Christoph Mlinarchik: How Improved Strategies Can Help In Doing Business With The Government
A nationally recognized and certified expert in government contracting, Christoph Mlinarchik shares his insights on how small businesses can improve their strategies in doing business with the government.
Christoph Mlinarchik was a former Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He also had previously worked in the Office of Naval Research and in the Washington Headquarters Services as a Senior Contract Specialist and as a Senior Policy Analyst in the United States Air Force.
With this background, he has trained over a thousand federal, military, and government contracting professionals nationwide. He has also negotiated, reviewed, and managed billions of dollars of government contracts over the course of his career.
He was also recognized as one of the “Top Professionals Under 40” by the National Contract Management Association. His article entitled “How Many Bid Protests Are Too Many” also gathered the title “Best Article of 2016” by the same awarding body.
Currently, Mlinarchik is focusing on his firm, Christoph LLC, wherein he provides expert advice in government contracting, professional training and instructions, and proposal consulting.
1. Set very specific goals.
Before building his own company, Mlinarchik worked for over five years to learn about contracting. This didn’t happen overnight. But what he did was he set specific goals toward his end goal.
“I could just set a goal when I’m a federal employee and say, ‘I want to have a side business. I want to be self employed one day.’ That’s not enough. What I encourage you to do is to be methodical about your intermediate steps to get to that goal.”
With this, you must ask yourself what are the things that you have to do that would take you to that end goal. What are the sacrifices you’re going to make? What are the lifestyle changes you’re going to do?
Then, ask yourself what your intermediate step was. In Mlinarchik’s case, he taught biographies are the best ways to learn from.
“If you can read the stories of great men and women throughout history, you can see what they’ve done and maybe you can emulate that.”
So, what he found was that professions who were well-respected in the field had a long illustrious career, published a lot of articles, and had a lot of speaking engagements which then led to them being authority in the fields. Just as that, he realized that that’s what he needed to do and so he did.
“I realized those are my intermediate steps. I need to start publishing. I need to have a diverse career path where I work in a lot of different positions where I buy different things and wear different hats. And that really kept me focused. And all along the way, I’m taking tangible steps towards where I need to be. And I think that really paid off for me in the long run.”
2. Respond To Sources Sought Notices.
Consider that large businesses are playing in this marketplace
too. They’re doing the same thing that you’re doing. So, in order to get contracts and be recognized by your target government agency, you should get in the game of market research and respond to sources sought notices or requests for information (RFI).
“That’s your one chance to influence how this will be evaluated, what type of source selection they’ll use, and whether or not there’ll be a set aside. And if you wait for the solicitation, you’re kind of too late.”
Although responding to it might not equate to being given a contract, it’s better to respond to these research because when there’s no response from RFIs and sources sought, projects are mostly given to large businesses instead of small businesses.
“Think about the trade off between you or maybe one of your employees taking an hour, maybe two hours to draft up like a page of recommendations on the source selection type. Think about multiplying that by how much value that creates down the road when you’re actually responding to it. It’s, it’s a no brainer. People really, really kind of are not as aware as they should be about their ability to influence the actual acquisition strategy itself.”
3. Have A Plan Of Action.
In a chapter of Mlinarchik’s book entitled “Government Contracts in Plain English,” he tackled how to communicate with the contracting officers. With this, you must have a plan of action or a call to action if you want to have a good reputation in front of these decision-makers.
“Know what you want when you get on the phone with them. A phone is worth a thousand emails and an in-person meeting is probably worth a thousand phone calls. So structure your time, be prepared.”
Besides, this is also an advantage because this will help you have a good relationship with your contracting officer which will really help you when you get in a tight spot.
“When you need that modification in three days and the normal turnaround is, is two weeks, you’re going to wish you were one of those contractors that has spoken on the phone with the contracting officer, has made a good impression, has always had everything organized and never wasted their time.”
If you want to watch the full video of the interview with Christoph Mlinarchik as he shares his insights on how small businesses can improve their strategies in doing business with the government, then be sure to click the links below:
054: Christoph Mlinarchik – Acquisition Policy Advisor, Attorney and Expert Witness