The United States Government is the world’s largest buyer of products and services, according to the Small Business Administration, and they are legally required to do a certain percentage of their business with small companies in the United States. This is a tremendous opportunity for small business owners, but before you bid for government contracts, you first should obtain the proper information and registrations.

To get started looking for government contracts, you should:

  • Get a D-U-N-S Number. A D&B D-U-N-S® Number is a unique 9-digit code unique that identifies your company and is required for working with the federal government.
  • Register with the System for Award Management (SAM). This is a free vendor database that is essentially a catalog of vendors for the Federal Government to contract from.

When you register with SAM, it’s also important to know whether the government considers your company a small business, since it has specific standards for different industries. You can learn more about the official business size standards here. Depending on the industry, the size is based on either the number of employees, or the business’ revenue.

The SBA also sponsors certification programs that help small business owners who meet certain demographic requirements win government contracts. These programs include the HUBZone Program or the Historically Underutilized Business Zone Program, which works with small businesses in certain urban and rural communities, the 8(a) Business Development Program and the Small Disadvantaged Business Certifications, which both serve socially and economically disadvantaged businesses throughout the country.

In addition to these eligibility requirements, it is important to maintain a healthy D&B® credit profile because the government often will review it to help ensure that your business is not at risk of suddenly failing.