When you are a small, newly formed company, a significant part of tendering is actually just getting your name out there and testing the waters.
Bidding can be a valuable exercise, even if you don’t realistically expect to be selected. It is a good way to see how formal tendering works. It can also be useful in identifying where there may be gaps in your experience and your capability.
So, when you are small, you might go for a “scatter-gun” approach: bidding for anything and everything in the hope that eventually you might hit something.
When you are at the early stages of development in your business, this is common behaviour but it shouldn’t be a permanent strategy for growth.
There should come a point in your development when you know and are confident of:
- what you are capable of in terms of service/product delivery
- sectors you are successful in and what sectors you want to develop
- what you can’t or don’t want to do
- which types of clients you work well with and which are to be avoided
You should then become more discerning in your choice of what to bid for.
Think of it as being like an actor aiming to be a Hollywood A-lister. When they start out they will play the back end of a panto horse and do voice overs for pile cream ads purely because it gets their name out there.
The plan being, of course, to move from chasing every part to having scripts sent to them with polite notes from directors begging them to be in their picture.
Now while it might be unlikely that Spielberg will be asking you to star in his next movie, it is true that you shouldn’t want to continue to tender for the equivalent of the back end of a panto horse forever!
Keep Calm and Don’t Bid
We know that it takes a few years to build a business and consequently, it can be difficult to get out of habits formed when you began. But you must. Bidding is stressful, time consuming and puts a strain on staff who have other responsibilities.
Once you have established yourself with some regular clients and have confidence in your identity and service offering, bidding for everything and anything can then become an unnecessary distraction from the important business of service to your customers.
Think about having a much more targeted approach. Be more selective about the types of customers you want to work with. What services/products do you want to provide to them?
Think about your staff. Most small businesses don’t have the luxury of a bid manager or writer. It is therefore your front-line staff who must suffer the pressure of completing and submitting bids while keeping at their normal jobs as well. It can be demoralising for them to be repeatedly unsuccessful in bids (often the result of a scatter-gun approach). Their ability to continue providing excellent service to your customers will suffer as a result.
Do you want your business to suffer because your attention is consistently diverted in applying for every tender you see? Or would you rather focus on developing your customer relationships and on building an excellent reputation in your industry?
Being more picky, thinking about where you want to be, and looking for realistic opportunities can only result in:
- Less stress for everyone
- A higher hit rate in terms of successful tenders
- Business growing in confidence and reputation
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