How to Lead a Small Business Enterprise Strategically – Nu Leadership Series

“ Choosing one’s leaders is an affirmation that the person making the choice has inherent worth.”
Linda Chavez

Over the long haul, successful small businesses must engage in some sort of strategic thinking. Recently, my consulting firm conducted a qualitative study on how small businesses can increase their success rates in government contracting. Let’s explore the results of this study. Contracting with government agencies can be very rewarding to small businesses.

The federal government has a mandate that federal agencies award at least 23 percent of their contracts to small businesses. Most agencies try to meet or exceed this requirement. For example, in 1994, the Department of Energy set a goal to have 25 percent of prime contracts go to small businesses.

Many small businesses dream about getting a large contract with the federal government. The US Small Business Administration explains that small business fail for a variety of reasons such as insufficient capital or unexpected growth. Many businesses don’t think beyond today’s contract and miss foreseeing the long-term ramifications.

Wacker, Taylor, and Means, author of The Visionary’s Handbook, advocate that businesses must manage their internal and external relationship to quickly adapt to changes. From my personal interviews in the study, I was amazed at the application of strategic thinking by these companies. Case examples of four companies involved in contracting with the federal government were analyzed in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. These small companies have been able to survive the turbulent times in the public sector; they have had a proven success record in securing million-dollar contracts in a government environment.

The study revealed several common threads for successful businesses in regard to government contracting. From the results, the investigation showed four critical tasks necessary to achieve this competitive advantage: (1) inspire vision, (2) define core competencies, (3) apply strategic thinking, and (4) connect with employees.

Obviously, it’s a myth that small businesses don’t strategically plan in government contracting. Strategic thinking involves recognizing and focusing on issues that are significant for decision-making. It’s more than just planning. Many of my interviewees analyzed the risks of each business decisions. Therefore, regardless of the size, businesses can apply strategic thinking to stay competitive.


Mitchell, R. (2005). Strategic Thinking. Received on June 6, 2006 from

Small Business Administration (2006). Are You Ready? Received on June 6, 2006 from

Wacker, W., Taylor, J., & Means, H. (2000). The Visionary’s Handbook. New York: HarperBusiness.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green