Something funny happens when I rattle off our most impressive clients: People wrinkle their noses.
That’s right. After I list off the large, sexy multinationals, I add that roughly half of our business is with the federal government. “That sounds awful,” they say.
But it’s not. It’s great.
As it turns out, the federal government, like any business, buys goods and services. And increasingly, the government is also calling on the private sector to provide the services and technology to address our nation’s most pressing problems.
So let’s cut to the chase: working with the government is great. But here’s what’s not great: women-owned businesses only account for 5% of government contracts. And this is an improvement.
“For the first time in history the federal government achieved the 5 percent prime contracting goal for women-owned small businesses. This would not have been possible without the President’s focus on establishing and implementing the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) set-aside program.” — The United State of Women
While this may deter many, I see this as a call to action.
As the government recognizes the need to work with more woman-owned businesses, more women-owned businesses need to recognize the power of working with government.
Most small businesses aim to be big businesses (or at least bigger). Ignoring one of the largest buyers of your goods or services is not just bad business — it means you are missing out on extraordinary opportunities to connect the dots between the public and private sector to address the problems that matter.
Five years ago, it would never have occurred to me that our client base would also include federal agencies such as FDA, HHS, ED, NASA, and EPA to tackle labor trafficking, global competitiveness, 21st century education, workforce development, pathogen detection, and the advancement of science.
With a contagious passion, unparalleled convening power, and the ability to stimulate markets to develop and scale solutions, the federal government just might be the best client you never thought you wanted.