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How to Write a Capability Statement: A Guide for Small Business Owners

What Is A Capability Statement?

If you only had 5 minutes to tell a potential client all you could offer, do you even know where you’d begin? This is where a capability statement comes in.

A capability statement is a one-page document that you can use as a small business owner to show customers and government agencies, at a glance, why they should partner with your business. Its main job is to show — and not just tell — (1) who you are and (2) what you can do for them.

Sure, they could visit your website. Sure, you can hop on the phone for 20 minutes. Sure, you can email back and forth answering questions. 

Or, you can stand out from among the crowd and help your customers know quickly if you have the capability to help them. It’s putting your skills and offerings upfront and center without the fluff in an easy to understand manner. A capability statement is a form of marketing. 

 

>>View Our Capability Statement As An Example<<

 

Is A Capability Statement Necessary?

You may be wondering, I’m a small mom and pop store, do I really need to have one? The answer is yes. There are three main reasons why you might want to create a capability statement. 

  1. Many government agencies actually require a capability statement from contractors as part of the bidding process. No matter your business, you want to be able to put your business in the mix. Cities are required to use a variety of contractors, not just the big ones. The decision-makers first want to know if your company is even qualified for the work. If they can’t assess it quickly, they will move on to other better-prepared companies who will make their jobs easier. A well designed and crafted capability statement will be memorable.
  2. It’s shareable. It’s a new version of a flyer that people actually want to keep. If a customer considers you someone that they want to recommend, what better way than to share a one-page document that a friend can look over quickly? It will answer their questions right away without them needing to pour over your entire website.
  3. It presents you as a professional. This is one document that most businesses do not currently have. If you have a capability statement, it shows that you are serious about what you offer. It also helps you get more clear on your business as a whole. When you list out every possible way that you help your customers, you can assess whether your company is focused or all over the place.

 

What to Include in Your Capability Statement

Generally, a capability statement for your small business should be ideally one page, no more than two, and depending on stated requirements, include:

  • Name and company branding, slogan (if any)
  • A concise summary description of the company
  • Core competencies
  • Any differentiators that set your company apart, including training and equipment
  • A breakdown of major services offered
  • Federal small business certifications
  • State certifications
  • If relevant, Major Clients (list the most important), Commercial and Government
  • NAICS Codes (You do not need to list out the descriptions)
  • General Company information, including
    • Registered company name
    • DBA
    • Year of incorporation
    • State of incorporation
    • Corporation type
  • Contact information
    • Website
    • Email
    • Phone number
    • Social media profiles

If you’re thinking, this is a lot of information to include in just a page or two — it is! But it forces you to get to the point. 

The goal is for someone to be able to skim and have the most relevant keywords pop out. People know what they are looking for so all you have to do is present it in a clear, logical, and organized way. 

Remember, it’s not what you want people to know about you. It’s what your customers need to know before they will decide if they will work with you or not. If this paper was all they ever read about you, does it show your business in the very best light? Do you seem trustworthy and capable? 

Capability Statement Visual Checklist

But how are you supposed to organize all of this information and make it look good? Here are some important design tips to keep in mind.

  • Make sure that your branding is consistent. Use your logo and your brand colors.
  • It needs to be saved in the PDF format. Some government agencies won’t open a Word document or other kind of file. It will also preserve your formatting so it looks the same no matter the machine someone is on.
  • Aim to make the capability statement one page. Two at the maximum and it’s only if you have a large number of certifications. 
  • Use color blocking where you can. Have some sections in a different color to help draw the eye and keep certain information read together.
  • Use bullets and simple tables. If appropriate, use icons to visually represent the service.
  • Make sure the fonts are easy to read. Avoid cursive fonts or anything too loopy. 
  • Check for spelling and grammar. Then check again.
  • Have multiple people read your statement. Preferably, someone on your team who hasn’t worked on it at all, and then someone outside of your company so you can tell how an outsider will read and understand. 

How To Get Started

If this sounds intimidating, don’t let it stop you. You’ll be so glad that you took the time to create one. All you have to do is break it down into a few steps. 

  1. Make a list of all the services you offer. 
  2. Make a list of all your certifications and NAICS codes
  3. Create your first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect! It’s much easier to edit with something on the page so just begin.

Good luck to you! And in case you didn’t know, creating capability statements is actually one of our favorite things to help clients with! Contact us to learn how to get started. We will help you make your company shine so you can get business with the right customers.

 

Capability Statement
SNR Creative is a boutique marketing and business development firm that specializes in helping business owners develop and execute winning marketing strategies and programs to scale and achieve greater results.
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