If you’re a small business, the Government of Canada could be one of your customers. The nice thing about having the government as a customer is that you don’t have to worry about losing business if they move or close up shop. Selling goods and services to the Canadian government is a desirable step for small businesses, but competition can be fierce and strict regulations are in place you must follow to win these contracts.
Canada Wants Your Products and Services
Before applying for government contracts, it’s important to figure out if you actually have the products or services Canada wants. If it turns out you don’t, you might consider waiting until you expand your product or service lines. The nice thing, though, is that Canada is one of the few large organizations that buys from small businesses, even new ones, so you may have a chance to do business with the government. Canada purchases everything from office supplies to temporary help to software and even buildings. This means that you do have a chance to win government contracts as long as you’re capable of meeting the government’s specific requirements to seal deals.
That said, you’ve got to be realistic about whether you can actually supply an organization as large as the government. For example, if you make software, you should have no problem filling the government’s order because software can be reproduced digitally. If your company provides IT support, though, you may be limited by the size of your team. Once you know what your company is capable of, you can start learning more about the products and services the government wants to buy – also known as tender opportunities.
Discover Tender Opportunities
You can browse Canada’s database of opportunities to see if your company can to provide any of the products or services the government is currently seeking. You can also register to be considered as a supplier for standing orders. When the government needs goods or services valued over $25,000, they make public requests for proposals on the tendering website BuyandSell.gc.ca. If the value is below that dollar amount, the government sometimes chooses vendors they’ve worked with before. To win contracts under $25,000, you may need to directly contact the government agency you’d like to work with.
How to Get Registered as a Government Vendor
To apply for government contracts, you must register for free as a supplier in the Supplier Registration Information database. This registration assigns a procurement business number to your business and adds your company’s name and supply capabilities to the federal government’s supplier database. To register, you need a business number or GST/HST number. You must also have your legal name registered with the Canada Revenue Agency. Once you’re registered on the Supplier Registration Information database, government purchasers can see your public information and contact you to fulfill contracts. Many companies also register on the Centralized Professional Services ePortal, a database where government organizations find specialists and consultants who are experts in their specific field.
Prepare Your Bid to Do Business as a Government Vendor
Each bidding process is completely unique, but all include a document that explains how to place your bid properly, as well as the process by which your bid is evaluated. For example, some bids require that you offer details about your products or services on forms that have sections such as financial, management, technical, and certifications. Bids also have deadlines, security clearance requirements, and other requests for pertinent information. Always read through each bid thoroughly. If you’re not sure about an instruction, contact the contracting officer for that opportunity for more information.
Compete for Contracts
Be sure to check for Advanced Contract Awards Notices (ACANs). When a government agency believes a certain pre-qualified business is the only one capable or available to fulfill a contract, they post an ACAN stating just that. The ACAN is publicly visible for at least 15 days, and during that time, businesses can express interest in the contract by sending a statement of capabilities that explains why they’re a better choice for the job. To make your small business more appealing to the government than the pre-qualified business, you may need to lower the price of your goods or services or offer some sort of added benefit that places you above the competition.
Check for Opportunities to Do Business with the Government Often
The government posts new opportunities for businesses frequently, so don’t worry if you don’t land a contract right away. If you’re consistently rejected, reach out to the government agencies to see why your application got turned down and then make the necessary changes to improve your chances of success next time. It may take you several tries before winning your first bid, so learning how to do business with the government tips the cards in your favor.
What’s a Supplier Debriefing?
If you don’t win a bid you were sure you would, you can find out why by requesting a supplier debriefing by the agency that turned you down. In the debriefing, the agency outlines their evaluation procedure and what aspects of your bid didn’t quite meet their expectations. You can receive a debriefing either by phone, in writing, or in person – the means of receiving the debriefing are up to you.
It’s a good idea to ask for a debriefing. In fact, legislation, regulations, and various policies encourage you to do so, as it not only helps the agency describe their methods of procurement, but it also helps you as a business owner understand what you did right, and what you could have done better in your bid for a government contract. All in all, the debriefing process adds a level of transparency to the entire method of procurement you wouldn’t otherwise have.
Plenty of government resources are available to help your company succeed, so you don’t need to feel limited even if winning government contracts is your main goal. Put out feelers in a broad range of markets, both locally and nationally, and business growth can happen naturally. Are you using QuickBooks Desktop for your payroll in Canada? 4.3 million customers use QuickBooks. Join them today to help your business thrive for free.