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How to Win a Federal Contract Faster as a Woman-Owned Business
Women-owned small business federal contracting is a complex and competitive arena. In general, contractors face plenty of challenges trying to stand out in a crowded market. Those difficulties often escalate in federal contracting, where decisions are heavily influenced by existing relationships. Breaking into the market and winning bids can be tricky. But the good news is that resources are available to level the playing field.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) runs a program to support women-owned small business federal contracting. Besides running this initiative, the SBA works closely with federal agencies to help them achieve a 5% contracting goal for women-owned small businesses. The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program is designed to make this goal achievable.
The Purpose of The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program
According to the SBA, this program is all about creating a more even competitive climate. There are parts of the government where women are underrepresented when bidding for contracts. As such, this creates a problem for immediate bidding. And it can extend the scope of the problem as agencies may be more likely to work with businesses they trust. When women-owned small businesses are underrepresented, they can’t get their foot in the door and be taken seriously. The program aims to eliminate this bias by changing the competitive landscape surrounding bidding for certain government contracts.
How the Program Works
The program uses the concept of exclusivity to create a stronger sense of equality in federal contracting. To act on this, the SBA has identified industries in which women-owned small businesses tend to be underrepresented. From there, the agency identifies contracts for the program and limits the competition for those bids. In this way, a more favorable environment for those specific proposals is created. As a result, a woman-owned small business has a higher likelihood of winning that contract. But perhaps more importantly, it allows them to start building a reputation as a trusted contractor. In addition, the program adds further restrictions to create opportunities for women-owned small businesses that are considered economically disadvantaged.
Some of the industries covered by the program include:
• Support activities for forestry
• Sewage treatment, water supply and irrigation
• Various segments of construction and remodeling
• Water/sewer and oil/gas pipeline construction
• Civil engineering construction
• Contracting in specific sectors, including structural steel, framing, masonry, glass, roofing, and siding.
This is a small sampling of a very long list of industries covered in the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.
Getting Into the Program
Eligibility requirements for the program are relatively straightforward. You have to qualify as a small business. And your business must also be at least 51% women-owned and controlled. Those women must be U.S. citizens. Women must also be involved in both long-term decision-making and day-to-day management. Full requirements can be found on ecf.gov.
Preparing for a Bid
The SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program can get you into a federal bid. However, the program won’t help you win. It is essential to prepare your business to offer the best bid possible. Small business loans can go a long way in making this happen. Working capital loans can give you funds to build your business infrastructure. From there, you can strengthen your bid and put yourself in a better position to succeed. Don’t let the many myths about women-owned businesses keep you down. Instead, take advantage of special programs designed to level the playing field.
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