Why you should understand set-asides
- They can reduce competition, helping you win: The government can “set a contract aside” for a a group, meaning that only companies with that set-aside can bid on it, which reduces competition making you more likely to win (assuming you have that set-aside)
- They can help customers work with you: If a customer wants to buy from you they can directly award a contract to you via a “sole source” award
- They are not a value proposition: Customers are not going to work with you BECAUSE you have a set-aside. A set-aside can help at the margins but will not drive your success.
Who can get a set-aside
- The designation applies to the company: Companies get a “set-aside” but qualifying for a set-aside often is based on the identity of the owner(s).
- Congress has identified 6 groups that can apply for a set-aside:
- Economically disadvantaged Women
- Service disabled veterans
- Minority members
- People who live and work in low-income areas
- The small business set-aside: Even if a company doesn’t qualify for one of the set-asides above they can still be a “small business” which allows them to compete for
- Only applies to small businesses: Only a small business can have a set-aside.
23% of federal contract awards: 23% of all contracting spend should go to small businesses (across all set-asides)
What you need to do:
- Start the application early: It can take months from starting your set-aside application to getting approved so start early
- Put your set-aside on your website, capability statement etc
- Do not lead with it: When you are pitching your company make your set-aside the last thing you say, because it is the least important thing about your company