(1) Access to information: Find the opportunity, know where they are. Many business owners are pessimistic when it comes to finding prime and sub-contracting opportunities with private and public entities in Nigeria. The lack of transparency has fueled this notion. We can acknowledge that technology to an extent has helped to improve transparency on transactions and processes. Tools and platforms such as tender.ng among others, are some new innovations in the procurement space helping to foster accessibility and ease. Tender.ng, for instance, is an online tender notification platform that allows individuals and businesses find and respond to tenders. The platform publishes daily tenders from federal, state and local governments, private businesses, publicly listed companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and academic institutions. Interested? You may sign up for a free trial.
(2) Have a marketing strategy: Shade Ladipo, Executive Director of WeConnect International in Nigeria, an organization connecting women entrepreneurs to corporate purchasing organizations states, “procurement officers need to be able to find you easily.” This includes being present on relevant social media channels, having an active website, being responsive through emails and phone calls. As a business owner, you need to be accessible and not difficult to find. The easier it is for people to reach you, the better it will be for your business.
3) Cold Marketing Works, Just Do Your Research: “Cold marketing” involves being proactive by either calling or visiting procurement officers at random. However before taking this step, do your research by finding out the goods and services the company you are interested in doing business with needs, and how that fits in with what you provide. Do not just pitch your company but ensure that your services are relevant to their business needs.
(4) Ask the right questions: As an entrepreneur, it is crucial that you learn active listening skills so that you can ask the right questions. The company that you are interested in doing business with, do they have a vendors’ list? How do you get on this list? What is the process for getting on this list, what are the pre-qualification requirements? Who is the company’s supplier diversity officer? Do not be afraid, take the first step and be sure to ask all the right questions.
(5) Can you deliver? What is the point of going through step 1 thru 4 if you cannot deliver the required service? Make sure that you have your ‘ducks in a row’. Ensure that you have access to the financing needed to execute on the job; the staff and the skills required. Is your business registered? Have you filed your taxes? Do you have all of the necessary certifications and licenses? Are you insured? What does your capability look like? Is this your area of expertise?
Much of what occurs in the procurement space, either as a prime or subcontractor still takes place informally; much of it is built on personal relationships. As a business owner, it is important to learn the steps of how to obtain contracts with public or private entities globally. Again, remember that establishing relationships with key individuals within a company is crucial. Consider that access to public or private contracts could diversify your company’s earnings. Leveraging on technology tools for your business will enable accessibility and transparency, which may be good in promoting business competitiveness and growth.
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