Ask SCORE – Matching Small Businesses with Big Buyers
Agencies at all levels of governments often look to small businesses for products and services. In fact, many designate certain projects or annual purchasing volumes for small-sized vendors. Not surprisingly, this makes for a highly lucrative, highly competitive market. But because of the intricate procurement process that these organizations must follow, it can be sometimes difficult for a small business to gain entry to this market and get buyers’ attention.
For nearly a decade, the public-private Business Matchmaking initiative has provided opportunities for small businesses to make those all-important connections, and navigate the world of government contracting. At dozens of Business Matching events held around the country each year, small business owners can land one-on-one appointments with key officials from hundreds of major corporations and agencies. Business Matchmaking also helps small business learn about selling to big customers at local, state, and national levels.
While not every Business Matchmaking participant walks away with a government contract, the program does guarantee the opportunity to state your case directly to decision makers. And if you’ve never sold to large corporations or government agencies, this is an excellent starting point.
Best of all, Business Matchmaking workshops and events are free. You can search events, register, set up to three appointments and get all you need to participate at www.businessmatchmaking.com.
Another venue for making inroads into government contracting is the Victory in Procurement (VIP) program, sponsored by American Express OPEN, the financial services company’s small business division. Day-long VIP events provide attendees with interactive workshops on relevant government contracting topics, networking opportunities and keynote speeches by government officials and industry experts.
And in 2012, VIP partnered with local Procurement Technical Assistance Centers to present a nationwide series of workshops offering best practices for marketing and successfully pitching their business to government buyers.
The VIP website (www.openforum.com/governmentcontracting) also provides information on the basics of government contracting, registering your small business with procurement agencies, and valuable marketing and networking tips.
Another great source for small business expertise is SCORE “For the Life of Your Business.” SCORE is a non-profit organization of more than 12,000 volunteers who provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners.
To learn more about the local chapters of SCORE, visit www.thevillagesocala.score.org or www.lakesumter.score.org