Top 3 for 2013 - Guy Timberlake on small-business strategies

Wednesday - 1/2/2013, 7:26pm EST

Guy Timberlake, co-founder and chief visionary officer, American Small Business Coalition

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Contracting companies can turn to volumes of data on current market research to help with contracting.

Guy Timberlake, co-founder and chief visionary officer of the American Small Business Coalition, says the top priority for companies should be better leveraging the resources already at their disposal.

Guy Timberlake's Top 3 for 2013
  1. Market Research/Intelligence. The ability to effectively gather, assess and leverage information to support decision-making has and always will be a primary key to success in government contracting. While this activity should be the precursor to all business development and capture efforts, cultivating actionable intelligence from disparate information is not done very well by some and wholly disregarded by others. In light of the very visible reduction in agency participation in industry events and hosting of their own industry days, federal contractors across the board will be compelled to rely even more on their ability to identify and exploit information. This will directly impact how they develop and manage relationships and make go/no-go decisions on everything from conference and trade show participation to actual business opportunities.

  2. Simplified Acquisitions/Small Business. In light of continuing calls for Congress and agencies to "do right by small business" in government contracting, a very significant opportunity has been missed by Government and Industry that could provide substantive benefits to both. Federal agencies spent more purchasing dollars in FY11-12 ($30B) using Simplified Acquisition Procedures, than from FY03-10 ($29B). With less than half of these awarded dollars going to small business concerns in recent years, one missed opportunity is the fact agencies could likely have achieved or surpassed the Government's goal for doing business with small business concerns had more purchases been made with them in FY10, FY11 and FY12. Additionally, many small businesses overlook these opportunities. While some do so intentionally, believing these smaller (lower risk) opportunities are not worth the effort, others are simply not aware of how to identify and pursue them. Even with shrinking budgets and a plethora of available contract vehicles, spending in this area increased dramatically from $3.8B government-wide in FY09 to $11.1B in FY10, and has not looked back.

  3. And Now, the Hoop of Death! In recent conversations with small federal contractors and program and acquisition officials at federal agencies, one of the immediate effects of agency budgets being cut is subcontractors being cut, too. Regardless of how much a small business may have contributed to the "win" they are all too often, expendable with little if any hesitation. Acts of self-preservation by companies with direct contracts are increasing, and the usually not publicly disclosed premise is "to maintain revenue, profit levels and relevance." The funny thing is no one, not even many small businesses impacted by this are terribly surprised. While the level of scrutiny applied to the vetting process for small companies hoping to "make the team" has been on the rise for years, the issue is, in more than just a few instances, when small companies with the "goods" show up, they are mugged and dumped out of a moving vehicle. Despite legislation and new rules intended to police subcontracting, as the stakes get higher, small businesses can expect the hoops to become more numerous and with added perils, like being over spike pits or being doused in gasoline and lit on fire.