As a business owner, your customers are likely mostly individuals or other businesses.
But have you considered selling your goods and services to your local, state or federal government? We have said previously that it’s best to have three different income streams to build financial resilience in your business.
Governments at all levels offer business opportunities for small to medium businesses (SMEs) through their procurement processes.
The benefits of selling your goods to the government? Access to government procurement opportunities can provide financial stability, which in turn encourages the growth of your business.
Highlight your advantages as a SME
Government departments know that procurement provides a lever for achieving broader government objectives, such as improving small business development and economic activity in regional areas. So there are often policies in place relating to buying goods and services from SMEs or local suppliers.
As a business owner, you have several advantages ahead of large companies. SMEs often have lower administrative overheads and management costs than larger firms, which means that you may be able to compete competitively by offering lower prices.
Your smaller size may mean that you’re able to better deliver innovative solutions that will differentiate you from established, large market players.
Highlight the benefit of your responsiveness. You have shorter management chains and approval routes and can respond more quickly to changing market conditions.
As a SME you may be more willing to tailor a product or service to meet specific needs than a large firm selling established offerings.
You can offer more personal levels of service and a better relationship with the department.
Large suppliers may not want to offer specialist products or services due to limited demand, but you can capitalise on this by providing skills, originality and commitment in a niche.
Practical tips for accessing government business
Early engagement with the relevant people in government – directly and through notification of procurement activity – is central to enhancing your participation in the government marketplace.
Here are some practical tips for how to access government business:
- ensure that your website clearly communicates your business’ capabilities and contact details;
- ensure that your social media and other online channels are up-to-date;
- join industry associations;
- departmental websites often provide information for suppliers, including information on how procurement works in the department;
- look for contact details for both general procurement questions and specific opportunities and start making connections; and
- ensure you have evidence that your business is financially sound and capable of delivering solutions, including the ability to scale up as required; and
- ensure visibility of types of the suppliers involved in your supply chain.
The NSW government’s ‘Doing Business with your local Council: A guide for small businesses’ provides more tips and outlines each step of the procurement process. There are also useful and easy to use forms for small businesses to complete to ensure they are procurement ready.