Determine if the State of Maryland Buys What You Sell
Buying is done at the agency and department levels. The best way to identify who is buying what you sell is to become a registered vendor on eMaryland Marketplace Advantage (eMMA), the state’s online procurement portal. Vendors may register for free to receive email notifications of solicitations posted by 70+ state agencies as well as those posted by county and city buyers. You will roll through the registrations process with ease if you read the FAQs and Quick Reference Guides before getting started.
Participate in the State’s Procurement Programs
Small Business Reserve (SBR) – The SBR Program is a race and gender neutral program that requires 66 designated state agencies/departments to direct 15% of their spending with registered SBR vendors. This is a prime contracting program. Vendors who meet the eligibility standards complete the online certification process through eMMA.
- Veteran-owned Small Business Enterprise (VSBE) – The VSBE Program creates subcontracting opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses to participate on statefunded contracts. The statewide goal is 1%. Verified veteran vendors who obtain veteran verification and meet the eligibility standards can complete the online certification process through eMMA.
- Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) – The MBE Program provides opportunities for socially and economically disadvantaged firms to participate in the state contracting arena. The statewide MBE participation goal is 29 percent. The Office of Minority Business Enterprise, housed within the Maryland Department of Transportation, is the state’s official certification agency. To determine if you meet the program’s eligibility standards, visit their website or attend one of their free monthly workshops to gain valuable information about the application process.
Detailed information on all three programs can be found on the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, & Women Business Affairs website.
Learn the Rules
Get familiar with the purchasing process and understand the rules governing Maryland’s procurement processes by reading the Annotated Code of Maryland (State Finance & Procurement Article 14) and COMAR Title 21.
Make sure your business is well-positioned to participate on government contracts. Tap into the many free and/or low-cost resources available to small business owners like financing and loan programs, skills training, business development, and much more. You may also want to connect with a small business counselor (offered at no cost by a number of organizations). Visit the Resource section of the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women’s Business Affairs’ website to learn more.
Marketing, business development, and sales strategies always apply. This is particularly true when performing as a subcontractor. Distribute your one-page capability statement(s) to prime contractors, maintain your website and collateral print materials, engage in social media, and never leave the office without a pocket full of business cards. The Internet offers a broad spectrum of ideas and strategies for marketing a small business.
Stick With It!
Developing a new customer in any market takes a lot of hard work. As a subcontractor, be prepared to invest 9 to 12 months into building a new relationship before winning any work. Persistence and repeated contacts with your potential customers will pay off in the long run. If you are bidding as a prime contractor, be sure to read the solicitation thoroughly (which means reading it more than once). Attend the pre-bid conference and ask questions if anything is unclear. Address every item in the solicitation when crafting your bid or proposal. Deadlines are non-negotiable, so submit early.
This article is featured in the 2021 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.