The lunch session of the Space Foundation’s small business (SB) workshop comprised quick talks by a couple of folks who know the space business in Florida. Mind you, this will not apply to all of you, but I will endeavor to tie this back to a more industry-neutral tone before I finish. I’m nice like that.
Doing Business with the Government
NASA facilities such as Kennedy Space Center and other government agencies publish notices about their past, present, and upcoming business opportunities. SBs employ the majority of Americans, and the government has a vested interest in encouraging those businesses. One great source is the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) site, FBO.gov. The site allows you to filter opportunities focused on SBs as well as by agency, state, date, type of opportunity, and keywords, as shown below.
The speaker talking about this topic–Joni Richards, Kennedy Space Center’s Customer Technology Manager–specializes in helping SBs identify and navigate around sites like FedBizOpps. Odds are, other agencies have similar positions.
Another thing Ms. Richards discussed was paying attention to current activities or initiatives within your target agency. For example, NASA was charged recently with the goal of getting robots and humans back to the Moon in five years–by 2024. While the full funding for this initiative is still being worked out as of this writing, once an agency receives direction on a particular initiative, there can be opportunities for large and small businesses to provide products or services.
If you think you’d be better off as a subcontractor or partnering with larger companies, you might also seek out companies already doing business with the agency of your choice. For example, the site listing exploration contractors for NASA’s Exploration Systems can be found here.
Getting Into the Network
Steve Lloyd, Chief Development Officer for All Points Logistics, indicated that what matters for a SB seeking government work are relationships (“Follow the money, find the customers”); preparing for success; and identifying opportunities. This means doing things like working across the industry community–and outside it–you never know where your contacts will lead you! There are also business learning opportunities such as the NASA Mentor-Protégé Program, where larger, established contractors teach a smaller entity how to work effectively with government.
Lloyd indicated that most SBs supporting NASA start out as subcontractors rather than prime contractors.
He also noted that opportunities can be found in changes–of policy, administration, or spending.
Ready to talk to the government about how you can add value?