Despite, current procurement tracking methods at the federal level, it’s not easy to get a real picture of how small business fares within government contracting. However, a new report, Trends in Federal Contracting for Small Businesses, published by American Express OPEN’s Victory in Procurement (VIP) program provides some unique and interesting insights. For this study, 740 “active small business federal contractors” were polled during the months of October and November. Here are a few key findings from the first of four publicly-released summary reports:
- Small businesses spent more chasing federal contracts. Over the past year, the amount of time and money that active small business contractors have invested in seeking federal contracts averaged $103,827, an increase of 21 percent over previous year figures.
- Small businesses bid less frequently on contracts. Even as the average investment has risen over the past year, bidding activity has declined by nearly half. This includes both prime and subcontracting bidding activity. In addition, the average success rate for small business contractors (in both prime and subcontracting) has declined, indicating a more competitive environment.
- Try, and try again. Active small business contractors reported they had to submit an average of 4.4 bids before they won their first prime federal contract. Two-thirds of active small business contractors have performed on more than one federal contract, and, on average, it took them just under a year to win their second contract.
- Experience pays. Contractors with ten or more years experience have success rates of 53% on average. This compares to contractors with three or less years experience who have success rates of 20% on average.
Overall, the study highlights the fact that government contracting is not an easy, short-term strategy for small business. It takes commitment, work, and investment to succeed. On the other hand, for small businesses who know what they’re doing and/or are willing to make the effort, it is also clear government contracting can be a smart, highly lucrative pursuit.