Common Paths for New Vendor Success
These are the most successful models we've seen for starting a new Government Contracting company
There are as many paths to success as there are successful companies, but after watching hundreds of entrepreneurs we've noticed that the successful ones have a lot in common:
Build a Megaphone
The entrepreneur builds an audience before they start their business (or builds it in the early days of their business). For example:
- Starting and growing a newsletter: The entrepreneur writes a weekly newsletter and sends it to their contacts. Readers forward the newsletter to new people and the newsletter's audience grows. Some entrepreneurs write original content and others aggregate other peoples' articles. We've seen both be successful.
- Start a Podcast: This is similar to starting a Newsletter but some people are better talkers than writers and some recipients would rather hear a conversation than read an email.
- Write an E-book: Newsletters and podcasts tend to go out weekly or monthly and are filled with short articles. Some entrepreneurs have a lot to say about one topic so write an ebook instead and then post that ebook on Amazon or share it with their community.
Where to publish: Whether they write a newsletter or create a podcast the goal is to attract an audience:
- Send their content to their email contacts list
- Publish on business social media (typically LinkedIn)
Goals: Regardless of what and how you publish the goal is to:
- Position the entrepreneur as an expert in their field
- Build an audience of potential partners and customers.
- Have an excuse to engage leaders at prime contractors and government agencies. (Side note: I've found that people are reluctant to take a 30-minute meeting but will be interviewed for 60 minutes on a podcast.
Build a unique skill set while in government/ at a prime
The entrepreneur became an expert in a niche product or service. Then, when they started their business, partners and customers hired the company to access the entrepreneur. Expertise examples:
- A niche type of cyber penetration testing
- Conducting government acquisitions through pitch events/challenges
- Foreign language training for Special Forces soldiers
- Products that track people's moods based on their social media posting
- Builds your brand (everyone knows you are the X, Y, Z person)
- You have a body of prior work to point to in proposals
- The government customers and primes in the space will probably know you
- If an RFP comes out that requires your special knowledge then primes are going to reach out to you
- Building expertise and your brand takes time
- You are hitching your wagon to one concept. If you become the expert on repairing horse-drawn carriages the world won't care about you when cars come out.
Spin Out of a Prime & Become Their Sub
This works best for entrepreneurs who:
- Are a junior or mid-level manager at a prime
- Have a set-aside
- Have strong customer relationships
How to execute:
- The entrepreneur tells their company that they want to create their own business and sub to them.
- They wait for an opportunity that requires lots of sub-contractors
- They pitch their boss on being part of the team as a sub rather than as an employee.
Pros: You stay close to a prime that knows and presumably trusts you
Cons: Your ability to execute is largely based on how your employer feels about you