Editor’s note: As the end of federal fiscal year 2013 approaches on Sept. 30, Dona Storey and other experts say that the fourth quarter of the federal fiscal year is the buying season for federal agencies.

During this important time, Government Product News has been offering tips to businesses on how to sell to federal agencies. Here are the views of John Shoraka of the U.S. Small Business Administration on this topic.

As a small business owner, have you ever wondered how you could market to the federal government and become a part of the more than $400 billion federal marketplace? 

While it’s not necessarily easy, and success is not guaranteed, thousands of small businesses have been able to break into the federal supply chain. For example, in FY2012, small businesses won roughly $90 billion in prime contracting dollars. 

How to get started?        

The first step is to register your firm and create a profile in the General Services Administration’s System Award Management (SAM) database at this site.

Registration is free and voluntary, but any small business interested in doing business with the government must register in the SAM. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) draws information from SAM to create a small business’ profile and capabilities for prospective buyers to search and view. This is important because both private sector companies and federal agencies look to DSBS to do market research.

The SBA Government Contracting Classroom (GC Classroom) is an online training destination where small businesses can acquire the know-how to participate in federal contracting. These self-paced courses cover everything from how the government buys to SBA’s various small business certification programs. Go here to learn more about the GC Classroom. 

How can I navigate the federal contracting arena to get contracts? 

Federal procurement opportunities can be accessed here. The site includes a search engine to help small businesses browse the latest contract solicitations. 

The SBA has Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) who counsel small businesses and make recommendations to contracting officers to reserve or set aside contracts for Small, 8(a), Women-Owned, HUBZone and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses. They also identify contracting opportunities for small businesses. A listing of PCRs is at this site.

Small businesses can also visit SBA’s Sub-Net database, to find a list of subcontracting solicitations and opportunities posted by large prime contractors and other non-federal agencies.  State and local governments, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities and foreign governments also use the database to identify small businesses.  This database can be found here. To learn more about SBA’s government contracting programs, visit this site.

John Shoraka currently serves as the Associate Administrator of Government Contracting and Business Development at the U.S. SBA. His team supports thousands of small businesses every year as they compete for more than $500 billion in federal prime contracts and billions more in subcontracts. In his current role, Shoraka is responsible for overseeing the umbrella office with jurisdiction over the agency’s offices of Size Standards, HUBZone, Government Contracting, and Business Development/8(a).

In this video, SBA shows small business owners how to sell their products or services to the federal government.