STEPHEN KELLEHER 
ASSOCIATE 
Smith, Currie & Hancock LLP
Washington, D.C.

In a recent year, more than 42 percent of all federal construction dollars were awarded to qualified small business concerns (SBCs). 

For federal construction work that has been performed according to the contract, the risk of nonpayment is almost nonexistent. Additionally, successful performance provides an invaluable portfolio of experience and industry contacts that can be used to pursue and secure future work—private or public.  

An SBC must operate with the utmost integrity when dealing with the federal government and other contracting parties, such as subcontractors or suppliers. Failure to do so can lead to an array of repercussions, including, but not limited to, the loss of small business status, suspension or debarment from government contracting, or civil and criminal penalties under the False Claims Act and other federal statutes.  

That said, the benefits can far outweigh the risks for small businesses willing to invest the time and resources to “do it right” in terms of a safety program, quality field work, and meeting the size and status requirements under the various Small Business Administration programs. 

ANDRA CAIN
FOUNDER 
Cain Contracting, Inc.
Columbia, Md.

Twelve years ago, as a small business entering the 8(a) program, Cain Contracting, Inc. wanted to become a strong company that maintains steady, controlled growth.  

The Federal 8(a) program does not have restrictions on the amount of work a company can take on or bond.  One reward of participating in the program is that Cain Contracting, Inc. could procure a significant amount of business in a short period of time. We maintained multiple jobs, across numerous states and with various government agencies.
  
With such great rewards, we experienced increased overhead expenses, such as office space, manpower and accounting services. These types of increases are to be expected, but can put a tremendous strain on any company. However, the risk of growing at such a rapid pace as a small minority-owned business enterprise causes a strain on cash flow, bonding capacity and a bank line of credit. 

Through the Federal 8(a) program, Cain Contracting, Inc.  became a very lucrative and viable business. With smart management, and a little luck, we are able to partner with large contracting companies—a reward that we couldn’t have imagined 12 years ago.

DANIEL J. SEYDEL, II
PRINCIPAL
Platinum Group LLC
Shelton, Wash.

First, in this competitive marketplace, some owners recognize the importance of utilizing local small businesses. From private corporations to government agencies, this interest in small business inclusion can be beneficial for companies seeking niche work in selective markets.

Second, small businesses are eligible for training through the Small Business Administration, the Professional Technical Assistance Center and several other organizations created to provide business development support services. Most training incorporates doing business with the government, certifications, niche markets, contract compliance, estimating, proposal development services and scheduling.

Third, small businesses are the largest body of employers across the country. With this sizable group, legislative and political power can be leveraged to be sure policies are consistent with the needs of small local businesses. 

Being a small business today is a challenging endeavor, but a small business can accelerate growth by embracing resources provided by local and federal governments and adopting best practices used by large vendors and contractors serving the same customers a small firm is targeting.