How to Write Your One-Page Capability Statement for Your Small Business

by Edgar R. Olivo

Creating a résumé to find a job is one of the first steps candidates do to attract employers. Small businesses must do the same to land a big contract by preparing a capability statement. A capability statement is a concise, one-page document of your business competencies. It serves as a résumé for your business. It provides specific information that will convince potential customers to do business with you. When written well, it will differentiate your business from the competition. Your capability statement answers the following questions:

  1. What does your company do?
  2. What are your core competencies (key skills, characteristics and assets that your company brings to the marketplace)?
  3. How is your company unique, different and distinct from your competitors in responding to the needs of the market?

A capability statement should be brief and only related to the needs of the buyer you are targeting. Typically, it is only one page long and single-sided. You can use two sides, but only if necessary. Your Capability Statement is a living document that will change over time depending on whom you plan to sell to.

Remember to save the document with your company’s name in the file name. Send your Capability Statement to buyers as a PDF only, not in Word, PowerPoint or another format. Many large agencies block Word and Publisher documents, so a PDF file is safer, usually smaller and will stay visually consistent when you email it.

Since you have limited space, be sure to emphasize your competencies, eligibility and past performance. This is your opportunity to shine a spotlight on the positives of your small business. Here are the five key areas included in an effective capability statement:

  1. Core Competencies: This section includes the key skills, expertise or equipment necessary to do the job. It does not need to include everything you do in your business. Use bullet points and short statements of your expertise as it relates to your target buyer’s specific needs.
  2. Differentiators: Here, you will list the unique factors and benefits of your products or services that set you apart from the competition. How is your business best suited for the needs of your buyer? Add a clear statement that relates to the specific needs of the buyer to help the customer understand why they should choose your business.
  3. Past Performance: This will be a list of key customers for whom you have done similar work. You may be asked for references, so ask permission before listing them. Pictures are worth a thousand words and can save you space if you find them relevant. If your past projects do not relate to the targeted buyer’s needs, do not list them.
  4. Company Data: Here, you will include one or two short sentences of your company description, including the number of employees and your capacity. Also, list your DUNS number, CAGE Code, NAICS codes, bonding capacity and any set-aside eligibility that your business holds, such as diverse business certification.
  5. Contact Information: You will then add your contact information, including website and specific contact name. Buyers will visit your website for more information, so make sure it is constantly updated and provide a “link” for direct access. Also, list your professional email because large buyers often block Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail accounts as junk mail. Your internet provider will typically offer professional addresses with your subscription.

Once you have your capability statement ready, have someone proofread your Capability Statement and get feedback before sharing it with your potential buyers. Be sure to check spelling and grammar! A well-written Capability Statement will open doors to contracting opportunities and set you apart from your competitors. It is worth the time and effort to make sure it is done right.

EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor, and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.

Para la versión en español de este artículo, haga clic aquí.

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