Public sector procurement is getting a facelift, with new regulations to increase transparency and accessibility in tendering processes. They’re also designed to encourage small businesses and startups to bid on available government tenders, which many have been reluctant to do, owing to the perception that you need to have a big company and a big budget to win public sector contracts.
Years ago that might have been true, when SMEs felt like little fish drowning in an enormous pond. It’s an entirely different kettle of fish these days. The government is actively encouraging SMEs and startups to enter the public sector market. One of the ways it did this is by removing the emphasis on price in public tenders and assigning extra weight to value.
The truth is that SMEs can sometimes provide better value more quickly than larger enterprises with wheels that turn more slowly.
So far, the trick is getting small businesses to want to bid on government tenders; to see all the benefits that winning public sector contracts provide; and to take a leap of faith and announce to national and local authorities that they’re ready to up their game.
There is a second trick, however, and that is to …
Find Local Government Tender Opportunities For Small Businesses
The easiest way to find local government tenders is to register on a contract finder or portal. A good contract finder, like Supply2Gov (S2G), has an extensive database that sometimes exceeds the government’s contracts finder in the UK. Portals are constantly updated so that you always know about the latest government tenders.
Independent contract finders typically include feedback on past contracts, as well as alerts for upcoming tenders. This is in line with the government’s commitment to make public sector contracts more visible and available to SMEs and startups.
According to regulations, public tenders in the UK worth over £12,000 must be published. These low-value tenders provide the perfect opportunity for small businesses to get their feet wet in government procurement. Completing a few small projects successfully can give them the confidence to take on new government contracts with bigger challenges.
How To Win Local Council Tenders
There are several steps that SMEs can take to win government contracts.
1) Get Accredited
Government bodies, as with pretty much every hiring or procurement company in the world, place great stock in accreditation. An accredited supplier gives the impression of being more professional, more capable, and more trustworthy than non-accredited businesses.
However, accreditation must come from a reputable source. One of the most trusted and reliable accreditation providers is the SME Certification Centre. Centre accreditation indicates credibility, compliance, customer and employee satisfaction, and good community relationships.
You can choose between three standards or any combination of the three: Sustainability, carbon footprint, and environment.
There are two primary collaboration types: Collaboration with large enterprises and collaboration with other SMEs.
- Large businesses don’t always have the full suite of services tenders require, so it’s not uncommon for them to outsource/subcontract these areas of specialisation to SMEs and startups. Piggy-backing like this provides SMEs with insight into how UK government tenders work. It also marks the beginning of healthy business relationships and partnerships, as SMEs get to know other big players in the industry.
- By the same token, SMEs don’t always have the full suite of services required to win public tender contracts. It’s helpful to join forces with other SMEs that fill in the gaps to provide a more extensive, well-rounded service package. Collaborations like this enable SMEs to bid on tender contracts that would ordinarily be out of reach.
3) Use Social Media
There’s debate about the value social media plays in public contracting, with many believing that it plays little to no role in the tendering process. The exception is LinkedIn. According to Gov.UK, this happens to be true with many government departments, including Business & Trade; Digital, Culture, Media & Sport; Environment, Food & Rural Affairs; and Health & Social Care.
However, Twitter is also fairly widely used. The Ministry of Defence has three Twitter accounts, @defenceproc, @dstlmod, and @DASAccelerator. The Small Business Commissioner and Public Procurement Review Service also have Twitter accounts, @SB_Commissioner and @govPPRS.
It’s a good idea to include social media marketing in your government procurement plan so that you keep abreast of tendering and procurement news and developments and use the knowledge to enhance your opportunities to win tenders.
4) Support Local
Applying for lucrative government contracts in and around your local community achieves two things; Saves costs and increases social value, especially if you support local businesses.
SMEs are leading the way for local community support, according to John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain – a recognised accreditation for homegrown supply and purchasing. Pearce says that 95% of the manufacturers they work with are SMEs. This is particularly important because 80% of consumers and 90% of buyers prefer products, services, and works that are British-made.
For the initiative to work properly, it’s essential that local councils become more conscientious about advertising contracts in a manner that facilitates tender search processes and promotes participation in public sector bidding.
5) Local Contracts Database
We mentioned it above, but it’s so important that we’re mentioning it again. Databases that provide access to real-time government contracts and tenders are invaluable for SMEs and startups.
S2G has a reliable database that is popular with public sector suppliers because more buyers choose to advertise their contracts on the site than on the official UK tenders portal.
Why Choose S2G?
Supply2Gov publishes public sector tenders across a range of industries, from Defence to Healthcare to IT and Cleaning. Our easy-use portal helps SMEs new to government procurement cut their teeth by having contract opportunities delivered directly to your door via our tender alerts function.
Those with a great deal of experience also benefit from automatic contract alerts because they don’t have to trawl the sector to find relevant SME tender opportunities. They can continue developing their core functions and procurement procedures so that they are primed for contracts that come their way.
Whether you’re new or experienced, you can benefit from the range of services S2G provides by registering on the site. Registration is free with paid packages to grow your reach. Contact us now and discover just how much we can boost your performance.