Barriers to Bidding for SME Businesses

Jun 18, 2020SME Champions, Bid Training

SME Businesses are vital to this country’s economy. Our turnover accounts for more than 50% of the total, and we employ 60% of the staff. But, for many of you, the idea of putting together a bid or proposal to secure private or public sector business feels like an insurmountable challenge. As SME champions, we wanted to explore the barriers to bidding for SME businesses and try to put together some solutions so we can all succeed, together.

It’s Not on the Radar

For some SME Businesses, bidding just isn’t on their radar. Many small businesses start out as one or two people, who focus on trying to earn enough to support their families. In time, they take on other people, but the mindset doesn’t change, it’s about making ‘enough’ rather than growing your business. If you’re happy with ‘enough’ then that’s great; the trouble comes when you hit your income limit but still want more – that’s when you need a business development strategy and a growth mindset.

Alternatively, you might just believe that you’re too small a fish to swim in the ocean of bids and tenders, being unaware of opportunities like frameworks, dynamic purchasing systems, and sub-contractor arrangements which can all lead to increased sales. It might surprise you to look at your local councils tender portal and see that not all the contracts awarded are very high value; some services are provided by companies like yours, and if you can’t go it alone you might be able to partner with another company to secure the business together.

Overwhelmed by the Process

To the uninitiated, bidding is a complex process filled with jargon. If you hear about an opportunity to work with your local council, for example, and visit their website only to be confronted with acronyms like SQ, ITT, and talk of OJEU regulations you’d be forgiven for thinking that bidding is going to either eat up your time or your money; maybe both. Which brings us to…


For relatively small companies, seeking relatively small contracts, the cost of putting a bid together is a big consideration. Whether it’s the amount of time it will take you as an SME owner or employee, or the cost of paying an agency to do it for you, it’s a chunk of income that could be used elsewhere that is being committed to something with an uncertain outcome. What if you don’t win the bid?

The Answers

More than 70% of our clients are SME businesses, just like yours. We’ve developed multiple ways to support small business who want to expand, including:

Absolute Honesty

We understand that our success is linked to yours. Winning bids with you means you’re more likely to do business with us again and win us that word of mouth recommendation which has fuelled the majority of our own growth. We run our business with integrity, and we’ll tell you if we think an opportunity is wrong for you, and encourage you if we think it’s right.

Flexible Approach

We don’t have a prescriptive approach to the way we work with our clients, all SME businesses are different and will need different support to reach their growth goals. That might be you sending a completed bid to us for review, splitting the bid between your company and ours, us managing the process end-to-end or anywhere in between.

Reasonable Pricing

We’re open about our pricing structure and have a different daily rate for SME businesses. Our flexible working style means that whatever your budget, we can find ways to support you to meet your growth goals that aren’t cost-prohibitive.

Opportunity Scanning

Part of our regular activity is to scan the marketplace and identify opportunities for our clients. While some agencies will charge for this service, it’s something we offer as part of the package. We also share opportunities that aren’t right for our existing clients via our Twitter and Instagram feeds.

SME-specific Training

The bid management training that is currently available is aimed at bid and proposal professionals who work as part of a large team – it’s corporate. That means that it includes a bevy of processes and meetings that are irrelevant to bids being put together by SMEs where ‘bid manager’ is just one of several titles held by the MD or sales manager. It’s also very jargon-heavy.

We’re very excited to have put together an SME-specific training course, in association with APMP Vendor of the Year 2020, The Bid Toolkit. This eight-week course will help you to understand the bidding process from start to finish and put you in a better place to DIY your own bids. You can sign up to our training mailing list here for more information.

If you’re not sure that you’re in a position to think about bidding yet, then we’re offering a free 5 Step to Bid Ready challenge via our Facebook group, starting the week commencing 22nd June 2020. To find out more, visit the group.

Business Best Friends

We consider ourselves to be business best friends to our clients. We take the time to get to know you through our unique 15-point deep dive, and from then on we will do all we can to help you meet your goals for growth. We think all SME businesses deserve the opportunity to grow through bids and proposals – if you do too, get in touch today.

Adrian Corcoran

Adrian Corcoran is Managing Director and Founder of Bid for Success. Passionate about working with great businesses to win them new work, she and the Bid for Success team are here to help you with your bidding and work winning needs.


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