How to Start a DOD Contractor Company

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Both small businesses and large corporations can be eligible for DOD contracts.
Both small businesses and large corporations can be eligible for DOD contracts. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Military contractors range from large corporations to small businesses, providing arms, equipment and other supplies to the Department of Defense. To prime your business as a potential contractor for the DOD, conduct initial research about the types of products and services the department needs. Familiarize yourself with the policies and procedures that govern the DOD purchasing process, then structure your company to comply accordingly. You can either deal directly with the DOD or venture into subcontracting with a DOD prime contractor.

Register as Government Contractor

Obtain the DUNS number from the financial reporting company Dun and Bradstreet, which provides this Data Universal Number System. The DUNS number facilitates the process of verifying your financial and other information with federal agencies to determine whether to conduct business with you. In addition, you must register with the System for Awards Management, or SAM, which contains a database of contractors that do business with the federal government. Further, SAM requires that you obtain a Contractor and Government Entity -- or CAGE -- Code. This is a five-digit number that serves as a contractor identifier for firms doing business with DOD.

Determine Products to Supply

Identify specific products and/or services needed by DOD that you can supply, then determine the contract to pursue from available opportunities. You can get current opportunities by entering search criteria at the Federal Business Opportunities website. In addition, you can get subcontracting opportunities from DOD prime contractors in your state. You can use SUBNet -- a site managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration -- to explore subcontracting solicitations normally posted by large prime contractors as well as other non-federal agencies.

Comply With Procurement Procedures

It's important to prepare your company by familiarizing yourself with DOD contracting procedures. To do this, consult a Procurement Technical Assistance Center, or PTAC, near you. These centers provide workshops and other resources for businesses competing for public-sector contracts. Learn how to prepare a proposal, which should include a specific explanation about how your product or service meets solicitation requirements and any accompanying materials to help in decision making. The complete proposal must be presented to a DOD agency or branch.

Market Your Business

Develop a plan to market your business. Demonstrate your capabilities to the specific office interested in buying your product or service, using company brochures and other documentation detailing your expertise and record of success. Though not part of the bidding process, you can pitch in person or via email to the office originating the solicitation. Explain the benefits of doing business with you and the problems or challenges you can solve for DOD. You can also pitch to DOD small business program offices as part of your promotional activities.

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