Interview with Bronwyn
Bronwyn is a Small Business owner and serial entrepreneur whose driver is Small business success in regional areas. Bronwyn has successfully started and runs two award-winning businesses from regional Queensland, and her latest venture, Mining For Business, will be her third.
For most Small Business owners, landing that first contract with a big buyer is the spark for real business growth, but getting there isn’t always easy. Bronwyn’s businesses have been supplying to national and international companies and all levels of Government for almost 20 years, so she has brought all her experience of attracting, winning and retaining work with these large organisations together in the “Small Company, Big Business” Program.
Q | BRONWYN, WHO IS YOUR BUSINESS IDOL AND WHY?
Gail Kelly. She’s a smart, successful, elegant, no-fuss woman who rose to the top of her profession, and made sure that record numbers of women followed her into management roles. She then turned her talents to supporting women in developing countries.
“Help one woman out of poverty and she’ll bring four with her”. – Gail Kelly
Q | WHAT WAS THE LAST BOOK YOU READ WITHOUT SKIPPING THROUGH ANYTHING?
Organisations Behaving Badly by Leon Gettler
IF YOU COULD TRADE LIVES WITH ONE PERSON FOR AN ENTIRE DAY WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
Joanna Lumley. I could spend a whole day on the set of Ab Fab.
Q | WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO TRY BUT HAVE BEEN TOO SCARED TO?
Skydiving. It looks like so much fun, but because I’m scared of heights, I’ve never tried.
Q | WHAT ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
The obvious answer is my two beautiful children and the family my husband and I have built around them. I’m also very proud of having been able to steer our company through the collapse of the resources boom and put it back on a serious growth path.
Q | WHERE IS YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO GO ON A WEEKDAY AFTERNOON WHEN YOU HAVE NO PLANS OR OBLIGATIONS?
Our local botanical gardens by the river. I don’t go there enough.
Q | WHAT DRIVES YOU TO DO WHAT YOU DO? WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
The future of regional Australia, and regional small business in particular – they are the lifeblood of our communities. Regional economies are often one-trick ponies, with little resilience to withstand economic shocks. I truly believe we can do better, and limit the collateral damage to regional communities when these shocks occur. I’m also an old school feminist, and have spent my entire adult life striving to change attitudes. Unfortunately there is still a long way to go.
Q | IS THERE A DOCUMENTARY/BOOK/EVENT THAT REALLY CHANGED THE WAY YOU THOUGHT ABOUT SOMETHING?
While living overseas, our house and our office were the target of some rioting. It made me realise just how precious our legal system is here in Australia because we had no protection at all.
Q | WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CHEESY PICK-UP LINE? HAVE YOU EVER USED IT FOR REAL?
“Excuse me, you’re THE best-looking man I’ve ever seen”. Yes.
Q | YOU’RE A NEW ADDITION TO THE CRAYON BOX. WHAT COLOUR WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
Pastel green. I just love the colour and I find it very calming. I could be the calm crayon in the box.
Q | WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE ’90S JAM?
“Don’t let the sun go down on me” – Elton John
Q | IF YOU WOKE UP AND HAD 2,000 UNREAD EMAILS AND COULD ONLY ANSWER 300 OF THEM, HOW WOULD YOU CHOOSE WHICH ONES TO ANSWER?
The ones from my family and close friends. If the others are really important, they’ll be sent again.
Getting a contract with a Government department or a big corporate is almost always a game-changer for a Small Business. It’s the one step that kick-starts rapid growth, and finally gets the business out of the struggle zone.
But where do you start? Where do you find them? How do you know what they need, and what work is on offer?
Q | WHERE TO FIND A TREASURE-TROVE OF INFORMATION
Actually, there is a place that is full of exactly this kind of information, and surprisingly, most Small Businesses never check it out. That place is online tender sites.
Government departments, Councils and many big companies find the goods and services they need by using a process called Tendering.
Sadly, too many small business owners believe that tendering is only for the “big guys”.
Q | SO, WHAT IS A TENDER?
A Tender is a process whereby a buyer specifies what goods and/or services it needs, and then asks potential suppliers to submit a proposal that meets their requirements.
The Tender document is an invitation to qualified and interested suppliers. It contains all the conditions and requirements that the supplier must satisfy, as well as a closing date – when all the proposals must be submitted.
The buyer then chooses its preferred supplier from all the proposals received, based on price, delivery terms, value, delivery times and a host of other possible criteria.
Related: Here’s Why Passive Income Is a Myth
(I’m not going to cover the entire tender process in this post. I’ll leave that for another follow-up article).
In this article, I want to assure all Small Business owners that tenders are most definitely not just for big business, and that they could be missing out on huge opportunities by ignoring the tender process. Tenders used to scare me to death, but once I learned how to search for them, and write good submissions, they are now a firm part of my marketing plan.
Q | HOW MANY BILLION DID YOU SAY?
To illustrate the potential market available through tenders, I have looked up the latest Australian Federal Government statistics.
During 2014-2015 (the latest figures published), the Federal Government alone purchased $59.5 billion worth of goods and services by tender, and issued 69,236 contracts.
More importantly, 67% of these were for work under $80,000 – well within the reach of most Small Businesses.
Another 18% were valued at $80,000 to $250,000. Again, not impossible for many small businesses.
Q | HOW MANY DID WE GET?
But how many of these actually went to a small business? (According to the Government definition of small being less than 20 employees).
A full 34% of all Federal Government contracts, worth $5.8 billion, went to small businesses.
And this is only the Australian Commonwealth Government. Once we start looking at State and Local Government contracts as well, the available pie just gets bigger and bigger. It’s not just governments that use the tender process though. Hundreds of large companies also use the tender process to find their goods and services, and these amount to billions of dollars every year.
Q | WHERE TO SEARCH?
I know I said at the beginning of this post that there was a place where all this tender information resides. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly all in just the one place.
Different States, Government departments and agencies advertise their tenders on their own websites, so you will need to check several sites for tenders of interest. There are also commercial tender sites which, for a fee, will allow you to search ALL the sites, and narrow your search down by category or type of product/service. These commercial sites will also give you access to tenders by private companies.
In future posts, I will follow up with some more information on successful tendering.
Tendering is a huge subject, and doing it well does require a deal of work – as does everything that goes into making a successful small business. But omitting tender sites from your marketing strategy because you think it’s only for big business may be costing you a lot more than you ever imagined.