Best Practices

Loudoun SourceLink: How to Be Mentored by a Successful Government Contractor

Published Jan 28, 2014 by

Despite budget cutbacks and sequestration, the federal government awarded $83 billion in contracts to small businesses last year, and plans to spend about the same amount in 2014. One way to gain access to federal contracts is to participate in a federal Mentor-Protégé Program.




NASA, the FAA, several military branches and other federal agencies have an Office of Small Business Programs that administers a Mentor-Protégé Program. This initiative pairs executives from large defense contractors (mentors) with small business owners (protégés). There is no fee to become a protégé, but you must apply to participate. Mentors offer one-on-one, hands-on support to new businesses to help enhance their business and technical capabilities.

The types of small businesses accepted into the program are generally those owned by women, minorities, or service-disabled veterans, or that operate in Historically Underutilized Business Zones (Loudoun’s HUB Zone is located in Leesburg). Mentors include government contractors such as Boeing, Booz Allen, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Orbital and Raytheon.

“The small business industrial base has performed superbly for our Air Force in a number of mission-critical areas,” wrote Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz in a joint memo in 2012. “In fact, small businesses account for the vast majority of contract work performed for operational commands. In many cases, small businesses have employed business models that have saved the Air Force millions of dollars, produced key warfighter innovations, and provided agility and customer-focused service in an exemplary and highly responsive manner.”

The types of small businesses that have participated in the federal Mentor-Protégé Program include I.T., engineering, health care, telecom, robotics and circuit board and metal component manufacturers. Participants can have businesses that are up and running, or that are still in the early stages of getting off the ground. For more details about how to apply, visit the Mentor-Protégé pages of the Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Defense.


Content contributed by Lois Kirkpatrick, Loudoun SourceLink. Loudoun SourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S. SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.