This week we continue the journey of breaking down the seven barriers making life difficult for small businesses to target and win Government contracts.
The second barrier is very easy to see, but it also stops many small businesses in their tracks. It’s capital (or lack thereof). Official Government contracts sometimes require certain conditions to be met by the winning bidder. It might be an expensive piece of machinery needed for the work. Perhaps a physical office is required in a regional location. Or you might need a piece of proprietary software that doesn’t come cheap. It’s right here that countless small businesses dismiss that possibly game-changing piece of Government revenue, primarily because they simply don’t have the capital lying around in order to buy that machinery or meet the requirement.
However, there are ways you can often tick that box without necessarily outlaying anything apart from some of your time. As an example, let’s say Government has a cleaning contract to be filled. In order to satisfy all of the requirements, the winning business needs to have a high-end machine capable of doing some heavy-duty work. You don’t have such a machine, nor can afford one right now. However, if you won that contract you certainly could find the funds needed, as winning that contract would open many doors, and not just financial.
For you to win the work, you need to prove to Government that you are compliant with the requirements, and best placed to service the contract. Government must be comfortable that you’ll have that big, fancy cleaning machine, serviced and ready to go by the time the contract is executed. That is the key: “by the time the contract is executed”. So, once you win the contract, you then purchase or hire that piece of machinery.
Be warned, though: empty “promises on paper” mean little to trained Government procurement officials. It’s imperative that you back up your words with facts or evidence. In this example, I would have a signed agreement in place with a company that supplies these high-end cleaning machines. On this agreement, it would clearly state that the machine will be purchased and delivered by XYZ date, with a condition that the sale only proceeds once you have won the Government work. I’d then include this documentation to support my submission. There’s my evidence.
Of course, this alone won’t see you rolling in government business; many other factors need to end up in your corner. However, using this evidence-based technique will enable you to bid for a lot more Government contracts than you would have previously. Your submissions will develop as you seek and receive feedback. Your offers will become more refined. Your pitches will improve. And with some work and a little luck, you’ll win your first piece of Government business. Where it goes from there is entirely up to you.
Times like we’re now witnessing call for small businesses to look at things differently; to challenge the way things have always been done; to find ways to not just sustain their businesses, but indeed grow them. Small businesses must begin to change their thinking and look for the very profitable revenue streams which are always present within government channels.
Thomas Pollock, CEO, THINQ Learning and author of “Winning Government Business: the 6 Rules and 9 Absolutes”