A few years ago, I chatted with a Maryland entrepreneur after he won the Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year award. He runs a highly successful translation business whose main clientele is the government. He provides translation services to the Department of State and Department of Defense, among others.
But he struggled during the early days of his business. According to him, it was not easy to get a single contract from the government. He went door to door in the offices of the State Dept talking to every possible official he could talk to about his services. He had to exhaust all his contacts and referrals to be able to get his foot in the door. But once he got in, things became easier.
The government is a huge market, and many small businesses focus on this market. However, navigating the bureaucracy is not easy. There’s the problem of finding the right party to contact regarding your proposal. There’s the set rules that governs the process of how government issues contracts.
A new book entitled “Seven Secrets for Negotiating with Government” by Jeswald W. Salacuse aims to provide anyone dealing with the government the knowledge, skills, understanding and practical advice on how to get favorable response from the government. The book doesn’t focus solely on businesses, but to anyone who is dealing with the government — from those applying for a building permit for the local zoning board to trying to sell software to the Department of Defense.
According to the author, the 7 secrets for negotiating with government are these following principles:
- Governments DO negotiate with private parties about anything.
- Governments are NOT all-powerful in their dealing with private parties.
- Governments are NOT united monoliths in those dealings.
- Governments DO NOT seek only to advance the public interest in their negotiations.
- Governments ARE susceptible to influence techniques by private parties.
- Governments DO accept third party interventions in their negotiation with individuals.
- Government decisions, once made, ARE open to renegotiation
The article “How Small Businesses can Successfully Do Business with the Government” lists some of the tips from the book.