Sage investment advice is to balance your portfolio from aggressive growth stocks to income stocks to fixed conservative bonds and securities. This gives you a blend of risks to ideally produce positive average returns over time. Likewise you want to develop a balance within your customer portfolio, while at the same time you have to manage your limited resources for business development thus it is easier said than done.
First of all, you should begin your business development with the agencies that your firm’s capabilities can tell the best story; match the agency’s needs and forecasted expenditures and also where you have begun or have established relationships with program management, contracting representatives or have teaming partners who have those relationships in place.
However, if you develop a single customer base you are subject to their budgetary cycles of good and bad times. For example, DOD, DOE and USDA are thriving under the heightened focus on security and funds received from the Stimulus Package. In contrast, NASA 2005 mission to return to the Moon and go to Mars has been drastically changed. If your focus was purely on NASA and particularly on the new launching system you now need to rush to find other opportunities.
However, if you had work in DOD, NASA and DOT then you could leverage your opportunities and balance out the risks of their respective ups and downs in the budgetary process in a positive manner. There are also other strategic reasons why you need to expand to other agencies, such as, acquiring new techniques or skills sets that your current customer may seek to pursue and you will already have the capability from your other agency experience.
For example when Homeland Security issued an initiative to go to a standard security clearance for all agencies and contractor employees, our experience with the Department of Energy was critical for doing this work at NASA. DOE because of their nuclear research and production has always required a high level of security clearances while NASA has not. Thus, we were in a position to leverage this security processing background within NASA, and it provided us new work and a more competitive edge when we pursued certain opportunities.
Finally, having a broad list of clients attracts top employees who seek to have multiple opportunities as well as teaming partners who respect your firm’s ability to become successful in more than one agency. It sends a signal that your firm’s reputation transcends agencies and demonstrates your broad value to the federal government.