Aug 5, 2022

Local, State and/or Federal Bidding: Which is the Best Fit For your Business?

Which bid opportunities are the best fit for your business to pursue: state, local or federal opportunities? The decision can be challenging, and the answer will depend on what type of business you operate, where you are located, and the resources and manpower you have at your disposal. The best way to determine which bids are right for your business is to create a business map of your company that details what you do, how much work you can handle during a given timeframe and how you would like to see your business develop in terms of growth. Once you answer these questions, you will be one step closer to determining the government contracts that are a good fit for your business.  


Figure out how much work your business can handle  

The first question to answer when deciding whether to pursue state, local or federal contracts is: what kind of products or services can you provide to the government? After that, it’s important to figure out the precise geographic limits that apply to the services you provide by identifying where you are already providing services and which territories you would like to expand into. How many employees you have, and the size of your company are also important factors to consider. Next, determine the resources that you have in place and decide if you will need more to fulfill a contract. Answering these questions will help you become confident that you can take on a new government contract without taking resources away from your current customers and core business operations.   

Knowing this information will also allow you and your business to make quicker decisions when you see an open opportunity from a government agency. What is the size of the contract and the timeline expectations for delivery or project completion? Knowing what you can handle and your goals for growth will allow you to focus on the opportunities that fit where your business is today and how this contract could help your growth goals.   


Bigger contracts mean larger everything (including resources)  

Keep in mind that while larger contracts typically mean more money for your company, they also mean more work and more responsibilities. If you plan to bid on larger opportunities, make sure that you can handle the workload. Look at past bid documents for federal, state and local bids as well as the required rules and regulations to get an idea of what the contract specs and general guidelines for a particular contract may be.  

Also, note the dollar amount awarded for previous versions of the contract if available. With this information in hand, it will be easier to know if you and your business can comply with the contract agreement, which will, in turn, allow you to submit a fair price for the job. Ultimately, the goal is to make sure you have both the resources and manpower needed to complete the job and will be able to do so in the timeframe required by the contract before you submit a bid.   

State and local contracts may seem small compared to federal contracts, but don’t think that they are any less profitable or that they do not require just as much work and responsibility. In total, the federal government spends a little more than double what state and local agencies do every year, and a large amount of that federal spending goes to military departments – some of which are larger than multiple state agencies combined.   

Local government agencies such as cities, counties, and school districts are a great place to start if you have never done business with the government. These types of contracts will allow you to get your feet wet while ensuring that you don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of work required for larger contracts often found at the state and federal levels. However, do not shy away from pursuing or partnering with another company to fulfill a larger request. Simply responding to a request for proposal or quote can be good experience and teach you about the bidding process.   


No matter the decision, be prepared 

After weighing your options, you may decide to bid only on state and local contracts, or to focus your energy on obtaining federal contracts. You may even decide that your business can handle both areas of bidding! Keep in mind that no two bids are alike and that every agency operates differently, meaning that the way you go about submitting a proposal for one contract may be entirely different from another. It’s a good idea to take the time to get familiar with the agency issuing a contract you want to pursue, build working relationships within the industry, and make your presence known – this will help you stand out from your competitors.   

Once you’ve decided whether you will pursue state, local or federal business opportunities, make a plan for how you will go about finding and then preparing your bids. With one of the mdf commerce’s tendering services : Merx, an electronic tendering platform for the Canadian public and private sectors, and bidnet direct  for the US market, you have the option to search and be alerted of all federal, state and local solicitations within a specific state, within multiple states, or just local participating agencies in your area. Part of your plan should include determining who oversees preparing the response. This response normally includes documents and pricing details and there is a specific user role within bidnet direct and Merx, the two electronic tendering platform for the public and private sectors powered by mdf commerce, to submit responses online. Many local government agencies accept bid documents and pricing online within the bidnet director the Merx platform, however some agencies at the local, state and federal level of government purchasing still expect printed documents to be delivered by mail or documents to be submitted online through a specific bidding page.   

Be certain to read all the details on where, how and when the bid submission needs to be completed. In addition, take note of important dates including expected site visits, the bid opening, and when the bid must be submitted to the agency. If you plan on having a representative present at the bid opening be sure to schedule their attendance in advance - and of course, ensure that your representative arrives on time.  

By familiarizing yourself with all aspects of government bidding and carefully planning a bidding process for your business, you’ll have a better chance of winning the contracts you want to pursue. 

Find your next US government contract!   

For Canada, click here to find your next contract