Back in January I wrote a post called “The Importance of Talking the Talk.” It discusses how important it is for entrepreneurs to do their homework so that they are well-versed in the parlance of entrepreneurship, general business, and their industry so that they can mingle effortlessly, keep up with and add to conversations, and not be taken of advantage of.
At an event last week hosted by the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce focusing on public policy and how it affects small businesses, I was reminded of this fact as it applies to the government contracting world. A newcomer to the DC area, though not to entrepreneurship, was chatting with me and mentioned that one of the toughest things to contend with since his move to DC has been getting the language of federal government contracting down so that he can keep up with conversations in this area. He said something to the effect of: “With all of these acronyms and abbreviations I feel like everyone is speaking a different language that I didn’t even realize I didn’t know until I got here and was confused.”
I hear statements like that all of the time from successful business owners who are new to the government contracting space because it is a space notorious for its acronyms and insider phrases. Clearly, the confusion has nothing to do with these entrepreneurs’ intelligence or business acumen, but it does prevent them from making the necessary moves forward in the space.
Therefore, as a way of helping, I wanted to share this article from the Small Business Administration to help you get a handle on some of the most common government contracting acronyms: The ABCs of Government Contracting: Understanding the Acronyms.
I’d also like to add a couple acronyms and phrases to the list:
ORCA: Online Representations and Certifications Application – shows a company’s certifications and must be completed prior to any government contracting work.
NAICS: North American Industry Classification System – classifies companies by the industry in which they do business
SIN: Special Item Number – used to classify the products or services provided by a company beyond the NAICS code and used on GSA Schedules contracts
EPLS: Excluded Parties List System – shows those companies and individuals excluded from doing business with the federal government. Contractors need to make sure they are not on this list, none of their executives are on this list, and none of their subcontractors are on this list
I hope the list from the Small Business Administration (plus my few additions) help you talk the talk as you begin pursuing federal government contracting options for your small business. Good luck!