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How to prepare for your Small Business Office Visit: Mark Amtower

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All federal agencies have small offices that serve as entry points for start-ups and small businesses wishing to sell products and services to the government.

The main function of OSDBU (Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization) is to meet with small contractors and advise them on working with agencies. Any small business can request a meeting, but it must be scheduled in advance.

OSDBU is very helpful if you are prepared. If you’re not prepared, the cops won’t be very receptive and will likely be a short visit.

Once you’ve scheduled your meeting, there are a few things you should do before, during, and after the meeting.

before going

Understand that your small business status is not your competitive advantageWhile it is true that agencies have to meet certain quotas regarding the use of small business vendors, the person you are meeting with should know what your company can do to help solve a pressing problem. I want to

Know what to bring to the party. What are your company’s key competitive advantages or skills? How does this fit with what agents buy? Are your skills and products clearly displayed in marketing materials and on your website? Are you listed? Do you have government contracting experience (prime or sub)?

know how The government buys what you sell. Is it the GSA schedule or another contract vehicle? Are agencies stepping into contract set-aside for small businesses?

If you’re new to the market and don’t have access to contracts yet, it’s helpful to understand which contracts this agency uses. If you have access to contracts that your agency isn’t using, you’ll need to develop a strategy for accessing the appropriate contracts. Each agency has contractual priorities.

Resources that answer the above questions:

  • Check out the agency’s website, especially the one about procurement. I’m looking for information on contracts used by agencies and the names of key contacts. Find the person on LinkedIn and follow or get in touch.
  • Search the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) to see which contracts the agency prefers.
  • Find and read the Office of Management and Budget 300 Submission (aka Exhibit 300). The OMB 300 outlines future capital expenditures, including IT and professional services acquisitions. If you are an IT company, read OMB 53 dedicated to IT services. All government departments are required to file both OMB 300 and 53. After reading them, you should decide if what you offer matches the needs of the institution.
  • prepare 1 page You must leave documentation detailing company information, areas of expertise, NAICS codes, experience and biographies of key personnel, contact information, relevant certifications, contracts, and current and past federal clients.
  • Follow the agency (as a company page) on LinkedIn.

at a meeting

Please plan to enter. or It means using the information obtained about the agency and its needs in the meeting. Don’t talk about “me” or “my company”. Instead, be prepared to ask intelligent questions that provide useful information.

Don’t go to OSDBU and expect a dealThey don’t make acquisition decisions. Do not assume that you are eligible to sign a contract just because you belong to a segregated category such as HUBZone, 8a, women-owned or disabled veteran-owned businesses.

have the right attitudeExpect to be treated fairly and with respect. Expect to learn about agency missions and challenges. Expect to learn where you fit that mission. Expect to learn:

  • Who the decision makers are and how to access them
  • Agencies’ preferred contracting instruments and their existing vendors,
  • Which large main contractors work there and who is their Small Business Liaison Officer (SBLO)?

The meeting should have access to forecasts of agency contracting opportunities. This is a document prepared by the agency regarding the expected activities under the current contract and a map of where the expenditure will occur.

pro tips: Try to learn at least partial answers to some of these questions before the meeting. The more you know before you leave, the more likely you are to leave with useful information—information that will lead to your business.

after the visit

You should know by the end of the meeting if the agency is a good target for your services. keep in touch When Do what small business executives suggest. Contact OSDBU recommended people and connect with them on LinkedIn. Send a thank you email. See if that particular office is on her LinkedIn and connect.

Continue researching what you’ve learned about agencies. Regularly monitor government media to see what they are doing and sign up for news alerts about the agency.

If you are new to government contracts, please be patient. Invest in education through legitimate sources and learn how to respond to RFQs and RFPs before you actually bid. Leverage LinkedIn to find key talent and finally….network, network, network!