Jerry Evans

Capturing Federal Contracts as a Small Business

This book is dedicated to my wife Katie and my children Riley, Chloe and Cooper for putting up with all my late nights doing proposals, and time away from the family traveling to conferences and customer meetings.

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Executive Summary

In the current fiscal environment of reduced federal budgets, the ability for small businesses to grow and win more government work, both as a prime contractor and as a subcontractor, is becoming more and more difficult. Gone are the days when a small business could rely on winning small business set asides or being added to a large company team just because of their socioeconomic status without solid marketing and capture activities. My background is in the federal market space, specifically Intelligence and Department of Defense. Therefore, I will commonly refer to marketing as the business development process or a structured capture process that I feel is needed by any small businesses to win work in the federal market space.


There are many books dedicated to the mechanics of marketing and capture activities within the federal market space. Most provide very detailed processes, such as the Shipley Proposal Guide(1) that details their 96-step Business Development Process, and the Shipley Capture Guide(2), which a small business doesn’t have either the resources or time to put in place. I have had the opportunity to work for both small and large companies. In the large companies, I have worked for, such as Hughes, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, McNeil Technologies, AECOM and Engility, I have had the luxury of dedicated federal contract capture resources, including Business Development (BD) personnel, Capture Managers, and Proposal Mangers to support very large government contract opportunities which are tracked and marketed typically for more than a year. When you have the luxury of a year or more to work your capture, many of the detailed processes can be and are used. Nevertheless, as a small business these resources and the ability to work a full capture plan a year out is difficult to say the least. In this book, I will try to provide the basic business development and capture processes a small business can and should implement to help increase their ability to win more work both as a prime and a subcontractor.


(1) Proposal Guide, for Business Development and Sales Professionals, Third Edition, Shipley, 2008

(2) Capture Guide, Winning Strategic Business, Shipley, 2008




Specific Approach to Capturing Federal Contracts

I have found that in many small businesses, the business development and capture process is both “trial by fire” and “on the job training.” Most small businesses start out using personal relationships and either win work due to their personal experience in the market, including duty as government or military staff, or by being added to a larger company’s team, again often due to the owners' personal relationship with individuals at that large company. Even as a small business grows, many of their “Business Development and Capture Managers” will typically be the same person, and that person comes from their current work force of Program Managers or technical staff. Most small businesses do not spend the money to hire trained or seasoned business development (BD) or Capture Managers, nor do they send them to industry training, such as Shipley, for the roles they are asked to perform, mainly because those formal training courses require a large commitment of overhead funds and time away from the office.

I have been successful because I have had the opportunity to work with large, medium and small companies. I have attended formal training and have been able to modify the best practices of BD and capture activities through courses provided while I was at larger companies like Lockheed Martin, Engility and those that Shipley teaches. At the smaller companies, I have worked for I had to modify these same skills within a framework that a small business can execute. I would strongly recommend that small businesses provide training to their BD and capture staff, such as those provided by Shipley. 


Appendix A(Appendix BAppendix CAppendix D

The following chapters highlight the 6 capture phases, which I have tailored and modified for use by small businesses. I have based the content of the slides from my professional experience and training I have received at various large companies to include the following Shipley Business Development classes:
• Capturing Federal Proposals
• Writing Federal Proposals
• Managing Federal Proposals