Small Contractors Initiative

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and BusinessUSA are collaborating with HUD in an effort to prepare construction contractors to obtain surety bonds and access capital to better compete for a broad array of federally funded work. One component of the effort, called the Small Contractors Initiative, is an eight-week course curriculum completed by HUD that was field tested through a pilot delivery in 2016 hosted by the Maryland Small Business Development Center. The curriculum addresses minimum threshold requirements for bondability. Contractors learn where they need improvement in their financial, accounting, and business capacity to obtain a bond and use the bondable status to pursue a diverse set of federally-funded and assisted contracts. Services include hands on training, interactions with bonding agents and business lenders, workshops, one-on-one business mentoring, and networking among the participating contractors, bonding agencies and the SBA. These services are organized and delivered by local small business development organizations, working closely with the SBA and representatives from the construction and bonding business communities.

Background Materials

Before you embark on delivering this training, there are several documents that you should look over. In particular, the “Read Me First” document will not only give you the background of the program, but it will also provide you with a proposed training structure and strategies for creating your cohort for the training. Other materials include an assessment to determine the type of organizations that you may be working with, an application to participate in the training, and a glossary that will define key terms used throughout the curriculum.

Course Curriculum Slides

Session 1: Introduction


Session 1: Introduction

This session gives a general overview of the Initiative and some background on what bonding is, why it is important, and how a small business needs to position itself to begin the process of getting bonding.

Session 2: Marketing screenshot


Session 2: Marketing

There is opportunity for business growth by contracting with federal agencies. This session explains the type of work available, explains when bonding is required, and how small contractors can best qualify to do work. The first part focuses on finding the right opportunities, and the second part explores improving prospects through partnering with other firms.

Session 3: Requirements screenshot


Session 3: Requirements

This session explains the basics of applicable Federal requirements. The first part reviews how certain Federal requirements apply to contractors, and the second part focuses on understanding labor law-related standards and reporting systems.

Session 4:Business Planning Screenshot


Session 4: Business Planning

This session focuses on the business planning necessary for getting bonded. It covers the details that bonding agents require from businesses and compares how that required information is also found in standard business plans. At the end of the session, contractors will understand how to draft a business plan.

Session 5: Financial Management Screenshot


Session 5: Financial Management

In order to obtain bonding and access to capital, contractor’s finances must be well managed. This session explains the basics of accounting systems used by construction firms. The first part focuses on construction accounting methods, and the second part focuses on reporting standards.

Session 6: Working Capital and Loan Applications Screenshot


Session 6: Working Capital and Loan Applications

SBA bond guarantees require sufficient working capital. This session helps firms determine their working capital needs, understand where to go for a loan, and how best to approach lenders. It is based on assumptions from Session 4: Business Planning.

Session 7: Bonding Screenshot


Session 7: Bonding

This session offers a more detailed review the basics of bonding. The first part focuses on reviewing the key principles in construction bonding and the bonding application process. The second part focuses on completing a bond application and reporting standards.

Session 8: Continuing Capacity Screenshot


Session 8: Continuing Capacity

This concluding session offers guidance for realizing the plans firms have developed as they have proceeded through the course. In the first part, the focus is on how to show continuing capacity to perform. The second part on will hone in on final preparations for pursuing bondable status.


Related Materials and Resources

Supplementary Materials

The sessions are meant to be delivered in person, in a multi-week course. In the interim between sessions, participants are encouraged to work on supplementary exercises and look over additional materials.