Government agencies have mandates for large businesses to subcontract a percentage of their contracts to qualified small businesses. Additionally, the Government has numerous programs specifically designed to afford small businesses an advantage over their larger competitors, better known as “set asides.”

If you’re a small business and you aren’t working with the federal government, you’re missing out on not only a reliable source of revenue, but also a great source of experience for future business endeavors.

So, what are these programs that the government has set aside for small businesses and how do you gain access?

Within Title 13 Part 124 of the CFR you can find the various certification programs available to qualified small business. Some of these certifications are the 8(a) program, small disadvantaged business. Under the same Title 13 but in Part 127 the qualifications for Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) and Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification program can be found.

The 8(a) Business Development Program (BD) is set up to assist eligible small disadvantaged business concerns to compete in the federal contract arena through business development. Generally, the small business meets the basic requirements for admission to the 8(a) BD program if it is a small business which is unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of and residing in the United States, and which demonstrates potential for success.

Eligibility to qualify as a EDWOSB/ and/or WOSB, the small business must meet the requirements of a small business as defined in Part 121 of Title 13 and must be at least 51 percent unconditionally and directly owned and controlled by one or more women who are United States citizens.

Strategic Planning Objectives

  • Have a Game Plan
  • Know the requirements to do business with Government
  • Strategic Partner
  • Proper Line of Credit
  • Geographic reach
  • Know the Rules

Marketing Strategy – Prospecting

(a/k/a Hunting)

  • Understand where to identify opportunities and how to pursue them
  • Set up a forecasting pipeline
  • Procurement Notices
  • Contract Awards
  • Subcontract awards (a/k/a the “bridesmaid” vs the “bride”)
  • Identify current incumbent
  • When does contract expire?

Taking the time to forecast and choreograph your plan is critical to your success and it minimizes the barriers to entry. Understanding the requirements involved in government contracts and familiarizing yourself with past contract awards using will greatly reduce your exposure and risk. Don’t bite off more than you can chew — in other words, be strategic about your “reach” and do your research in getting licensed in the areas you are forecasting in your pipeline. Incremental growth is more manageable for a small business as it allows you to set up your infrastructure and learn at a pace that will benefit you going forward.


  • Deliverables
  • Deliverables
  • Deliverables
  • You must understand the Statement of Work (SOW) in the Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Contract compliance procedures

Identify agencies that procure the services or goods you supply and then research the past RFP’s/RFQ’s as well as the awardees. Look at the time frame for the award to assess when it will be going out for rebid so you can start your planning and marketing.

While there are benefits to obtaining certification for the above, not everyone will meet the requirements and it is a bit of an arduous journey to get certified.

Government agencies have mandates to work with small businesses. They also have numerous set aside programs specifically designed to give small business an advantage. These programs include, HUBZone, VOSB, 8a, WOSB (among others).

Every year, the federal government awards approximately $500 billion in contracts. Out of that amount, $145 billion is awarded to small businesses. Gaining access to this money is easier than you think.

If you are interested in learning more about how position and market your company for government contracts, you can contact Lisa Dolan, CPP at:

As consultants to the security industry, regardless of whether you are a new or seasoned small business owner, Whitehaven Advisors can provide you with the expert guidance and support needed to enter into government contracting. Whitehaven also provides advisory services to established government contractors on best practices for winning contract bids and remaining in compliance with complex contract requirement.