Shifting Focus: It’s Not About What You Don’t Have, But What You Can Do

August 16, 2023 | Business Development, Government













At a project’s inception, it is easy to get caught up in what we don’t have: the right subject matter expertise, cutting-edge technology, or the perfect team, for example. This also rings true for pursuing opportunities as a government contractor. However, a shift in perspective–what we can do with what we have instead of focusing on a lack of resources–can lead to transformative results.

1. Knowledge: It’s a Mindset

Knowledge, or the perceived lack thereof, can be a daunting barrier. In the realm of government contracting, knowledge doesn’t just refer to understanding a particular subject, but also understanding the intricacies of governmental processes, regulations, and stakeholders. This can indeed be challenging. However, the right mindset can help bridge this gap.

Here are some of the wisest words I’ve heard from one of my mentors: “You’re an expert in anything you choose to be an expert in.” This mindset helps turn perceived weaknesses into strengths. So you’re not an expert on a topic today? With dedication, you can be tomorrow.

But where does one begin? Enter technology.

In today’s digital age, platforms like Google serve as vast oceans of knowledge, accessible at our fingertips. Not knowing something isn’t a barrier anymore; it’s an opportunity. Every query typed into the search bar is a step towards expertise. Harness this resource and gaps in your knowledge will shrink dramatically. 

I don’t at all consider myself a technology expert, but others I associate with do. The only difference between me and them is one simple thing: Instead of asking someone else to show me how to do something with my phone or computer, I “Google” the issue. Family members often come to me with technology questions–and when they do, I jokingly say, “Why do you think I know how to fix that?” They reply, “Because you understand it.” My response is, “No. I’m just not afraid to get on Google and study the problem.” Fear is massive when it comes to technology. People fear it, so they don’t even try. As we continue in this new economy, those unintimidated by technology will have a higher level of success. 

2. Technology: Making the Most of Available Tools

Technology can also be available when we don’t think we have the tools to do the job. We see ads for all these tools that will automate our lives, like Smartsheet, Monday, Motion, and Zapier. These tools are amazing, but it’s easy to over-appreciate the “latest and greatest.” However, the best tech doesn’t necessarily mean the shiniest object on the market; it means the right tool for your unique situation. And since resources may be limited for whatever reason, it may require you to look for something else. 

For those who feel the sting of not having high-end, paid tools, there’s a silver lining. The digital era brings a plethora of free resources tailored to various needs. Google Suite, for instance, offers a collection of tools that can handle everything from data analysis (Google Sheets) to design (Google Slides). While these might not have all the bells and whistles of their premium counterparts, they are robust and capable in their own right. It’s all about leveraging what’s available and making it work for you. Furthermore, these tools can help you figure out your processes first, which is key. Don’t buy high dollar tools until you first develop your work processes. Expensive technology cannot replace a process. 

3. Human Capital: Scale According to Your Strengths

Government contracts often come with high expectations and, at times, limited resources. The vision of a vast team may not always align with reality. However, this reality is not a limitation but an opportunity.

Especially in government contracting, where accountability is high, a lean, dedicated team can often deliver more value than a vast, disjointed one. The goal should always be to align the project’s scale with the team’s capabilities, ensuring that every member’s strength is utilized efficiently. Every milestone achieved, no matter how small, signifies a step towards delivering value to the public.

Completing a project is not about sprinting to the finish line but ensuring steady progress. Moving forward, no matter the distance, signifies growth and development. As it’s often said, it’s about progress, not perfection.


There will always be something more you desire: more knowledge, better technology, a bigger team. However, the key lies in a shift of focus. Instead of dwelling on what’s missing, maximize what’s available. Government contracting just adds layers of responsibility and scrutiny to the already challenging landscape of project execution. 

Finally, there will never be a “perfect” time to take on a new project, start a business, train for a race, or get an advanced degree. The key is to have a plan, try to identify roadblocks–and just start!

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MYTH: Since the amount of goods and services the government buys is not affected by a economic downturn as private industry, the best time to begin selling to the government is during a recession.

FACT: Developing an effective government business development strategy usually takes years. Waiting until the economy is in recession to pull the trigger on a plan can doom it from the start as this strategy takes time and resources to develop….items that seem to be more scarce when the economy is in a downturn.