts, consider subcontracting instead. Prime contractors will often team with a smaller business when necessary to get a job done. Get a list of prime contractors from your local government agencies. Then contact them to express an interest in being a subcontractor. Include details about your company's qualifications and competitiveness.

And don't give up on winning contracts on your own. Many local government offices – such as parking bureaus and boards of education – regularly contract with smaller businesses. Also, consider contacting politicians with an interest in local businesses. They might be able to help you land a government contract.

Learn From These Small Business Resources.

  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a wealth of information on local government contracting.
  • The General Services Administration (GSA) has an office called The Office of Small Business Utilization (SBU), which is the GSA's advocate for small, minority and women business owners. The mission of this office is to "promote increased access to GSA's nationwide procurement opportunities."
  • If you need assistance with the technical aspects of the procurement process, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) are a great resource for small businesses. These centers help businesses with bidding on, managing and fulfilling local, state and federal contracts.

Although getting started with local government contracts might be intimidating at first, working in the public sector can be profitable. So put these tips and resources to use, and position your small business for government contracting success.