Small Business, Big Opportunities: How to Tap Into Government Spending on Small Businesses

If you own a small business, the idea of working with a large government entity may feel out of reach. At Bonfire, it’s not uncommon for us to hear the misconception that winning government RFPs is only possible for large enterprise organizations. The truth is, lots of government buyers are actively looking to partner with small businesses and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) to fulfill their open projects.

In this blog post, we’re setting the record straight on public sector partnerships with small businesses and DBEs. Keep reading to learn why it’s the perfect time for you to bid on—and win—government contracts.

Levelling the playing field for small and disadvantaged businesses

As a small business owner, you already know the value that small, minority-, and women-owned businesses bring to communities. The health of our local and global economies is closely connected to the health of our small businesses. That’s part of the reason why, in recent years, government agencies have implemented stronger policies to support the success of small businesses and DBEs.

Federal small business contracting requirements

Did you know the U.S. federal government aims to award 23% of all contract dollars to small businesses every year? That target is generally met and in the 2021 fiscal year the federal government actually exceeded its small business contracting goal, awarding 27.2% of all contract dollars ($154.2 billion) to small businesses. Not only are government projects openly available for you to bid on, but nearly one-quarter are reserved just for small businesses and DBEs like yours.

Federal supports for small businesses

On top of small business contract quotas, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) delivers several programs for small business owners who are also women, service-disabled veterans, and/or socially and economically disadvantaged. These programs are designed to reduce barriers to entry when it comes to bidding on government contracts:

Increased focus on supplier diversity

While federal small business development programs have been in place for some time now, Bonfire data shows that, in recent years, more public sector agencies have increased their focus on supplier diversity in order to engage small businesses and DBEs.

Government agencies are devoting greater attention and energy to social procurement that delivers value to communities on multiple levels—social, economic, and environmental. As a result, they’re recognizing the significant benefits of widening their vendor pools and engaging with small and diverse suppliers.

Our annual State of Public Sourcing report measures the uptake of these kinds of diversity initiatives by looking at the number of Bonfire client organizations that create DBE-related registration fields in their projects. As our 2022 report revealed, 16% of Bonfire clients in the U.S. use one or more diversity-related fields compared to 10% in 2021. That means client agencies have created 26% more DBE fields in their projects over the last year. The top three sectors tracking DBE supplier information are transportation (33%), higher education (20%), and k-12 schools (11%).

How small businesses can get in on the action

With more opportunities than ever available for small businesses and DBEs, here’s how your company can seize the moment and branch out into new government partnerships.

Find and bid on right-fit opportunities

One of the biggest challenges for many small businesses when it comes to competing for government projects is simply finding the right ones. Using a centralized bidding platform like Bonfire Premium Vendor, you can browse thousands of public projects across North America, using smart filters that narrow your search to reflect the opportunities that matter to you.

Premium Vendor makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to get in on the action and win government business. Just set up your account in a few clicks, find and follow bids that suit your business, access all the bid documents you need in one place, get helpful alerts and reminders that keep you on track, and submit your bid right in Bonfire.

Bid as a subcontractor

When it comes to winning government work, another way to get your foot in the door is by partnering with other vendor organizations as a subcontractor. By bidding on government business with a company that already has public sector contract experience, you can leverage their expertise in the bidding process and build valuable new connections that can lead to future work.

Helping your small business win big

Thousands of government contracts are waiting for bids from small businesses and DBEs just like yours. Now is the time to find and bid on the opportunities that matter to your business, so you can unlock next-level growth. See how Bonfire Premium Vendor can help.