Veterans Business Resources

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Understanding the Checklist; Part 5

Don’t reinvent the wheel.  Spend some time researching proposals.  Learn the basic elements of a proposal and the kind of information typically included in each element.  I’ve already listed some places where you should be able to find examples.  If possible, get your hands on examples of winning proposals in your particular field/industry.  Most people believe that the Government is more concerned with price than any other factor when it comes time to award a contract.  That might be true in some selected cases, but generally that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  The Government is looking for the best value.  Proposals are where you get to display your superior written communication skills and convince the Government that your company can and will provide the best value to them.  Remember, you can’t win unless you submit a proposal and give yourself a shot.  Don’t be overly concerned about winning or not winning.  The first several times might be tuff and very stressful to pull the solicitation together, but the process gets better and so will you.  Oftentimes people choose to have outside consultants write proposals for them with the goal of increasing their opportunity to win.  This can be an expensive undertaking and is an individual business owner decision.  To me, proposals are really where the rubber meets the road.  Everything before proposals is important, but unless you deliver the goods on the proposal, all the earlier work is slightly diminished in importance.  With that said, let’s look at this another way.  If you’ll allow me to use a sports analogy; in professional baseball we call a batter with a .300 batting average a really, really good batter.  All that really means is he is getting 3 hits every 10 at bats.  When you are winning 3 of every 10 proposals you submit, you are doing really, really well!  You will not be there out of the gate, but you will get there over time, of this I am certain!

Notice how the marketing opportunities jump out and scream at you as you read through Part 5 of the Checklist again.

5.  Proposals:

  • Research other proposals to use as a template (target customers, SBDC, other small businesses, etc)
  • Submit proposals and follow up on leads.
  • Consider “no’s” as learning opportunities.  Ask why you didn’t get the job.  Ask for specifics so you can be better prepared next time.  Ask for referrals again!
  • When you get a “yes” and you certainly will, ask for specifics again!  Now, you want to know what you did right and why you won.  These are the positive actions you want to repeat time and time again!  Perform the job in a professional and timely manner.  Ask for referrals and testimonials.  Post past performance and success stories on your company’s Website and in company literature.  Let people know that they can count on you to get the job done.  Word of mouth of your company’s abilities will spread and more business will follow! 

Filed under: Getting Started, Government Contracting, The Checklist,