INDUSTRY

Do you know how to crack the federal market?

Aside from discussing the opportunities and the keys of success, the panelists on our latest webcast—the Fast 50 Secrets to Navigating Today’s Federal Market— offered advice to companies interested in penetrating the federal market.

First, it’s important to set goals for what kind of company you want to be.

“There are a lot of companies that have a five-year lifecycle, and then they’re out. They get right up to $35 million, and they bail—and that’s fine,” said Bob Lohfeld, CEO and founder, Sev1Tech. “If you want to be the best at networking, that’s a great identity, but figure out what you want out of the business.”

Lohfeld said that if you want to remain active in your company, keep the employee count under 30. That way, you can still deliver work yourself; however, if you want to take the next step and mentor and cultivate people, then you need to decide from the onset that you want to invest in the infrastructure, benefits and all of the pieces that come along with making that vision happen.

You also need to be asking yourself if you have the resources, said Pamela Siek, CEO of Marathon TS. That’s because it could take years to win your first contract.

“For me, I went after both the commercial and the federal markets, so I was able to pay the bills and keep the doors open with the commercial work that we were doing, and it allowed me to spend three or four years trying to penetrate the federal marketplace,” Siek said.

Because it can take so long to get your foot in the door at some agencies, you should expect some frustration. But it is crucial to remain committed, said Steve Halligan, president and chief operating officer, n2grate.

One thing that frustrated Halligan and his co-founder was that, in order to win work, you need past performance—but it is tough to get past performance if you cannot win the work. “We were really scraping, clawing, trying to find the right niche for us,” Halligan said.

"I really needed to take deep breaths and just focus and maintain commitment to what we were doing,” Halligan said.

At the end of the day, though, the panelists encouraged those companies who are interested to continue working toward entering the federal marketplace.

“Absolutely the federal market is a wonderful market to be in if you know who you are and you know what you want to be,” Lohfeld said.

In addition to advice for companies trying becoming a federal contractor, our panelists discussed their stories of success, lessons learned, and challenges ahead, in addition to answering a number of questions from the audience. Click here to check out the full presentation.

Click here for more on the 2015 Washington Technology Fast 50.

About the Author

Mark Hoover is a senior staff writer with Washington Technology. You can contact him at mhoover@washingtontechnology.com, or connect with him on Twitter at @mhooverWT.

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