A professional service firm such as an engineering design firm or construction engineering and inspection firm can be thought of as a rocket ship. Looking at the business as a rocket ship, it gets easier to remember and share the elements of developing a successful business.
Like a rocket ship a business has two basic parts, the engines that power the ship, and the guidance systems to set course. Our rock ship has five engines and four guidance systems.
Thinking back to when you first started your firm, if you did not go through the checklist you see below formally, you did so informally.
Subcontracting allows small and disadvantaged businesses to substantially impact the federal procurement preference programs. Large prime contractors receiving Federal contract awards valued over $700,000 ($1.5 million for construction) are required to establish plans and goals for subcontracting with small businesses, veteran-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, HUBZone small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses and women-owned small business concerns. More information on the government's subcontracting program can be found under the Federal Acquisition Regulations Subpart 19.7
Professional architectural, engineering, railroad, and utility companies who perform work for government agencies are generally required to have an independently audited overhead rate. You calculate this rate by dividing total allowable indirect expenses over direct labor but getting to this step and optimizing this result involves some effort.
It might seem as you're jumping through hoops to satisfy a regulatory body, but that's only partially true. If you're working in this space, your livelihood and success depend on your ability to be fully reimbursed for your eligible costs and make the right decisions on future contracts. These are just a few of the reasons why understanding and optimizing your overhead rate are vital.
The United States government spent $835 billion in contractual services in 2018, making it the world's largest employer for contract work. If you or your business can meet the government's requirements, you could end up with a healthy revenue stream. But every job has its pros and cons, and government contracting is no different.
Whether you choose to become a government contractor could involve a mixture of circumstance and personal preference. There are some who swear by this type of work and others who wouldn't touch a government job if offered one. Still, others have more government work than they can handle and long for something else.
While government contracting can be an excellent way to start or sustain a business, it's not without its downsides. As with any risk, you must evaluate all factors to determine if the reward is worth the effort. Here are some of the pros and cons of contracting with the government.
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