Contract Bidding – How to Get Started with Public Sector Tenders

Jul 16, 2021Bid Management, Bid Training, Bid Writing, SME Champions, Tender Process, Tender Writing

As face-to-face networking has started up again, we’ve been visiting more groups to introduce Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) owners to the idea of contract bidding. While some are aware that it’s possible to win these public sector contracts, for many it’s seen as something that other people do – bigger firms, or those who have relationships with the organisation already.

In fact, there’s never been a better time for SMEs to get started with tendering. The government has a target of spending £1 in every three with SMEs, and many local authorities are looking to improve the circular economy, keeping spend within the area as much as possible. But how do you get started with contract bidding?

Finding Tenders

The first question many small businesses ask is, ‘Are there opportunities available for my business?’ If you think about the wide range of publicly funded organisations, all the things they need to purchase and all the services they need to procure you can imagine that most of the time the answer to that question is, ‘Yes.’

You can find out for certain by looking at two websites, both run by the UK Government. The first is Contracts Finder, and this website is for lower value contract bidding (up to £118k). Larger contracts are listed on the Find a Tender portal. A search of these sites should soon let you know whether bidding is a viable option for your business.

Assessing Opportunities

Bidding requires a commitment of either time or money (read more about the true cost of bidding), depending on whether you put the bid together in-house, or you get a freelancer or consultancy to work with you. That’s why we recommend a thorough bid/no-bid review to make an informed decision as to whether the opportunity is going to support your long-term aims for the company. Contract Bidding can be a long-term prospect, tying your business into the arrangement for 3-5 years.

Bid Training

Although bidding is becoming increasingly SME-friendly, the procurement process is still quite a steep learning curve for most people. It’s a jargon-heavy endeavour and requires you to be able to read and understand both legal and technical documentation to get a full picture of what is required. After all that, you then need the ability to write persuasively, and often to design diagrams and graphics that help reinforce your points.

contract bidding There is a lot of good bid training out there, but the majority of it is tailored towards bid professionals and usually to those who work as part of a large bid team in a corporate environment. There isn’t a lot of training for people who bid either as a small part of their role, for example, sales, business development, or pre-construction, or for owner-operators who often end up taking on bid writing and trying to squeeze it in at evenings or weekends.

At Bid for Success, we’re trying to address that training gap. Starting with our fully funded SME Academy, which is email-based basic bid and tender training, and moving on through our ‘Get Bid Ready in Five Days’ free challenge, to our 10-week ‘Bidding for SMEs’ comprehensive training course or ‘train as you bid’ mentoring.

Free Contract Bidding Support

Not only that, but we also offer two days of free bid support every month to a new SME via our SME Scholarship. The two days are for you to use as you decide; you could get our support to review some bids you’ve previously submitted or build up a pipeline of tenders to apply for over the next year or more. Of course, you can also use that time to have us write a tender for you, or to have us mentor you to support you in writing your own.

If you think you could benefit from this free bid support, apply for our SME Scholarship 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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