Sell to the Government

7 steps to doing business with the government

  1. Look locally. Contact your city and county public works departments to find out how they publish bid opportunities.
  2. For state and national bid opportunities, get your business certified.
    • Self-certifications: The federal government recognizes small businesses (SBE), women-owned (WBE), and disadvantaged (i.e. minority) businesses (SDB). The SBA has established two widely used size standards for small business:
      • Fewer than 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries, and
      • Less than $7 million in average annual receipts for most nonmanufacturing industries.
    There is no formal certification process, but on request, you need to provide proof that you satisfy the size and for WBE and SDB’s the ownership requirement.

  3. Even if you are not certified, register on SAMS and with the State. The federal government uses SAM (System for Award Management). You can register at You can do a search on existing registered businesses at

    To sell to the state, register as a Vendor at
  4. Look for large opportunities and sign up for email notifications. Federal opportunities for $25,000 and more can be found at
  5. You can find State bid opportunities at You will also find links to separate solicitation lists for Business Enterprise Program (BEP) certified businesses and Small Business Set-Aside (SBSA) certified businesses. Illinois sets a goal of 19% of purchases to certified BEP firms and all contracts for $50,000 or less are set aside for SBSA firms.

    You can sign up to receive Illinois solicitations by email at

  6. Look for sub-contracting opportunities. The government bid process can take six months. It is often faster to find sub-contracting opportunities with companies that have already received a government contract. You can find federal sub-contracting opportunities at

    Illinois bid opportunities and awarded bids can be found on this website.
  7. Network and market your business to find opportunities under $25,000. All purchases under $100,000 are supposed to go to small business. Federal agencies use credit cards for purchases of $2,500 or less. For purchases between $2,500 and $25,000, they must obtain quotes from at least three vendors.
  8. Get help through PTAC. PTACs (Procurement Technical Assistance Centers) provide free assistance in marketing products and services to government agencies. Visit
    You can also contact your local SBDC ( Small Business Development Center) for free assistance with government contracting. Visit
In the right panel, you will find additional resources, including:

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Free and low-cost help with government contracting

Small and minority certification  see more

Selling to the federal government  see more


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