22 Dec How a Small Company can Win its First Contract with the Big League
Landing your first contract with one of the biggest firms out here can be difficult, especially if you are self-employed or a small business. Of course, signing a big client will open doors for you and bring credibility. But, getting there seems rather far-fetched. Or does it not?
Truth is, times have changed and larger companies, including government bodies, show a distinct interest in collaborating with smaller teams. Finally, the value of these often faster and more flexible smaller groups of people, as well as their passion for delivering excellence is recognised.
Still, you may have a hard time convincing the big league for a chance. So, what can you do to prove your start-up is perfect for the job? Know key facts.
1. Size is not Important
To begin with, don’t start this dance thinking that clients will just ignore your small business just because of the low head count. What large organisations actually care about is one’s ability to deliver. Show them that your start-up is financially robust, equipped, and qualified and you ‘ll be on the right side of the road. Yes, demonstrating these is harder for a small business than a larger one. But, rest assured, if you are all the above, you won’t lose a pitch for being small. So, prepare yourself.
2. Join Forces
Partnerships are critical to business growth, especially when there is a need for international expansion. So, get big in a partnership. This will allow you to pitch lists that would have otherwise been out of your reach AND make you more credible in the eyes of the big fish. It means that you can deliver in their market, which is a huge deal for them.
Before deciding on a partnership with a firm, first consider your strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, you should pick firms that complement your business. To avoid things to be one sided, avoiding discrepancy is a must. So, make sure both parties have something.
How can you do that? Work with the potential business partner on a live client opportunity. If everything works out fine, sign the dotted line.
Tip: Before you sign a contract, have it reviewed by a specialist. They always work with your best interest in mind.
3. Pitching Time – Play with your Good Foot!
As a small business entrepreneur, you have both weaknesses and advantages that other larger companies don’t.
Every so often, a pitch document will reveal that a company is looking for the wrong thing. This is your opportunity to get an edge. Your larger competitors will most likely be intimidated to raise this. You, on the other hand, and only if you feel it’s right, can inform the company about that concern.
If you can, why not increase your chances of being selected?
That aside, as a small company, you can react faster and be more flexible than larger firms. This is because small companies usually focus on building solid relationships with their customers.
Another important factor to consider when pitching is decision criteria. RFP (Requests for Proposals) usually contain these. Make sure you don’t just cut and paste, which is a common practice of many large firms. Your pitch has to be specifically tailored to these criteria. Be strict and don’t give anybody the chance to doubt about you.
4. Avoid Waste
The point is – since you don’t have a pitch team yet- to be smart about what you are pitching for. If, for example, you are half-way through a pitch and realise that you are not qualified enough to win, just get out the soonest possible. This is NOT typical of a big company, so take advantage of it!
5. Payment Terms
They are equally important to price. So, it is critical to know when you can expect payments. Often, large customers want payment terms that suit them. However, this could be bad news for you and cause cash flow problems. Bottom line, know where you can go down. And, most importantly, if the deal is not right, be prepared to walk away.
What to do if you Lose? Of course, find out why you lost. This is valuable feedback. Ask for a formal interview with the person that was leading the project.
As a start-up, it might take a while before you draw some income. But, know that there ARE companies that see trusting a small company with a deal worth thousands or millions of pounds as an opportunity.
What matters in business is dedication, passion, and energy. Not everyone will see those in you. This is why it is important to build advocates the earliest you can. Concentrate on building something that is not out there; something that the business world needs. Undoubtedly, some people will notice that drive and will give you the chance you need.