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Jun 29, 2021

What Makes a Good Capabilities Statement?

Time to read: 5 min

Your Capabilities Statement is a brief but essential document that serves as a leave-behind for your pitch. Your goal is to develop a memorable statement so that when a company needs something you provide, you’ll be the first person they think of.


Focused or General?

It’s tempting to be general when you’re developing a capabilities statement. You may want to cast a wide net so that viable opportunities won’t escape. But it pays to be focused. Potential clients aren’t going to be looking for cybersecurity in general—they’ll be on the hunt for a specific type. Similarly, they won’t need general access to the US Navy, but to a specific office within it. 

Assume that people to whom you pitch will remember just one thing about you—and be sure that you decide what that is by highlighting something strong that will make them call you. 



Make the structure of your statement simple and straightforward. This isn’t the place for a lot of text. And the farther down the page you go, the less likely it is that anyone will be reading. So you need to start especially strong. Your statement should contain the following, in this order:

  • “Capabilities Statement” should appear clearly at the top
  • Your company’s name and logo
  • Your company’s value proposition
  • A section for write-ups of past projects
  • Evidence of corporate maturity
  • Evidence that it’s easy to contract with you
  • Contact information

Value Proposition

Let’s be blunt: At the end of the day, people would rather not work with you. It’s in their best interests to do all the work themselves and keep all the revenue. So, to convince them to share their work, you need to demonstrate that they are more likely to win more and/or larger contracts by collaborating with you. You do this by presenting them with an excellent value proposition that explains your strengths and experience.

Your value proposition is likely to take one of the following forms:

  • You know people at the customer and your access will increase the odds of winning.
  • You are known for a particular skill, and your credibility in it will increase the odds of winning.
  • You can offer administrative help. Typically a cert, qual, or set-aside. 

Many new vendors lead with this—yet this is by far the least persuasive value proposition. Remember that there are thousands of companies with every set-aside, so you’re not differentiating yourself much.


Past Performance

Be concise. Say what it is you do, and identify what it is that will help you win and deliver work. Back this up with facts about your experience that should demonstrate that you have deep and useful relationships and experience in the field. The whole idea is to validate that you know what you’re doing in this market.


Corporate Maturity

Potential teammates may worry that if you’re inexperienced, you’ll get them in trouble by screwing up part of a proposal or work. They also want to know that they won’t have to spend a lot of time coaching you through the basics.

So how do you demonstrate in a Capabilities Statement that you know what you’re doing?

  • Provide the number of prime awards, IDIQs, and GWACs you have
  • Specify that you are DCAA Defense Contract Audit Agency compliant 
  • Specify how long you’ve been in business
  • State your facility clearance

Is It Easy to Contract with You?

This section lets both government and potential partners know that you’re easy to access and have been validated by experience.

Here, you’ll want to:

  • List any socioeconomic set-asides you have
  • Provide your DUNS number
  • Name the IDIQs and GWACS you mentioned in the Corporate Maturity section
  • List your NAICS codes

Finally, provide your contact information.


Less is More

The purpose of a Capabilities Statement isn’t to get people to work with you, but to get them to meet with you. That means you need a clean, eye-catching document. Use a 14-point font. Indicate your client base with logos, not write-ups. And, if you sell a product, feature an image of it.


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