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Tap into federal government's simplified contracting process

Starting this year, the federal government offers a single Internet portal for small businesses that want to do business with the government. The result: You'll have an easier time registering as a contractor and marketing your goods and services to the government.

The move integrates the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Pro-Net database of small businesses interested in government contracts with the Defense Department's Central Contractor Registra-tion (CCR) database at www.ccr.gov.

Small firms can now register once, with CCR, instead of registering with Pro-Net, too. Federal agencies will use CCR to find small businesses that are certified in SBA's minority contracting and Hubzone programs (for firms in "disadvantaged" areas).

Small businesses can also use the CCR site to perform market research and confirm their eligibility for contract-preference programs.

Improve odds of winning contract by partnering with a larger firm

Small businesses face a tough time breaking into government contracting. It takes hours and dollars to buy into the game. To increase your chances, align yourself with a larger business that's more experienced in federal or state contracting.

Larger partners will actually want this. Reason: The federal government is pushing big companies to show proof that they subcontract part of their work to smaller businesses.

One way to track down a partner: The Business to Government site, www.b2gmarket.com, which allows you to search a contract history database to see which companies have landed contracts or are bidding on contracts in your industry.

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