Falling in Gov

Rules of Engagement

The rules of conducting business with other companies and with consumers don't always apply when it comes to dealing with governments.

Nute emphasizes that you need to appeal to the service- and rules-oriented government mind-set. "They all share a belief that government spending and government activity can be used to better a community," he says.

Nute takes on the persona of a government employee. "If you're going to come in and try to convert us to online purchasing, online voting or any of these other things, you have to understand that what was free yesterday needs to stay free tomorrow," he says.

Maintaining that status quo requires creative thinking when developing a solid business plan. You can't make your profits by charging fees to citizens or suppliers.

Longer sales cycles also come with the territory. "You probably have to go through a lot of different departments and agencies within governments to make a sale," says Sharrard. "Governments aren't really looking for the return on investment that the private sector is." Technology start-ups in this area need to bring people onboard who are familiar with and can navigate the various levels of government.

At a time when many technology companies are on an economic roller-coaster, the stability of the government marketplace is appealing. But, as Sharrard points out, that same stability may also level the chances for the sky-high profits early B2G businesses were expecting.

Learning from the mistakes of predecessors like GovWorks.com is a must. Startup.com should be required viewing for anybody who is thinking about stepping into the e-gov ring. It's the well-grounded, savvy entrepreneurs seeking a consistent, reliable business opportunity who will be greatly rewarded.

The future of e-government will be determined with the melding of government initiatives, citizen demand, entrepreneurial offerings, and large companies' products. Entrepreneurs who can appeal to governments while still maintaining a strong profit base will find plenty of room to build start-ups.

Small technology businesses can tailor their services to the government market. In years down the line, Sharrad sees online government burrowing deeper into the private sector, which should create "seamless e-government" in a consumer-friendly environment.

The call for a few good entrepreneurs rings loud and clear. This is your mission, should you choose to accept it. And there's no better time than now to take it.

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE
Dot Gov: Where It's At

We've got you excited about e-gov. Now it's time to hit the Web and visit e-government right where it lives. These Internet resources will help get you started on your odyssey:

  • EGovLinks: It's big. It's kind of messy. But this clearinghouse for e-gov-related information is a great stopover for news and, of course, hyperlinks covering every imaginable topic.
  • Center for Digital Government: This national research institute conducts relevant surveys and reports and offers premium services for industry.
  • FirstGov: Official U.S. government portal includes connects to e-business and e-government information as well as links to state and local governments.
  • NIGP: NIGP stands for the National Institute of Government Purchasing, a membership organization focused on education, research, technical assistance and networking in the procurement area.

Contact Source

DLT Solutions Inc.
(800) 262-4358;
www.dlt.com

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This article was originally published in the March 2002 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Falling in Gov.

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