Steps to Doing Business With the Government
- Look locally. Contact your city and county public works departments to find out how they publish bid opportunities.
- For Montana Department of Transportation and national bid opportunities, get your business certified.
Even if you are not certified, register on SAM. The federal government uses SAM (System for Award Management). You can register at https://www.sam.gov/. You can do a search on existing registered businesses at http://web.sba.gov/pro-net/search/dsp_dsbs.cfm.
Add your business to Montana's Vendor's list by visiting http://vendorresources.mt.gov/.
Look for large opportunities and sign up for email notifications. Federal opportunities for $25,000 and more can be found at https://www.fbo.gov.a
Montana bid opportunities can be found at https://bids.sciquest.com/apps/Router/PublicEvent?CustomerOrg=StateOfMontana.
Look for sub-contracting opportunities. The government bid process can take six months. It is often faster to find sub-contracting opportunities with companies that have already received a government contract. You can find federal sub-contracting opportunities at http://web.sba.gov/subnet/search/dsp_search_option.cfm.
Network and market your business to find opportunities under $25,000. All purchases under $100,000 are supposed to go to small business. Federal agencies use credit cards for purchases of $2,500 or less. For purchases between $2,500 and $25,000, they must obtain quotes from at least three vendors.
Use small business liaisons. Federal agencies have small business liaisons who help small businesses with the procurement process.
Get help through your SBDC or PTAC. Contact your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center) for free assistance with government contracting. Visit http://mtcdc.org/consulting/support-for-businesses/. Montana PTAC is a free service to help you contract with government agencies.
- Self-certifications: The federal government recognizes small businesses (SBE), women-owned (WBE), and disadvantaged (i.e. minority) businesses (SDB). The SBA has established two widely used size standards for small business:
- Fewer than 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries, and
- Less than $7 million in average annual receipts for most nonmanufacturing industries.
- There is no formal certification process, but on request, you need to provide proof that you satisfy the size and for WBE and SDB’s the ownership requirement.
- HUBZone businesses. If your business is located in a low-median income or high unemployment area, you may be eligible for preferential bidding on federal projects. Go to http://www.sba.gov/content/applying-hubzone-program to see if you are in a HUBZone.
- SBA 8(a) program for minority businesses. The SBA 8(a) program provides direct help in obtaining federal contracts. Participants must have been in business at least 2 years and have non-businesss and non-home assets less than $250,000. For more information, visit http://www.sba.gov/content/8a-business-development. To apply, visit https://sba8a.symplicity.com/applicants/guide.
- US Department of Transportation recognizes veteran-owned small businesses. For more information, visit http://osdbu.dot.gov/about/customers.cfm#VOSB.
- There are no state certifications to do business with the state of Montana.
- The Montana Department of Transportation certifies minority and women-owned businesses. Visit http://www.mdt.mt.gov/business/contracting/civil/dbe.shtml.