Guest Blog

Envisioning the future of GovCon small business: Highlights from the 2024 Small Business Conference in Atlanta

Discover insights from the 2024 Small Business Conference, featuring 8(a) Unanet customer SSI. Learn federal market trends and strategies for GovCon.

The 2024 Small Business Conference was a dynamic and educational experience. The event was filled with fascinating insights and networking, offering a deep dive into the federal market outlook and the emerging trends for 2024 and beyond.  

I came away learning a lot, as the conference was packed with valuable information that will be helpful for small and midsize business (SMB) GovCons. Here are some key takeaways I found particularly enlightening. 

The state of federal contract spending 

The conference included a look into federal government contract spending, which saw a 9% increase in 2023, driven mainly by the defense sector. However, experts anticipate a tightening of agency budgets in 2024. What does this mean for small businesses who have their own tight budgets to deal with? If you’re looking to enter or thrive in the federal marketplace, you’ll want to stay agile and informed. Remaining up to date on shifting budget priorities and maintaining a flexible outlook as an organization will help increase your chances of being successful.  

Regulatory shifts and compliance 

We're seeing a pivot toward stringent compliance requirements. Under the current administration, the widespread use of Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts and an increased focus on research and development (R&D) programs set the stage for a more structured procurement landscape. This shift necessitates that businesses not only maintain compliance, but also stay ahead of the curve to capitalize on these changes. 

Key trends and economic insights 

At a high level, a few of the event speakers shed light on several key trends that are currently emerging within the federal government:  

  • The impact of budget uncertainties on contract opportunities. 
  • A small business-focused agenda shaping procurement policies. 
  • The importance of cybersecurity compliance in the wake of increasing digital threats. 
  • Despite declining inflation rates, the persistence of high-interest rates poses a challenge, with predictions of a potential decrease coming in May. 

So while there is clearly some uncertainty in the forecast ahead, GovCons must respond to this by doing what they can to prepare.  

Leveraging strategies for success 

The conference’s keynote speakers spoke about what it takes to achieve success as an SMB GovCon. They called out three fundamental factors that can help your business thrive: 

  • Differentiation. How can you stand out in a crowded market? What unique solutions can you provide?  
  • Compliance. Are you able, at the organizational and individual contributor level, to adhere to the evolving regulatory environment? 
  • Strategic partnerships. How can you build lasting connections with other companies to teaming up for the purpose of tackling opportunities and challenges? 

Agencies such as Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were cited as being particularly open to engaging with small businesses, offering a glimmer of hope for emerging enterprises. 

Opportunities and resources for small businesses 

Panel discussions were another highlight, underscoring the variety of opportunities awaiting small businesses. Notably, leveraging resources like tech advisors and mentor-protege programs can be game-changers for those looking to navigate the complex government contracting landscape. 

The 2024 Small Business Conference was an invaluable stepping stone for businesses like ours SSI is now better equipped to face the evolving federal contracting environment and we're excited to adapt to these trends and regulatory demands. Overall, there are growing opportunities for 8(a) small businesses in federal contracting, provided they adapt to evolving trends and regulatory requirements. The question you must ask yourself is: are you ready?   

Want to hear SSI’s success story about how the organization paved the way for rapid, exponential growth as an SMB GovCon? Read it here.