If you or your company is new to the world of government grants for small business, one of the most difficult things is knowing what ducks to have in order before you even attempt your first submission for government grants.

Fortunately, our team at Gallium Solutions is accustomed to working with companies who have never pursued government funding. These insights will help you prepare your company for that first submission. These action items can also be completed well in advance of your first submission process, which we highly recommend. Crafting that first submission takes quite a bit of time and effort, and if you have these tasks completed ahead of time, the entire process will be much easier.

The first step in learning how to win federal contracts is to make sure the government understands that you have a viable company. This is not a subjective process but rather an objective way to establish that you are a viable entity that is eligible to do business with the government.

A very important point to note: the tasks outlined below are free for your team to complete. There are several entities that advertise via internet searches that will complete these tasks for a fee, sometimes a significant one. The links below take you directly to the government websites where no fee is charged.

Tell the IRS Who You Are

Obtain your company’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service. The EIN/TIN is a nine-digit number that the IRS assigns to organizations for tax purposes. They are essentially one in the same, but a TIN is assigned to businesses with employees. If you are already an established, operating company, you probably already have this.

Tell the Federal Government Who You Are

You will start by registering your company at sam.gov, the official government portal for pursuing government contracting. When completing your registration, make sure you mark “All Awards” as your Purpose of Registration. If you choose Federal Assistant Awards Only, you will not be eligible to win contracts. 

While registering, you can add your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes. These codes are self-assigned and help describe the type of business you do. Some government funding solicitations are targeted at certain NAICS codes. The NAICS codes your business uses can help you when searching for new opportunities for government grants and government contracting. 

At Sam.gov, you will also obtain a Unique Entity Identifier (UEI) number as part of the registration process. This 12-digit number, which is issued free, specifically identifies your company for the federal government. Note: Up until April 4, 2022, the government required all businesses submitting grant proposals to obtain a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number. DUNS numbers, which are issued free via Dun & Bradstreet, are unique, nine-digit numbers that specifically identify your company. DUNS numbers are no longer required for this purpose, but they can still be obtained and serve other non-governmental business purposes. DUNS numbers are used for a variety of reasons, such as providing your company’s D&B rating, assessing your company’s creditworthiness, or finding out more information about your company.

Once you complete your Sam.gov registration, you will also receive a Commercial and Governmental Entity (CAGE) code, which is one more way for the government to identify your company. This five-character alpha-numeric, unique identifier is assigned by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA).

Finally, regardless of what type of funding you want to start pursuing, at some point you will likely pursue SBIR/STTR funding. The SBIR/STTR program, also known as America’s Seed Fund, is administered by the Small Business Administration. Some non-SBIR/STTR proposals will request a SBC Control ID number as part of their Commercialization report.

In summary, here’s a quick checklist of the items we just covered that you should complete to tell the federal government about your company:

  • Register at sam.gov
  • Add NAICS codes
  • Obtain your UEI at sam.gov
  • Obtain your CAGE code
  • Start looking for opportunities 

If you're working with us, these steps will provide the basic information Gallium Solutions needs to know to start working on your proposal submission. We will gather this from you as an initial first step. As this step concludes, we will start working more collaboratively with you.

Tell The Federal Government About Your Team

Almost all submissions require information about your team. This is typically your Principal Investigator (PI), your company leadership (one of which may be the PI) and any outside consultant/advisors who will take on a primary role in the project. The PI is the individual that is primarily responsible for the preparation, conduct, and administration of a research grant, cooperative agreement, contract, or other funded project.

When working with clients, we like to maintain a library of clear and full resumes for all personnel that we can draw upon for different submissions. These resumes should include any academic publication lists, if applicable. For more visual submissions, such as slide decks, we also recommend aesthetically consistent, professional headshots. 

Some solicitations simply require a brief biographical sketch. With resumes in place to refer to, these are easy to create. 

Once this information is in place, you are ready to begin the search for your first submission opportunity. Gallium Solutions offers this service as an add-on service for our clients, making the initial steps even easier for those new to the government proposal process. Contact Gallium Solutions to see how we can help you prepare and submit your first government proposal.