Picture yourself doing business with the US government; wouldn’t that be something special? Anyone like yourself can win government contracts, even if you lack experience. Knowing how government contracting works will make winning your first federal, state, or local government contract significantly easier.
Today, I will take you through Desmond Acha’s story of how he won his very first contract with no experience. If he could do it with little to no resources or experience, you can too with a little guidance…
Desmond’s Initial Steps Towards Bidding on Government Contracts
When Desmond stumbled onto government contracting, he knew this was his ticket. While trying to learn everything about contracting, he attended all the SBA, PTAC, industry days, and outreach events designed to teach individuals how to win contracts. After attending multiple events and spending countless hours on YouTube, Desmond eventually threw in the towel. These events taught the bare minimum and did not give any action steps on how to proceed. Desmond became frustrated and decided to quit learning about government contracting.
One day, while Desmond was taking a drive, he had an idea to leverage his degree and work for a company in the government space. Leveraging his business degree, he was able to secure a position as a business developer within a company. While working for a set company, he learned the fundamentals of winning contracts at the highest level. The company he worked for was a consulting company whose clients were pursuing $100M + contracts. In addition, the company itself was responsible for winning over $20 billion in government contracts. After working there and soaking up as much information as possible, Desmond quit his job. He took what he learned at the company and on his journey and created a step-by-step process to win government contracts.
Setting Out to Pursue His Own Government Contracting Work
At that point, Desmond had a clear understanding of how to win government contracts at the highest level. With this newfound confidence, he ventured out on his own to win his own contracts leveraging the process he had created.
Desmond began bidding on government contracts with the state government with this revolutionary process and confidence. In less than 30 days, he won his first contract.
How did Desmond win the contract?
Since Desmond did not know what to sell, he went to the state’s procurement website. Every state has a website where they post contracts, for instance, Florida Procurements, Georgia Procurements, etc. Next, he started browsing for government contracts to bid on that he knew he could fulfill. After searching, he finally picked a carpet removal contract. Desmond was very nervous since this was his first-time bidding on a contract. Still, he knew if he picked something easier to do, it would reduce the risk of failure, hence choosing a carpet removal contract. He didn’t want to be in a situation where he would win the contract to find out later, he could not deliver. Such an action could jeopardize the company’s name in the government market.
Later, Desmond attended the pre-bid meeting and observed his surroundings and the other contract bidders. He wasn’t sure how he’d price the contract, so he added all his expenses and then a fair profit. After that, Desmond had no problem being the lowest contract bidder. Still, he believed he should make a decent profit since he was not in business to break-even. After finalizing the bid documents and submitting the bid, it was now a waiting game. Finally, a few weeks later, the government agency replied to Desmond, stating:
“Desmond, your company is the lowest bidder for this contract. However, records indicate your SBR status is pending. If your SBR status is not resolved, we are unable to award this contract to you. Please advise what steps you will be taking to update your SBR status. As this contract is _____ time is of the essence. Additionally, please submit the required references in the return email. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Sabrina ____ who is included in this email.
After receiving the email, Desmond was elated because he pretty much won the contract but had to resolve some issues first. He went on to resolve the SBR (Small Business Reserve) problem, which was no big deal. The next big challenge was finding references. Of course, not knowing where to find references, he went to craigslist and searched for “Carpet Removal.” He found and contacted a few contractors. The goal was to hire someone with experience and references. To his luck, the guy had three references for Desmond, which he called and informed them that he had won a local government contract and would need them to vouch for him, to which they agreed.
Now that everything had fallen into place, Desmond contacted the agency and informed them that the SBR status had been resolved and gave his references. The agency contacted all references to ensure that they were relevant for the job and that they knew Desmond. Two of the references were able to vouch for him perfectly, except for the last one, who almost blew the deal over by telling the agency that he didn’t know who Desmond was. The procurement officer informed Desmond of the slight hiccup. Desmond contacted the third reference to clarify and help the guy understand what was going on. Eventually, the third guy vouched for Desmond, and the procurement officer replied to Desmond with an email stating:
“Hi, Desmond, I spoke to the references everything is good, we are good to go, Friday evening.”
Winning His First Local Government Contract
Desmond could not believe himself; he had landed his first local government contract. A sense of excitement and relief filled him, but it was not over yet; it was time for Desmond to deliver on his part. First, he called the craigslist guy and informed him that they had won the contract and was grateful for the references. Next, he told him that the project would be a three-day process, from Friday to Sunday and that they were expected to deliver by Monday. On the first day, Desmond went over to Home Depot and bought all the supplies he would need for the job. Later, he arrived at his destination, the hospital, and spent the entire day pulling the carpet off with his fellow men. On Saturday, they continued by scraping and removing the adhesive and applying the needed chemicals. On Sunday, the final day, they brought out the buffer and buffed the floors till the floor was sparkling clean.
Desmond and the team did a phenomenal job working together. Desmond made it utterly important to keep the procurement officer updated on the difficulties and challenges they faced during these three days. He made sure to contact the agency to inform them of what they were doing. He wanted to show transparency towards the agency and establish trust. He wanted to let them know he was a solution-oriented individual and could be trusted. He needed to win them over; they would make an excellent reference for future projects. Desmond was thinking long-term as every other individual should when starting a business. The agency was impressed with all the work and appreciative of the great work he did.
Invoicing the Government
Time to get paid. After completing the project, Desmond proceeded to invoice the government by emailing them the invoice. By Friday, five days after he had finished the job, he received his first check from the government. Turnaround time was incredibly fast. Desmond finished a job in three days and was compensated well for it. Desmond was baffled and decided he would never work for anyone again. Government contracting work was all he would ever do.
After receiving his check, Desmond did the next thing; he paid the craigslist team 25% of the contract. He kept the remaining 75% for himself, which was still significant. Desmond initially had no pricing experience or any experience whatsoever. However, he was still able to profit, which says a lot about this industry.
No matter who you are or where you are, you can bid on government contracts and win them to grow your business. For example, suppose you run a business in your state. You can bid on a local government contract from within your state, or you can pursue federal contracts. The choice is yours.
Entering the government market is not complicated. However, you must first learn the steps and then practice to master your skills with repetition.
Fast forward to today, Desmond has established a strong business in the government market. He is winning contracts regularly and helping other clients win contracts in their respective industries. Suppose you duplicate the steps that Desmond followed. In that case, you can also select government contracts to bid on and win. Overall, entering the government market can create tremendous opportunities for you.
Everybody starts somewhere, but your persistence to succeed will make you stand out. What kept Desmond going was his total dedication and drive. Desmond was and is no guru, and he had no experience; he was a simple person like anyone out there. However, his determination to succeed and do whatever it takes mentality kept him g