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Where’s Your Cape?

Now, we’re not talking about your superhero cape. (But what you wear to work during a work-from-home-situation is none of our business.) We’re talking about your Capabilities Statement (better known as your cap statement). We bet that you need at least two hands, or more, to count the number of times you’ve been asked “what does your company do?” We would hedge a similar bet that you’ve been asked for a statement outlining your capabilities nearly the same number of times.
If you’re new to the GovCon space and you don’t yet have a capabilities statement, let us define that for you.

According to SBA.gov “A capability statement is a concise, one page document of your business competencies. Think of it as your business’s resume. Its purpose is to provide specific information that will convince potential customers to do business with you.”

A capabilities statement is designed to provide the foundations for you to win more work in federal contracting. It should be a living document that can change in small ways depending on the agency proposal you’re targeting, but the framework and design should typically remain the same. Much like a thriving business exists on a solid foundation, your capabilities statement should be a standalone document of what you do, who you do it for, and how well you do it. And beyond that, you should always know where to find it. Think, “at your fingertips!”

Do You Really Need a Capabilities Statement?

Short answer, “yes.” Long answer, “Yes, of course!” All joking aside, your capabilities statement is a document that does several things for your business.

Some of those include:

  • Simplifying information for government procurement officers
  • Providing subcontractors’ details quickly for Prime’s reference
  • Sharing pertinent information to potential clients and customers
  • Highlighting value drivers to current and future teaming partners
  • Sharing a branded and easily consumed reference to keep you top of mind

 

To put it simply, a capabilities statement is a must-have tool for successful government contracting business building and marketing.

Creating Your Capabilities Statement

Let’s dive into the pieces of a well-designed capabilities statement (cape statement).

A healthy cape statement will include:

  • Core Competencies – The services and products your company provides well.
  • Past Performance – The experiences you’ve completed that support your areas of competency.
  • Differentiators – The unique factors that set you apart from your competition in the direct space you’re working in.
  • Corporate Data – Relevant codes (DUNS, CAGE, NAICS), years in business, size, employees, diversity, etc.
  • Vehicles/GSA Schedules – Any awarded vehicles or schedules you currently work with.
  • Contact Information – Information regarding your location, phone, email, and points of contact.

When determining these pieces you may want to ask yourself the following questions to get the best sense of delivery for your business.

  • Why should the government do business with my company?
  • What facets of my company help our business to stand out from the crowd?
  • What do I need to create a memorable resume?
  • How can I best describe what I do in a succinct way?

Armed with the answers to these questions and your knowledge of a capabilities statement structure you will have the information necessary to draft your cape statement. But wait, there’s more! This is the stage of development where you can show off your design chops. We’re talking about that really great logo that went through 18 revisions, and a little of the personality that’s not typically showcased in a proposal or award. In this portion of the cape statement creation, style does matter. You’ll need your document to be error-free, clear, logically flowing, and memorable. Nothing is worse than having a document to showcase how great you are and it’s riddled with spelling or formatting errors.

If that feels like a lot to handle on top of your deliverable-packed-to-do-list, there are companies who specialize in the creation and delivery of capabilities statements. In fact, BOOST now offers the development and design of a 1–2-page branded capabilities statement for use in proposals and contractor agreements. If you’d like more information, please reach out directly to our Director of Marketing, Meg Kerns.

 

Three Things to Negotiate in Your Teaming Agreements (TA)

It takes a village here in GovCon land.  We all know that much of government contracting work is rarely done by one company. Prime/subcontractor relationships are the norm, frequently due to a requirement in the FAR or a need for additional capabilities. During the proposal stage, it is important to have an effective teaming agreement in place, that protects both parties, encourages mutual participation, and sometimes carves out workshare and (in some cases) rates.  Teaming agreements deserve attention from both parties with the prime keeping their business risk in mind, as well as the contract’s performance objectives and the subcontractor evaluating their role and terms of the agreement.

Here are three things to consider when negotiating a teaming agreement:

  1. Exclusivity – Primes usually look at exclusively securing all their team members (Subs) for a competitive bid, whereas subs desire the flexibility to team with others if the prime terminates them or the relationship goes south (i.e. target rates cannot be agreed upon).
    What’s the Solution?

a. For the prime – be willing to limit the scope of the teaming agreement to a specific element of the prime contract such as a task order. This assumes an IDIQ, GWAC or some other vehicle is at play, which is a popular government procurement type.

b. For the sub – Be willing to invest in your teammate by leveraging exclusivity to negotiate specific workshare. Seek a smaller scope for the coverage of the teaming agreement – the entire GWAC is not recommended – and focus on getting specific work outlined.

  1. Workshare – Primes want the flexibility to use discretion in assigning work (subs product or service not being available when needed, is a solid example).

a. Subs should negotiate for as much specific amount of work as possible (i.e. % of the work to be awarded in revenue, # of positions, first right of refusal or combination as applicable).

b.Ideally, subcontractors get an express statement that they will start work in the “X” areas identified upon the prime award. This strengthens the intent of the parties and the overall agreement.

