3 Tips for SMEs to Win Government Contracts

As a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), you may wonder how you can get your foot in the door regarding government contracts. After all, it seems like only the big organisations ever seem to win these types of contracts.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. SMEs can do several things to increase their chances of winning government contracts. But first, it’s important to consider what government organisations look for in contractors. 

A Compelling Pricing Model

Government departments, agencies and public bodies have concerns about spending and controlling costs. However, this doesn’t mean that being the cheapest option will be enough to satisfy the requirements of a tender — an invitation for contractors or suppliers to bid on a contract. Conversely, being the most expensive option won’t get you anywhere. 

The key is to have a pricing model that communicates value for money. In other words, don’t be afraid to increase your bid if it means bringing a competitive product or service to the table. 


The size of your organisation and your industry experience are two separate things. Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t offer value. Be sure to highlight your experience and portfolio of previous work. If you’re new to the industry, you can compensate for your lack of experience with contractor or supplier accreditation, commercial qualifications and certifications. 

Low Risk to the Supply Chain

Government departments and agencies want to protect their supply chains from risks and disruptions. Accreditations enable you to demonstrate your compliance with key areas of supply chain risk management, including health and safety, environmental management and modern slavery, among others. 

How SMEs Can Win Government Contractors

Now that you know what government organisations look for when working with contractors or suppliers, let’s go over a few tips to help you win business. 

1. Bid Early by Staying Up to Date on Government Tender Opportunities

The government encourages businesses looking for tender opportunities to use 

Contracts Finder — an online service that lets you find information about contracts valued at over £10,000 with the government and its departments and agencies. Contracts Finder lets you:

  • Search for contract opportunities across multiple sectors
  • Find information about upcoming tenders and contracts
  • Find information about previous tenders and contracts.

You can also create an account to receive email updates and save your contract searches. However, you can still search for and bid on contracts without an account.

2. Tailor Your Bids to the Contract

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when bidding on government contracts is submitting generic bids. The government is looking for contractors that can meet their specific needs, so ensure your bid is tailored to the tender.

We recommend providing a mix of proposal evidence that aligns with the contract’s requirements. These include:

  • Statistics: Previous performance for a similar contract
  • Testimonials: Positive feedback or reviews from a similar government agency or customer
  • Case studies: Summaries of how your business supported a similar project or contract.

3. Pay Attention to the Details

Government agencies and departments are very detail-oriented — they have to be due to the public nature of their services.  So, make sure your bids are error-free. Even a tiny mistake could cost you the contract.

Proofreading isn’t just about grammatical mistakes and typos. Be sure to check whether your bid:

  • Answers all questions in the tender
  • Explains your value proposition clearly
  • Addresses the contract specifications 
  • Follows a clear and logical structure
  • Provides sufficient evidence to demonstrate your competency.

Following these tips can increase your chances of winning government contracts. Good luck!

Alex Minett is the Head of Product & Markets at CHAS, the UK’s leading health and safety assessment scheme and provider of risk mitigation, compliance, and supply chain management services. With a working history in the audit and management consulting industry, Alex is experienced in implementing visions and strategies. Skilled in negotiation, management and business development, he is passionate about driving CHAS in its mission to safeguard organisations from risk in the UK.