Every year the Queensland Government procures close to $18 billion of products and services from the private sector, and as of July 2022, 30 per cent of this is to be procured from small to medium businesses.
That’s a cool $5.4 billion that should be landing in small to medium businesses’ pockets.
Recently we heard from Thomas Pollock, founder of Gov Ready, about the big opportunity State Government contracts offer small businesses.
He says there aren’t enough Queensland small businesses putting their hands up to supply and fulfil Government contracts, with only 22 per cent of contracts under $60,000 currently going to small businesses.
Thomas says a big reason why small businesses aren’t winning more government contracts is because they’re simply not putting their hands up for the work.
“There are a lot of myths that small to medium business owners tell themselves which stop them from submitting a quote in response to a government tender or contract,” he says.
“One big one is that they feel that they’re too small to service a government contract, but that’s simply not true. In 2020, 67 per cent of state government contracts in Queensland were less than $60,000 in value.”
Some examples of contracts that went to small businesses are pressure cleaning, pool cleaning, pest control, supply of equipment and marketing services. But our state government requires services across all industries, from hairdressing to restaurant management to boat ramp cleaning and everything in between.
The majority of state government contracts – 60 per cent – are made public via the QTenders portal, so if you’re not already set up there, that’s the place to start. You can set up an account and select the industries that are relevant to you, and get email alerts when new tenders are posted on the portal.
With that in place, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of winning government business. Here are a few tips Thomas shared with us during his workshop at the Hub.
Respond to the criteria
It sounds simple, but to ensure your response to a tender is considered eligible, it’s important that you actually respond to the criteria asked for in the tender response. Furthermore, abiding by word limits is critical. If you go over a word limit by a single word, your application will be disqualified. This may seem harsh, but the government has to ensure it’s an equal playing field for businesses applying, so abiding by the criteria is essential.
Thomas says that 60 per cent of applications don’t conform to the criteria and are immediately excluded – a huge missed opportunity.
In the case that the tender requires a level of insurance that you don’t already hold, Thomas says it’s OK to say in your response that you’ll acquire that insurance if you’re successful in winning the contract.
Show your evidence
In most cases, tender criteria will ask for businesses to show examples of similar work to what’s being requested. Having case studies and examples of previous work up your sleeve for this will help to reduce the amount of time it takes you to respond to tenders and help you to show your capability in these areas. So if you make a capability statement in your response, make sure you back it up with a case study, testimonial or an example of your work.
Another opportunity to boost your contract response is to include third party endorsements. This includes accolades such as awards won (shortlists and finalist status counts too!) and client testimonials. Awards can be specific to your industry or location – for example, the annual Lord Mayor’s Business Awards, which recognise business excellence in Brisbane. The recognition adds to the credibility of your business, as the awards are required to do due diligence on your business feasibility.
Boast about your small business status
Contrary to popular belief, being a small business (less than 20 staff) can actually work in your favour when tending for government contracts. Because the government has set a minimum spend for small businesses (30 per cent of total spend, as mentioned above), purchasing officers will be taking small business status into account when choosing successful applicants for tenders. In some cases, this will be specified in the assessment criteria and the weighting of criteria.
Admittedly, responding to government tenders and contracts does take time, but with the opportunity that is presented, it is surely worth the investment.