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Owning a small business is full of trials and tribulations, and this year presented new challenges that no owner could have predicted. But every new day presents a new opportunity. If you are looking for your next step this fall, consider a great option that builds and keeps American running – government contracting.

The United States government is considered to be one of the largest customers in the world, and they are already buying from many Wyoming-grown small businesses. Government contracting is a process where federal, state or local governments will hire private companies to complete various projects. This is a great way to expand your market outside of the state. In 2019, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center said they helped almost 2,000 businesses win contracts, which in return was worth almost $119 million. Contracting is a valuable part of our economy and small businesses in Wyoming are no exception.

Recently, a few businesses that have won contracts are Kennon Products in Sheridan, which focuses on military and aviation manufacturing, and Haass Construction in Casper, which offers design and construction. While one might think most contracts are in the industries of construction, there is no limit to what the government is looking for. Contracts could range from needing catering, medical supplies, clothing and even lawn care.

To help support the future of contracting, the Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act with small businesses – like the ones in Wyoming – in mind. One of my priorities, making public a list of contracting partnership opportunities, was included in this defense policy package. Compiling this list lets small businesses know where to look for opportunities and helps them compete on a more even playing field.

If you are interested in stepping into the world of contracts, great places to start are the Wyoming Small Business Development Center, Wyoming Procurement and Technical Assistance Center, and Wyoming Business Council. These three organizations can help you learn about the different types of contracts and projects to figure out which route best suits your business size and capabilities. Typically I host the GRO-Biz Conference every year with these organizations. The GRO-Biz Conference provides one-on-one consulting and classes so you can leave with a solid foundation and connections to confidently enter the world of government contracting. While this year’s conference is postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, keep your eye out for it in the future. To become an eligible contractor, the Wyoming Small Business Development Center also offers services to help you become registered and certified. Once your business is government ready, there are long lists of opportunities out there waiting for the right business. If you are interested, I would encourage you to start the process toward winning a bid.

One day you could be selling to your local buyers and neighbors, and the next you could be selling to the U.S. Air Force and helping build our country. Don’t let this year’s troubles put your potential in a box. America is waiting for Wyoming small businesses just like yours.