The federal government spends between $15 billion and $20 billion annually on goods and services, including editing and writing. Communication skills are in high demand. The government’s massive web renewal project faces much work ahead in streamlining 1,500 websites into one overarching website, Canada.ca.
Small businesses across Canada, including solopreneurs, can contract directly to this lucrative and stable market. To make the feds one of your clients, put these tasks on your to-do list.
- Take free webinars and seminars. Get tips on supplying professional services, writing proposals and more from the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises. Check the events calendar at buyandsell.gc.ca, the procurement portal for suppliers and federal buyers.
- Register in the Supplier Registration Information database. This gives you your Procurement Business Number, essential for getting paid.
- Apply to get registered on the ProServices supply arrangement. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has asked departments to use this government-wide tool for many professional services contracts worth up to $86,900. ProServices covers 150 job roles and is great for small businesses. That’s because, unlike other government-wide buying tools, no proof of revenues is required when applying.
The supplier list is refreshed every quarter, giving new firms a chance to apply. To do so, download the solicitation document (it’s the latest file under “Solicitation Documents”).
- Apply for security clearance for your company and staff. All contractors must now have organizational security clearance as well as personnel security clearance. This means that independent professionals must operate as a business. Usually, that is as a sole proprietorship or corporation.
Another good reason to get on ProServices is that it is one of the few ways to get organizational and personnel security clearance. PSPC will sponsor your firm, even if you don’t have a government contract in place. The other option relates to bidding on tenders (see more about bidding below). In this case, you can ask in your proposal that the federal buyer sponsor you for clearance, should your bid be selected. Contact PSPC’s Contract Security Program for more details.
- Subcontract. Working for a company that already has a federal contract gives you experience if you lack it. Search here for departmental contracts awarded over $10,000.
- Get on source lists. These are list of preferred suppliers for contracts under $25,000. To ask to be placed on such lists, approach departments that match your expertise. Phone materiel managers, or email editorial services or web renewal managers. Find contact information in the departmental section of Government Electronic Directory Services.
- Bid on tenders. Higher-value tenders are posted on buyandsell.gc.ca. These are mainly for goods but occasionally for services.
- Market yourself, always. This is critical. If your firm gets registered on ProServices, post details on your LinkedIn profile and company page, your website, your Online Directory of Editors profile — any online profile. Contribute to social media networks so that others spot your expertise. The federal government is increasingly active on social media.
Still have procurement questions? Comment below and I’ll do my best to help. For more about contracting to the Government of Canada, see “How to Land a Federal Contract, Even as a Solopreneur,” in the November 2014 issue of Flourish magazine.
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