Dear Karen: I own a transportation company. Where do I find out about obtaining government contracts?
Answer: Start with Federal Business Opportunities, at http://www.fbo.gov. It lists most opportunities over $25,000 and includes navigation instructions.
Next, introduce your company to prime contractors who might buy your products or services. They can include you as a subcontractor within their existing contracts or on jobs they are bidding, said John C. Lauderdale III, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Government Contracts."
"Large companies always have goals for subcontracting to small businesses and are therefore open to buying your services to help meet those goals," he said. Relationships with prime contractors can help you establish relationships with the government buyers and get you on their lists for direct small-business buying opportunities.
• Define acceptable work behavior
Dear Karen: Our sales director has a very active social life that sometimes affects how focused he is at work. How do I address this?
Answer: Talk to your sales director about his behavior at work but avoid discussing his social life, said David Weiman, an organizational psychologist in Philadelphia. "Your sales director might feel like you're invading his privacy if you jump to conclusions and pass judgments," he said. "If he gets defensive because he thinks you're attacking his character, it will be harder to get him to acknowledge the problem at the office."
Small businesses often don't have formal policies outlining acceptable work behavior. If yours doesn't, consider remedying that now. It will make it easier to address unacceptable behavior in the future.
Small-business questions? Email Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.