The key is to find who is making purchases on government credit cards for items or services you sell. To get you started, here’s a page of credit card purchases made by employees of the Department of the Interior all around the country.
These cards are generally used for smaller purchases and travel, and government employees are racking up at least $35 billion every year on their cards. If you have a product or service that the federal government buys, you need to invest some time finding out how to market yourself. We’ve discussed B2B marketing before, but with the federal government, it goes to a whole new level.
Have the IRS Pay You!
Let’s talk about a branch of the government that most of us dislike…at least somewhat: the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS, by its own estimate, spends about $4 million dollars every month charging “micro-purchases” on its federal charge cards. Those are purchases up to $3,000 each.
When I drop three grand on an item, I don’t call it a “micro-purchase.” The IRS’s terminology may give us a little insight into its perspective on spending. Alas, that’s probably a topic for another article and perhaps in a different forum.
However, the IRS is very helpful for small businesses that would like to be considered for these purchases. Check out this IRS information page that tells you what you need to do to get your business listed.
As you review this information from the IRS, you’ll see that the agency refers to various special categories of small businesses: HubZone, disadvantaged, woman-owned, veteran-owned, and others.
From the Government and Here to Help You
Confusing? Not to worry. The General Services Administration (GSA) handles much of what the federal government buys and it has a wide range of training opportunities — including webinars — that tell you how to do business with the government.
When looking through the training opportunities, try to find one where you’ll learn about the GSA Schedules program which can be a good way to sell items that the government buys in volume. Millions of items are sold through GSA Schedules and 80% of the contractors are small businesses. Your business could have a slice of that pie by taking the correct steps to landing a government contract. Big names like Dell, HP and Toshiba don’t have all the government sales locked up.
Every year the government buys $50 billion of goods through the GSA schedules and small businesses get more than a third of that pie. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get into the GSA Schedules program and many businesses hire a third party to perform the service for them.
However, the GSA does offer webinars and other online training materials for the DIY business owner. The GSA Schedules program is only one way to sell to the government. For a good overview, scan this information page. Spend some time exploring your options and determining how your company can best do business with the government.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7067732521/ “Government Spending,” © 2012 Tax Credits, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.