Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Like many clinicians, I thought that once I was licensed, I'd easily open up a private practice, and within a year, I would be enjoying lucrative, low stress, practice working for myself. I was wrong. I found myself working for a large community mental health organization, and I was not happy. I left work feeling defeated on most days.
But more than just being overworked and underpaid, I felt like I didn't have a voice at the company where I worked. It may sound a bit cliché, but I became a counselor to help people. I didn't feel Iike I was walking in my purpose. I was looking for a way to help others, where I could have more control over my career, my time, and my life in general. It was around this time that I came across Government Contracting. Government Contracting has allowed me the freedom, flexibility, and finances to create the life I want. Here are my 5 things to consider if you're interested in applying for government contracts.
Find The Right Contract
What's your passion? Consider contracts that are of interest to you, don't accept a contract for the sake of accepting a contract. What skills do you have to meet the needs of the contract? You must be able to meet every aspect of the contract before you agree to take it on. The government, federal, state, and county have specific requirements when it comes to vendor agreements. Only accept a contract award, if you are sure you can meet all the requirements.
Size Doesn't Matter
At least this is true when it comes to government contracts. Not all contracts go to the largest companies. Most large contracts (over $1 million) offer an incentive for large companies to include small businesses (less than 500 employees) for a portion of the contract. Often priority is given to minority businesses. For example, 51 % of women-owned and ethnic minorities would first receive their contracts. Partnering with a larger company is an excellent way to transition into contracting.
Pricing Is A Balancing Act
Pricing is delicate in a government contract. Research pricing based on previous awardees of the contract you're applying for and similar contracts. Review your financials to understand your current costs and possible changes in the market that could drive those costs. The initial instinct is to bid on the contract by offering the lowest price.
The contract isn't always awarded to the lowest bidder. The company that is showing the most robust response to the contract solicitation may be the one that obtains the contract. It's essential to resist the urge to underbid (or to be priced so high that you're barely considered) since there is rarely an opportunity to request more funds once the contract is awarded.
Are You Actually Ready?
Ask yourself these three questions to confirm your readiness for government contracts.
Are you registered on the appropriate sites so you can accept a contract? Do you know where and how to register?
Are you registered with the state? Do you have a DUNS numbers?
Review the appropriate government contracting sites to ensure you are correctly registered, and your information is up to date.
Be prepared by taking these initial steps. This helps you to apply and accept contracts.
Know The Language
Every Request for Proposal (RFP) has its own language. Know the language you need to respond appropriately to the proposal. Properly research, the organizations that you're applying to. RFPs can be by county, state, or federal organizations. Look at previous awardees and pay attention to the language in the RFP and in the awardees' responses. Use that language. Most RFPs have a glossary at the end in the appendix. Use that to your advantage.
Government Contracts continue to provide me with the lifestyle of my choosing in multiple areas of my life. It is possible to create a work-life balance that supports you and your personal life. Although there are endless tips, these are a perfect starting point for transitioning into government contracting. Remember that self-disciple and diligence are critical tools for success. If you're interested in contracting, do your due diligence and seek support on your journey.
This information is provided by Lisa M. Wilkinson, LMFT Founder of Behavioral Health and Wellness Consulting Group, and LMW Therapy Services in partnership with Black Girl Ventures.
Behavioral Health and Wellness Consulting Group is a behavioral health consulting firm that assists budding entrepreneurs and existing business owners to increase profits, productivity, and flexibility to run their businesses.