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Ten Steps to Government Contracts

Entering the world of government contracting may seem overwhelming at first. Complete the registration and planning process and start networking, finding partners and looking for business opportunities.

Be prepared when you find opportunities by having your paperwork in order. Follow these 10 steps to get started as a government contractor.

  1. Update your business plan for government contracting. Define your business, identify your goals, qualify your resources and determine how you will market your organization to government agencies and contractors. Your business plan can serve as your resume and help your potential customers and supporters understand your business and your goals.
  2. Identify your North American Industry Classification System, or NAICS, code.
  3. Use the SBA Size Standard Tool and determine if your business qualifies as a small business.
  4. Sign up for your business identification or DUNS number online or by or calling Dun & Bradstreet at 866-705-5711. This process normally takes one business day.
  5. Register in the Central Contractor Registry in the System for Award Management, or SAM, by providing general, corporate, goods and services, financial and point-of-contact information. It can take up to 10 days after you submit your information before your account is active. If you previously registered for a CCR, your information will transfer automatically into the SAM system. Update your information if necessary.
  6. Submit the Online Representations and Certifications Application, or ORCA, through SAM.
  7. Get a Commercial and Government Entity code. Your CAGE code is automatically created when you apply for your CCR, so make sure you record the code for future use.
  8. Familiarize yourself with the Federal Acquisitions Register, or FAR. Focus on Part 19, the section on small businesses.
  9. Identify business opportunities with resources like, where you can search for contract opportunities over $25,000, and SUBNET, where prime contractors and subcontractors connect to form partnership opportunities.
  10. Use your resources. Get help from the Small Business Administration and the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.
  11. Do your homework and gain a thorough understanding of the government contracting process. Visit the SBA’s Contracting page, talk with counselors at the SBA and PTAC, find a knowledgeable mentor through the SBA, the Military Spouse eMentor Program or possibly hire a consultant. Seek sage advice, receive good information and have funding to stay afloat until you start receiving government payments.

Visit the Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment section of the Employment Readiness lifecycle stage for more information on starting and growing a business. You can also speak with a career coach at 800-342-9647.

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