Federal Bid: How Small and Medium Businesses Win Federal RFPs

RFP experts working with small and medium sized businesses on RFPs
How Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses Win Federal Bids
Homer Simpson in the bush GIF experience

Small businesses would love to win that federal bid. Unfortunately, when big, fancy corporations raise their hands, it can make you (as a small- or medium-sized business owner) feel like the “Homer Simpson in the bush” gif. Luckily, you don’t have to let responding to federal RFPs intimidate you! At The Bid Lab, we’ve helped hundreds of clients knock out that big incumbent they thought was untouchable. We’ve gathered our best practices into a few tips to help you win that next (or first!) large federal opportunity. 

Dip Your Toes into Federal Bidding Waters

With any large undertaking, it’s important to prepare yourself for a timely process that might require some fine-tuning. Federal bids can be large, demanding and complicated. Jumping right into one could leave you feeling exhausted and demoralized. Instead, you should ideally spend a few weeks, if not months, priming your company for a federal bid. Now is the time to tighten up operations, fine-tune communications, and gather your dream team to tackle the bid piece by piece. 

Start at the Local Level

Even Michael Phelps started on his varsity swim team before he made it to the Olympics. Unlike large corporations, small and medium businesses are more familiar with local regulations and the lay of the land. So, providing your goods and services to your local businesses can help you network. New client relationships mean more business experiences and future references to list for future opportunities. It gives you a firm foundation, providing you a leg up on the competition!

For example, say your alma mater and local university published an RFP to update their IT network. In this case, as an alumnus, neighbor, and expert in your field, you’ll know exactly what the university needs. You can take advantage of the obstacles that big corporations will have to overcome. If you start local, you’ll earn rave reviews where business matters most: in your own backyard.

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Position Yourself for Federal Bids

Any time you’re actively searching for RFPs, it’s important to be efficient in your search. Focusing on only the RFPs your organization fits well within is an art form in itself. You don’t want to misuse your resources. If your organization specializes in catering special events, you’ll have trouble preparing a response for a NASA facility-related RFP. Then you’re stuck reconfiguring your business to fit the Scope of Work instead of the other way around. Find an RFP that feels like they wrote it just for you. If the RFP seeks an annual contract to cater the fundraising gala? Then, by all means, start leveraging your 10+ years of catering industry experience. This undeniably positions you as the best organization for the project. 

Get in While the Gettin’ is Good

According to the Small Business Administration, in 2022, 27% of small businesses received federal contracts. However, small businesses aren’t applying for these federal procurement opportunities like they used to. Small business responses have dropped nearly 40% in the past 10 years. In essence, small businesses received more federal dollars, even with fewer candidates. With the annual goal of 23% of federal bids awarded to small businesses, the market is ripe! So our advice? Be one of those early birds that can jump in and shine in a less crowded pool. Moreso, if your small business is woman-owned, disadvantaged-owned, veteran-owned, or minority-owned, the federal government seeks even more to award these businesses with procurement contracts. 

Become a Subcontractor First

Many federal procurements are large projects that require a comprehensive team to tackle. So, start by first partnering with an experienced prime contractor going after a similar project. By responding to a federal bid first as a subcontractor, you’ll get a feel for how the process works. You’ll also get your business name in front of the eyes that might come across your prime bid later. Even if your bid as a subcontractor is not selected, your organization’s name is “out there.” Others will know your company can handle federal procurements. 

With the odds increasingly in favor of small- and medium-sized businesses to win federal bids, the barrier to entry has become lower than ever. This makes these once-white-whale contracts less intimidating and real options for expanding your business. 

Armed with all this information, the only thing left is the right team to get you started. The Bid Lab has assisted many clients through procuring a federal bid! We can empower your organization and help them understand that small is mighty. We can team up to help you achieve your expansion goals. Or, you can kick your feet up and let us take care of the whole kit and caboodle. However you need us, reach out! Contact us for a free consultation by calling 1-844-4BIDLAB or emailing respond@thebidlab.com.