  1. Intellectual property (IP) – It is not recommended to give away IP at the TA phase. Each party should own what they bring and walk away with only what they brought (i.e. use restrictions should be identified).

a. Joint IP should also have use restrictions tailored for the parties.

b. Both parties, the Prime and sub, will most likely have similar end goals here unless one party is knowingly bringing something to the table that is currently cutting edge, innovative, etc.

While these are some basic tips to keep in mind, do remember that there are often post-award rights and obligations.  Subs want non-negotiable specifics that will be identified in the subcontract. Primes want the flexibility to accommodate potential changes (i.e. government requirements, or pricing changes). Always try to be reasonable in these negotiations, good partnerships and agreements lead to good performance and long-term joint efforts.  This is a small industry after all, and the reputation of both parties is key to long term success.

 

BOOST LLC has pertinent experience in traversing the lines between subs and primes. If you’d like to discuss these relationships and the best way to navigate the proposal landscape, send a note to [email protected] to schedule a call.

Women in GovCon | Never Go Against the Family

This week govmates hosted their institute, Women in GovCon, Never Go Against the Family. Alongside expert speakers and one-of-a-kind networking, attendees had the opportunity to get real answers to the very real questions they’ve been asking about growth, teaming, exit strategy and profit maximization.

If you missed the institute, here are a few highlights.
Join govmates today and avoid the FOMO when it comes to the next govmates institute.

Panel 1: It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business (Growth)
Kim Pack of Wolf Den Associates, Jody Franklin of Global Services and Judy Bradt of Summit Insight

  • GSA Schedule: Have a smart vehicle portfolio.
  • WOSB Status, most businesses have a second or third classification that they leverage for business. It’s not all about the WOSB.
  • “Focus or go broke.” Do your research.
  • IDIQ: inquisitive growth strategies and new on-ramps are your options to get in with your capabilities.

Panel 2: Keep Your Friends Close, and Enemies Closer (Teaming)
Kathleen Kelley of Bean Kinney, Calvin Freeman of CACI and Amy Hernandez of BOOST LLC

  • Teaming Agreements set the stage for your relationships, but the subcontract agreement should be more specific in order for it to be enforceable.
  • Work-share with the big guys: know the Program Manager, they should be your main contact to express any work-share concerns.
  • If you’re a small business, know your skills and strengths. Know what you can specifically provide, know your worth.
  • It’s all about the RELATIONSHIP – If you lawyer up, then it’s not worth it.

Panel 3: I’m Gonna Make Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse (Exit Strategy & Profit Maximization)
Pete Ragone of SC&H, Greg Nossaman of the Mclean Group, Michael Lopes of Bernstein Wealth, Jennifer Mathis of One Degree Capital

  • There are options beyond “just selling.”
  • Build a business that can compete on its own without relying on a status or set aside.
  • Be focused on what YOU need to do. Don’t try to be all things for all people. Be mindful of your investments in the business (don’t over or underspend).
  • You can buy a CONTRACT or a COMPANY.
  • It’s never too early to set yourself up for the next steps based on a due diligence request list (HR, shareholder agreements, accounting, and others).
  • If you are looking to buy a company, don’t get so distracted that you forget about organic growth.
  • Regardless if you’re trying to buy, sell or whatever the next step is for your company, have your financials in order. Make decisions and preparations based on your goals and what you’re looking to achieve long term.

 

Thank you, one more time to the fantastic speakers, partners, and sponsors who help to make this event a success!

If you haven’t already, join govmates today!

Island Life

The ubiquitous aspiration of many a small government contractor is the $100MN revenue mark followed by the sale of their business (no doubt at a lofty multiple) coupled with the purchase of a private tropical island complete with oceanside beverage service.  Much like an old wives’ tale, the reality in such assumptions is lacking but always makes for good fodder at a Tyson’s Corner M&A networking event.

But as you grow your government contracting business, being an island unto your own is exactly the opposite of what your strategy should be. We all covet the position of being the Prime Contractor; subcontractors are always at a disadvantage when it comes to workshare, profitability and customer relationships. However, isn’t having a piece of something better than always going it alone, with zero to show for it?

The government contracting industry is awash with stories of mistreatment by partners, workshare-greedy primes and small businesses who think they simply can do it all.  Most have been subjected to an unfortunate teaming experience that has negatively influenced their thinking, or have bought into the idea that their company is the federal contracting equivalent of Superman and can do anything. Let me be the first to tell you, it’s not. It’s hard to do everything in GovCon, even more so as a small business. Teaming with others will allow you to CREDIBLY expand your capabilities, utilize other’s strengths and provide a more robust solution to the government.

How you choose to find and vet a partner is critical. Are you relying on your business development lead’s Rolodex (and why do we still say Rolodex)? Going to the same group of folks for the same boilerplate response is not innovative, nor compelling. Try relying upon a formulaic and methodical approach for teaming by expanding beyond your network to find other likeminded companies with the past performance or capabilities that you need for a winning bid. govmates, an online teaming platform for growing GovCons, can help with this. Once a potential teammate is identified, really vet the company.  Having a similar bidding style, rate structure and overall corporate culture is critical and will help in execution.

No one likes to go it alone.  There is safety (and revenue) in numbers, especially in the small business federal contracting community.

Need help finding a teammate?  Send me a note at [email protected]