A guide to SMEs winning government tenders for business growth

There are many who believe that winning government tenders is only for large enterprises. Considering the high value of government tenders, SMEs and emerging businesses often shy away from it, believing that there is little chance of winning them. Let us debunk that thought.

As a small business in India, do not hesitate to apply to the latest government tenders. Government tenders add credibility and builds trust for your business, payments are in time, and ensures regular inflow of income for a longer time.

There is however a systematic process you will have to follow to apply to government tenders and be eligible for winning them. The government moreover has introduced special schemes and allowances to encourage SMEs to explore tendering opportunities to effectively help them grow their business.

In this article, we discuss how to find relevant government tenders that match your business needs and ensure that you give your best shot at winning them.

Registering on a reliable tender website

Before you apply to tenders in India you will need to find them. And there is no better place to find tenders than browse online on a reliable tender website or platform.

Tender websites are a reliable way to find the latest tenders online (central and state government tenders). It allows you to filter and sort tenders that match your business needs and view details on relevant tenders. These websites provide a collective list of latest tenders for SMEs to explore, making the process of searching for tenders less time-consuming and more relevant.

There are several tendering websites available (usually with a subscription plan). It is recommended to register for a website that offers:

  • Relevant tenders across government portals
  • Wide variety of tenders across cities, states, sectors etc.
  • Daily tender alerts to keep you updated
  • Options to view details, get tender information, and respond to relevant tenders online

Note: This is an information seeking stage, that is, you learn about the latest tendering opportunities and identify the ones you are eligible for and will help to grow your business. Though you can always visit the respective e-Procurement portals (CPPP), signing up on a website makes it convenient to get daily alerts and never miss an opportunity.

Researching tender opportunities thoroughly

A secret to making your tender application more suitable is to research the tender requirements thoroughly. Ideally, identify individuals in your company who would read and analyse the tender document, check eligibility, pre-requisites and specific requirements, timelines, tender value, and evaluate if your business is the right fit.

Government e-tenders require proper documentation and details, and there are specific government tender guidelines that must be adhered to when applying. Make sure that you do not waste your time, efforts, and resources on tender opportunities you are not eligible for.

Alternatively, do check for special MSME tender opportunities. There are higher chances of winning them as their eligibility and scope is designed keeping MSME capabilities (in terms of technology, manpower, and resources) in mind.

Prepare documentation for tender bidding

Before you bid for government tenders, ensure that you have all your documents in place. Ideally, have a checklist and plan how to approach the tender documentation process. Details like cost break-down, team expertise, previous experience, case studies, credentials, etc. will add value to your proposal.

If you do not have an in-house expert on tendering, it is best to seek external help.

There are several service providers who offer bid consulting services and it is recommended to take help to ensure that the tender documents are accurately, consistent, and properly filled in.

Writing a proposal for government contracts is not something that can be done in a jiffy. It is recommended that you have it checked thoroughly before submission.

Adopt a unique style of proposal writing

You are not going to be the only MSME applying for government tenders for startups in India. There will be competition from several others. So, ensure that you stand out from the beginning.

Apart from ensuring that you are eligible, and the tender documents are in place, follow these simple steps:

  • Prepare thoroughly to answer any questions or clarifications asked for
  • Ensure that your business is compliant in terms of safety and quality standards
  • Write articulately and confidently on how your business has the skills, resources, and capabilities required to fulfil the tender requirements
  • Share details and case studies of previous projects from the sector or category
  • Dedicate some time and focus on design elements e.g., the use of charts, graphs, images, infographics etc.

To bid or not: The way ahead for tender bidding for MSMEs

Government procurement contracts come with several guidelines and requirements that need to be factored in while applying for tenders. While it might not be possible to meet all requirements, SMEs can always select and apply to relevant tenders only.

As a best practice, if you are keen to explore government tendering opportunities, always stay prepared:

  • You know your business’s strengths and weaknesses, areas of expertise, history, profit margins, vendors, suppliers like no other
  • Refer to previous tender requests and prepare
  • Keep your documentation and answers to standard questions ready, and update based on the specific tender

Remember, the key to winning government tenders for small businesses lie in awareness, authenticity and preparation.

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