Empowering Small Businesses: The Importance of Participation in Defense Contracts

Small businesses play a vital role in the defense industry, contributing innovation, agility, and diverse capabilities to support national security objectives. However, breaking into the world of defense contracting can be daunting for small enterprises, with complex regulations, fierce competition, and stringent requirements often acting as barriers to entry. Yet, understanding and leveraging the resources available to win government contracts can be critical for the success and growth of small businesses in this sector.

Small businesses received nearly $163 billion in federal contracting dollars in FY 2022, $70 billion earned by Small Disadvantage Business.

What is Considered a Small Business

As defined by the government, a small business typically refers to a privately owned enterprise that operates independently, has a relatively small number of employees, and generates modest annual revenue or sales turnover. The specific criteria for categorizing a business as “small” can vary depending on the country, industry, and regulatory framework. Governments often set thresholds based on factors such as annual revenue, number of employees, asset value, or a combination of these metrics. Small businesses are often distinguished from larger corporations by their scale of operations, organizational structure, and financial resources.

Small Business Participation

At the heart of small business participation in defense contracts lies the recognition of their unique contributions and potential to drive innovation and efficiency. Small businesses are often at the forefront of technological advancements, offering specialized expertise and niche solutions that complement larger defense contractors. Whether it’s developing cutting-edge software, providing cybersecurity solutions, or manufacturing specialized components, small businesses bring agility and creativity to the defense procurement landscape.

However, navigating the intricacies of government contracting requires more than just innovative ideas and technical expertise. Small businesses must also understand the procurement process, compliance requirements, and available resources to compete for and win defense contracts effectively. Fortunately, a wealth of resources and support mechanisms exists to help small businesses navigate this complex terrain.

Small Business Administration (SBA)

One such resource is the Small Business Administration (SBA), which offers a range of programs and initiatives aimed at assisting small businesses in accessing government contracts. The SBA’s Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) provide free counseling, training, and assistance to small businesses seeking to compete for federal, state, and local government contracts. These PTACs offer guidance on various aspects of government contracting, including registration, certification, proposal preparation, and subcontracting opportunities.

Section 8

Moreover, the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program and the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program provide targeted support to socially and economically disadvantaged businesses, as well as veteran-owned enterprises, respectively. These programs offer contracting preferences, mentorship, and business development assistance to help small businesses compete effectively in the federal marketplace.

Other Helpful Organizations

Beyond the SBA, small businesses can also leverage resources offered by other government agencies, industry associations, and private organizations. For instance, the Department of Defense’s Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) provides advocacy, outreach, and assistance to small businesses seeking defense contracts. Industry associations such as the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) offer networking opportunities, training programs, and access to market intelligence for small businesses in the defense sector.

Online Platforms

Furthermore, technology platforms and online marketplaces like SAM.gov provide centralized portals for small businesses to register, search for contracting opportunities, and submit proposals to government agencies. These platforms streamline the procurement process, improve transparency, and facilitate access to a wider range of contracting opportunities for small businesses.


In conclusion, small business participation in defense contracts is not only critical for fostering innovation and competition but also for strengthening national security and driving economic growth. By equipping small businesses with the knowledge, resources, and support they need to navigate the government contracting landscape, we can unlock their full potential as engines of innovation and job creation in the defense industry. As such, empowering small businesses to succeed in government contracting isn’t just a matter of economic opportunity—it’s a strategic imperative for the defense and security of our nation.