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How to seize growing opportunities for small business to supply government

Don Jones, who helped developed the NSW Small Business Commission’s Tender Support Program says government procurement has changed a lot in the past decade or so and there are now more opportunities for small business.

“Small business gets a lot better crack at things. The work is spread around a lot more between different parts of government and the opportunities are more varied. You also get certain opportunities to get work that aren’t open to big businesses,” Jones says.

The Tender Support Program includes a free online course, available through TAFE, which teaches small businesses owners and operators the basics of how to tender for government work.

The four modules in the online course cover the key topics involved in getting government work, including how to qualify to tender, where to find opportunities, how to put in a competitive bid, and how to be a successful supplier and keep the customer happy.

The course can be completed whole or taken in parts, so has value for those who already have some experience supplying to Government as well as new starters.

Jones says one of the common misconceptions about working with Government is that it is all about offering the lowest price.


“Most public servants will tell you it’s only half of what they’re judging you on. Your ability to demonstrate that you’ve done this sort of stuff before, to demonstrate you’ve got some capability is also very important They want to be sure that you can do the job.”

For that reason, having good documentation and references to demonstrate a business’s capability and track record is key to winning contracts, something the course shows businesses how to prepare and provides templates for.

The NSW Government’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) and Regional Procurement Policy allows Government departments to directly procure goods and services from an SME or regional business up to the value of $150,000 and government buyers are encouraged to look to their local suppliers first. “The NSW Government is doing a lot to help regional and small businesses, which is a good thing,” he says.

Don’s tips for working with the NSW Government

  • A winning tender is not all down to price. Government also wants to be confident you can do the job. Make sure you factor in all your costs into a tender, such as insurance.
  • Keep good business records and be structured and disciplined in your approach to tendering and supplying
  • As in the private sector, the direct approach can help get you noticed. Offer to meet face to face with potential buyers in government.
  • Also look at supplying to larger businesses that have government contracts and are looking for smaller businesses for their supply chain.

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