Joint ventures can be extremely powerful in helping small businesses capture larger government contracts. Yet, few small businesses know how they work, and even fewer understand the critical timeline and milestones required to have everything in place in time to capture those large opportunities.
In this article, we will discuss why understanding the timeline is so important if you want to leverage your JV for a big win.
Based on my years of working with hundreds of small businesses, I’d say that most of them don’t understand the competitive power of JVs. Seems like a no-brainer: if you lack certain assets or capabilities, find a business partner who has them. Together you’ll be a formidable competitor capable of taking on a larger project at a lower risk to the government. Needless to say, procuring agencies like that. Still, many small businesses can’t fathom how they can leverage “this JV thing.” Those small businesses who do buy into joint venturing, often face a different challenge. These businesses have the right mindset and commitment; however, when it comes to implementation, things go awry.
MISTAKE: Waiting until the solicitation is out before setting up your JV. It is common for businesses to wait until they see the solicitation before seriously considering teaming and joint venturing. This may seem like a reasonable way of doing things. After all shouldn’t you first establish whether you can even compete for and perform the work? The answer is “it depends.” Yes, if you are pursuing smaller opportunities that you can perform on your own. No, if you are targeting larger opportunities where you need a teaming partner to help you win and perform on the project.
Joint ventures are not formed overnight. It is a lengthy process that involves meetings, discussions, and legal work. Even though the time it takes to complete a JV may vary on a case by case basis, you should expect to spend significant amount of time…
- Identifying an opportunity
- Having multiple meetings with potential JV partners before getting the green light to proceed
- Engaging your legal counsel
- Creating a new JV entity
- Establishing a joint bank account for the new JV
- Registering the new entity with the IRS, Dun & Bradstreet and the System for Award Management
- Obtaining SBA or VA approval for the JV if you are planning to pursue an 8(a) or VA SDVOSB/VOSB opportunity.
In addition, if you are trying to partner with a large business to pursue a set-aside opportunity, you must apply for and be accepted into the SBA’s 8(a) mentor-protege program or All Small mentor-protege program before the joint venture submits its initial proposal.
Clearly, by the time the solicitation is publicized, it is already late to start gearing up for a JV. Even if you already have a JV partner in mind, the likelihood of getting everything set up and ready to go by the bid or proposal due date is very low.
SOLUTION: Forecasting. Forecasting will give your firm advanced notice of upcoming opportunities and the time to plan accordingly.
Here are a few tactics your firm can employ to help you in forecasting:
- Know your targets (i.e., the target agencies you want to do business with). This will help you focus your efforts, and get to know and connect with the buyers, small business specialist, and end users who can advise you on upcoming opportunities. You can find your target agency by doing some market research. If market research is not your forte, contact a representative at your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center. They can help you free of charge.
- Once you know your top target agencies, start asking the agency’s small business specialist about any big opportunities (such as IDIQ contracts) which may be coming up for competition in the next year or two. This is by far the best practice if you want to get accurate and relevant information for your forecast. You can also ask them for a copy of their agency’s procurement forecast; however, this document is usually not 100% accurate. Still, you may find it useful in helping you identify upcoming opportunities.
- Finally, you may have some luck in searching the Agency Recurring Forecast Site.
Once you know an estimated date that the next big opportunity you’d like to pursue will be competed, give yourself plenty of time. In fact, the more the better. It is quite common for a savvy contractor to plan a year or more in advance when putting all the pieces in place for their next big opportunity. I would strongly advise that you do the same.
Carroll Bernard, Govology Co-Founder
Carroll Bernard brings a unique 360 degree perspective to federal contracting, coaching, and training. For over a decade, Carroll worked as a buyer for the U.S. Navy, City of Vancouver Washington, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He has also provided mentorship, counseling, coaching, and training to hundreds of small businesses seeking government contracts as a counselor in the Procurement Technical Assistance Program as well as the U.S. Small Business Administration, where he served as a Business Development Specialist for the 8(a) program, Veterans Business Development Officer, and Primary HUBZone Liaison. Carroll is also a co-founder of Govology.com, an online community providing education to help small businesses succeed in the government marketplace. Govology offers live webinars, on-demand courses, and a podcast featuring interviews with experienced government market professionals, successful contractors, and agency representatives.
Phone: 888-643-4276 Ext 1 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.govology.com
GovCon Voices is a regular feature dedicated to providing SmallGovCon readers with candid news, insight and commentary from government contracting thought leaders. The opinions expressed in GovCon Voices are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Koprince Law LLC or its attorneys.