WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

How to use small business goals to your advantage

Each year, various reports come out that analyze how well the government is doing in meeting its small business goals.

The results are generally similar; the government isn’t doing well. While a few individual agencies may reach their goals, the government fails overall, and fails miserably.

Often, the purpose of these reports seems to be bashing the government.

new report from Centurion Research Solutions offers similar conclusions, but with a twist. They actually have advice on how you can use their analysis of the small business goals to help find new opportunities and forge better relationships with your customers.

“We talk a lot about the importance of getting in and talking to customers,” said Kathleen Sievers, the company’s research director.

And that’s where this report can come in handy. It gives companies, particularly small businesses, the information they need to go in and talk to customers about their small business goals.

If an agency is falling short, the conversation is about improving. If the agency is meeting its goals, the conversation can be about how to maintain that status, Sievers said.

The report breaks down each small business categories: small-disadvantaged, woman-owned, service-disabled, veteran-owned, and historically underutilized business zone. The government has an overall small business goal of 23 percent for prime contracts, and each category has its own individual goal.

Service-disabled businesses have come on strong in recent years and have slightly exceeded their goal of 3 percent for fiscal 2012. That category has seen steady growth as more returning veterans launch their contracting firms, and as more agencies make awards to these companies, Sievers said.

Woman-owned also have seen growth and garnered 4 percent of prime contracts in 2012, but are still short of their 5 percent goal.

The most established category – small disadvantaged business – hit 8 percent in 2012, against a goal of 5 percent. This category has exceeded its goal for over a decade, according to Centurion Research Solutions findings.

But HUBzone businesses haven’t been as lucky; their use grew steadily in the early years of this century, but they peaked in 2009 and 2010, and have declined steadily since them. They have never reached their 3 percent goal, and hit 2 percent in fiscal 2012.

Sievers speculated that the HUBzone businesses hit their peak during the height of the recovery spending, when a lot of construction work was being funneled by the government into smaller communities.

The Centurion Research Solutions report breaks down each agency according to each small business category. It also provides a four-year trend line.

The report also includes an analysis of the seven success factors that the Small Business Administration has established to help agencies meet their small business goals. Each success factor sets out specific actions and policies agencies should be following.

This kind of information can help companies target specific agencies, and customers and can help guide who you talk to and what you talk about, as far as small business goals are concerned.

Some specific actions that companies should take include attending vendor outreach events and contact primes for teaming potential, which is important for agencies that need to meet subcontracting goals.

But above all, the advice centers on identifying an agencies problem – in this case, meeting small business goals – and offering them a solution to that problem.

Sievers said she has followed small business programs for more than a decade and thinks one of the bigger changes she has seen is that the government isn’t just paying lip service to small business goals.

“There has been a real evolution over the last few years,” she said.

And in today’s tight market, companies need to seize any opportunity they can to get in front of customers and explain how they can solve a problem.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 11, 2013 at 9:51 AM

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