The do's and don'ts for small businesses looking to win big

Wayne McDonald, the director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the Social Security Administration, compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for small businesses looking to secure government contracts and stand out in a competitive market.

“You need to strategize and pin the agencies where you’re most likely to get a positive outcome,” he said during his presentation at ACQUIRE, an acquisition trade show presented by Washington Technology’s parent company, 1105 Media.

His recommendations to small businesses include:

  • Learn what an organization buys before marketing to them
  • Discover where your expertise fits into an agency
  • Do your homework
  • Become familiar with Federal Acquisition Regulations
  • Know your niche and where the skills are needed
  • Seek out opportunities where the offices post them
  • Develop sample proposals to increase response times
  • Use private domain emails in lieu of Hotmail or Gmail
  • Keep website data current and put location on website
  • Update your profile each year

McDonald also advised that small businesses should avoid several practices, including:

  • Do not market to every federal agency
  • Do not limit your inquiries to sole source
  • Do not market general qualifications
  • Do not simply market small business certifications
  • Do not overstate your capabilities
  • Do not send non-specific marketing emails
  • Do not rely on socio-economic status alone
  • Do not market where they do not procure what you sell

McDonald said small business leaders should try to align themselves with the needs and requests from the government.

“You need to tell us what your specific specialty area is as it matches up to a need that we have,” he said. “The more consistently you do that, the more consistently you’ll get good follow-up reactions from the agencies.”

About the Author

Hannah Lang is an intern with Washington Technology. You can reach out to her at

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