paul skurpski

We were pleased to host a webinar this morning featuring David Kriegman, author of Zero to a Billion: 61 Rules Entrepreneurs Need to Know to Grow a Government Contracting Business. The webinar focused on growth strategies for government contractors and was part three of our series on growing a profitable government contracting business.

Kriegman has had a successful career at large professional services firms such as SRA and Jacobs Engineering. During the webinar he gave specific suggestions on things contractors should be doing to ensure growth. Right off the bat, he told the audience that growth is critical and that everyone in the organization needs to embrace this. In order to grow, Kriegman noted that you need to beat much larger companies. “Bid jobs that are larger than any job you currently have,” he said. “Bid jobs that most people in your company do not think you can win.”

Kriegman acknowledged that this may be difficult for many companies to fathom and that management needs to ensure that people are properly trained and supported to do so.

So how do you address some of the obstacles to winning and bidding jobs that are larger than the firm? First, Kriegman said to note pipeline deals in the millions and not to the penny. This way it’s clear to everyone that the firm is going after larger opportunities to help it grow. It also acts on a psychological level where deals less than million appear as a fraction rather than a whole number. For example, a deal for $500,000 will appear as $0.5M, whereas a deal for $5,000,000 will appear as $5M.

He also urged companies to be cognizant of how they are solving the customer’s underlying problem. Asking them what keeps them up at night isn’t the right question nor is it strategic. What keeps people up at night are things that can go wrong such as a network outage and things that can get them fired. What growing contractors should focus on is how they can assist the client in what they are trying to achieve and the things that can help them be successful. What are the real underlying issues that are stopping them from achieving their strategic goals? You always need to be focusing on innovation and showing the client how you’re looking out for them.

He also urged growing contractors to stop playing by the larger company’s rules. “You need to do something that’s creative, unexpected and bold,” Kriegman said. “Be creative in how you will support the customer. Bring people in from all over the company if need be and train your people on how you are going to support these larger contracts when you start winning them.”

The hardest part, he said, is showing the value of the company versus just the people. It’s hard to do when there are thousands of competitors, and workers often stay with the contract even as it gets re-bid, but it needs to be done. Another area that he focused a lot on is the need to be known for something specific and that this may be a challenge for companies in IT that “do everything.” Find what makes your company special and stick with it.

You can download the full webinar here.