5 Tips for Government Contracting: Empowering Women-Owned Businesses

3 mins read

Solli Frank (left) and Angie Milakovic (right)

By Laiken Aune, Advocacy Director, NDWBC

Women-owned businesses play a vital role in driving economic growth and innovation in North Dakota and beyond. Recognizing the importance of supporting these business owners, the North Dakota Women’s Business Center (NDWBC) provides coaching and connection to other resources to help them succeed. One significant and under-utilized avenue for business expansion is government contracting, which offers numerous opportunities for growth and stability. This article offers five tips to consider when seeking government contracts.

Throughout the article, be on the lookout for advice in government procurement from Solli Frank and Angie Milakovic, founders of Kajaer GeoConsulting LLC, a North Dakota Certified Women-Owned Business that works in procurement to fill government contracts.

1: Leverage Government Contracting Resources

Government contracting can be complex, but fortunately, various resources are available to assist, including the NDWBC and ND APEX Accelerator (formerly PTAC). These organizations provide educational resources, training workshops, one-on-one coaching, and networking opportunities to equip you with the necessary knowledge and support to navigate the government contracting landscape successfully. It’s a jungle out there!

2: Conduct Thorough Market Research

Before pursuing government contracts, conduct comprehensive market research to identify potential federal, state, and local opportunities, and target agencies that align with your business’s capabilities and expertise. Take time to explore government procurement websites, such as the System for Award Management (SAM.gov), the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps), and the North Dakota Procurement Office sites to find current and upcoming contracts. Additionally, researching the needs and goals of specific agencies can help you tailor your proposals effectively and showcase how your business can fulfill their requirements. Pro Tip: Don’t pay to register with SAM.gov. You can lean on the resources mentioned in the first tip to help you navigate the process for free.

“Find keywords that relate to your ideal contract situation and search with those words on SAM.gov. to avoid the government-website rabbit hole. Researching is an opportunity to understand what the government is putting out bids for, how you can fill their needs, the types of contracts posted, and who is getting them. We make it a point to go to SAM.gov daily to learn the terminology and acronyms. We look at in-progress or contract opportunities that have been awarded and research the company that received the award.”

3: Develop a Strong Proposal Strategy

Crafting a compelling proposal is essential to win government contracts. Take the time to understand the requirements of each contract and align your proposal accordingly. Clearly articulate your unique selling points, emphasize your qualifications, and highlight your past performance and success stories. Develop a solid pricing strategy that is competitive and reasonable and ensure your proposal is compliant with all the specifications outlined in the solicitation. Engage in continuous improvement by seeking feedback on your proposals to enhance your chances of success in future bids.

4: Build Relationships and Collaborate

Networking and building relationships are crucial for success in government contracting. Attend industry conferences, trade shows, and matchmaking events to connect with government representatives, prime contractors, and other women-owned businesses. Collaborating with other businesses, both as a prime contractor or a subcontractor, can open doors to new opportunities. Strategic partnerships and teaming arrangements can help you access larger contracts and complement your capabilities with those of other businesses, increasing your chances of securing government contracts. For a list of regional procurement events, visit ndptac.org.

“We should reach out and work with the most talented and resilient professionals. We know that talent and credentials are traditionally recognized, but one of the most overlooked professional skill sets is resiliency. Women support women-owned businesses because they tend to exude resilience. That is what makes us relatable to each other.“

5: Certify as a Women-Owned Business (CWOB)

Obtaining certification as a Women-Owned Business is a crucial step for women entrepreneurs seeking government contracts. NDWBC offers certification at the state level and can help you determine if federal certification is right for you. Becoming certified enhances the visibility and credibility of your business, making it more attractive to federal agencies and prime contractors. The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program and NDWBC offers the Certified Women-Owned Business program for the state, providing access to set-aside contracts specifically for CWOBs. As such, you can gain a competitive edge and open doors to lucrative contracting opportunities.

“When registering with the state and Federal governments, you will see that certain contracting opportunities can be obtained through various certifications. We immediately recognized that personal credentials opened doors, so we certified our business.”

North Dakota Women’s Business Center

To learn more about certifying your business as women-owned, visit ndwbc.com.

For detailed information about how to do business with the government, visit ndptac.org.