The business world is ever changing. To keep on top of the latest trends, it’s important for SMEs to have a resource bank of insider tips and knowledge. We have compiled a list of our top five business resource websites so you have a go-to list of sources to help inform your business practices.
- Bdaily Business Blog
Bdaily was founded in 2009 and provides timely news, advice and opinion content useful for SMEs. What’s good about Bdaily is that you can target news stories for specific regions in England: North East, North West, Yorkshire and London as well as national and international coverage.
If you’re looking for a range of advice for your small business or startup, or even if you’re just in the planning phase, gov.uk has a range of resources: advice on writing a business plan, financial planning and support, and links to the various schemes the government runs.
With a dedicated Q&A section maintained by small business experts, smallbussiness.co.uk is the hub for start-ups and SMEs looking for insider knowledge. The site covers the most important topics and advice for SMEs covering finance, business management and technology.
- Federation of Small Businesses
Established 40 years ago, the FSB provide a wide range of business services to their members. What makes them stand out is their legal edge: online you can access fact-sheets, legal documents and read their blog to get into the nitty gritty of regulations.
- Startup Britain
A ‘national campaign by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs’: Startup Britain offers inspiration, resources and guidance to help people start and grow their own business. Startup Britain have local support centres and run events which you can find via their interactive map online.
- Tenders Direct – Things to help you
For guidance specific to public sector tendering, our ‘Things to help you’ section on Tenders Direct has guides, infographics and handy procurement links to help suppliers with their procurement exercises.
In public procurement, lots, and in particular ‘small lots’ are often an area of much confusion. What is a small lot and what does the small lot threshold mean?
Hopefully this SMALL blog entry will answer a LOT of your questions.
Continue reading “Procurement terminology: what are ‘small’ lots?”
A lot of potential suppliers to the public sector are put off by the amount of work it takes to become tender ready and what seems to be a chicken and egg situation where you need references to pass the PQQ (selection) stage but can’t get references until you win a contract!
The changes to the procurement regulations this year have made in roads to this situation with the abolition of PQQs for below threshold contracts and the removal of the burden of proof for above threshold contracts but there are a number of steps SMEs (and all organisations new to public sector tendering) can take to get a foot in the door and start supplying to the public sector. Continue reading “Little fish in a bid pond? How SMEs can break into public sector procurement.”
In our blog about election manifestos one thing that was clear is that all the main parties feel that involvement of SMEs in procurement is the key to economic growth. The current Government set a target of 25% of all Central Governments spend to be with SMEs when it came to power in 2010 and it met this target in the 2013-2014 financial year. Framework agreements represent around 45% of procurements in the UK and compared to other EU nations the UK uses this type the most. The purpose of this blog is to explain how important framework agreements can be for SMEs.
They can be broken down into lots. In the new regulations it suggests that authorities can break tenders down into lots where applicable. Although this has always been an option, there has been a change in focus initiating a ‘do it or justify why not’ approach which is good news for SMEs as it means that larger contracts that would previously have been out of reach for SMEs are now available. Continue reading “Why are framework agreements important to SMEs?”
As part of our series of blogs on the 2015 Procurement Regulations, we are going to look at the main changes to the two common stages in procurement – the PQQ stage in this blog and in a couple of days we will look at the ITT stage. It is important to know what changes you can expect and how you need to prepare for them if you are a supplier to the public sector.
The most important changes to the PQQ stage in the new regulations are:
A turnover cap has been introduced to facilitate SME participation. Contracting authorities will not be able to set company turnover requirements at more than two times the contract value, except where there is a specific justification. This will be of benefit to a lot of suppliers but given the point made in our previous blog about contracting authorities not being mandated to break contracts down into lots this means you must have a turn over circa £223K (unless the contract is being broken down into lots) which will still inhibit a lot of smaller or newly established companies from competing. In any case, from today make sure all contracts you are applying for follow this rule to open up as many doors as possible. If the turn over requirement is more than two times the contract value then ask why – there may be justification but it might just be an error that the procurement team can rectify, giving you the opportunity to compete for the business. Continue reading “2015 Procurement Regulations – Changes to the PQQ Stage – What Suppliers need to know.”
The official public contracts regulations which govern UK public sector procurement have been published and are coming in to force on the 26th February 2015.
One of the main aims of the regulations and their precursor strategies ( such as Europe 2020 and the Lord Young report) was to encourage more participation from SME companies in tendering exercises and ultimately to get more SMEs supplying to the public sector.
The current government set the lofty target of 25% of government spend going to SMEs by 2015, a target which is a long way from being met so the key questions for organisations looking to supply into the public sector in light of the new regulations are 1) What has changed? and, more importantly, 2) What does this actually mean for me?
What has changed?
Some of the more significant changes in the new regulations are:
- Tendering documents have to be available from the date of OJEU advertisement – no more registering interest and chasing for updates from the contracting authority.
- Reduced timescales for procurement – on average they have reduced timeframes by a third and have introduced the new Accelerated Open procedure for OJEU tenders and have prohibited the use of a PQQ stage for low value contracts.
Continue reading “New 2015 Procurement Regulations – Will SMEs benefit from the changes?”
For many organisations, but particularly SMEs, public sector tendering opportunities are an important way of securing new business, with hundreds of local contracts in every industry published every week.
The key to winning public sector tenders lies in knowing where to find the best information, choosing the appropriate contract size and building good relationships, according to Aberdeen-based electronic tendering provider Millstream.
“A number of European governments and public authorities now handle procurement electronically in order to save money and time and to comply with the latest EU legislation so there are literally thousands of opportunities out there,” said managing director Tim Williams.
Tim Williams, MD at Millstream Associates
Continue reading “Millstream offers key to SME success in securing public sector tenders”
The public sector is a potentially lucrative source of business, as the UK spends about £222 billion a year on procurement. There are also certain advantages to working with public sector organisations; they are required by EU law to be transparent and fair in the way they choose suppliers, they are very stable and reputable, and usually make prompt payments.
Continue reading “Does Size Matter? SMEs in Public Sector Procurement”