June round-up

June round-up

June has been a busy month, despite my intending to have a bit of time off. I completed a really big piece of work at the end of May which was the culmination of three months of hard, but really enjoyable, graft. The team I worked with was superb and it was a real joy to work with them. 

Bids I’ve worked on this month

I’ve completed some smaller pieces of work this month, including a consultants’ framework, prep for bid that will ramp up over July, and providing initial bid consultancy on an exciting development opportunity.

Availability for July

I can never tell what my workload over the summer is going to be like, but this July looks busy already. I do have some availability over July and August, so please contact me to discuss what you need, especially if you have any holidays to cover that require bid support. The earlier I can programme work in, the more I can help you.

Blog posts

My blog has been languishing for far too long, but it’s back with a bang with the publishing of my bid/no bid tool. The tool has been designed to help you decide whether to commit to a bid or not and allows you to focus your efforts on the opportunities that you are best-placed to win.

You can read the blog here and access the bid/no bid tool here.

Developing new skills

I have been learning new skills this month – hypnosis in this case. It is something I have always been very interested in and I am practising on myself and my friends to gain my qualification. My longer-term goal is to work more with this – I have a long-term interest in holistic healing – although I won’t be leaving bid writing any time soon.

IPSE National Freelancers’ Day

I was at the event on 20 June in London – it’s always a great event to catch-up with other freelancers and have access to content that is tailored to our needs. I’d recommend it for next year for any freelancers out there who weren’t able to go.

The key thing I learned this year was using your personal Twitter account as a freelancer, rather than a business account. I agonised over this for years, but struggled to work with multiple accounts and decide what the right content was. Carl Reader recommended using your personal account for business, sharing relevant content and allowing your personality to shine through.

Standard content

I’ve been developing standard content for clients to purchase so that you can build your bid libraries up. This standard content is based on 16 years of writing for work-winning in the construction industry, so will provide you with a really robust starter for ten that you can tailor to fit your business. This will be published over the next couple of months, with extra sections being added as needed. I’ll let you know when it’s available via my social media channels.

Books I’ve read

A book I’ve really enjoyed recently is the Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. This book recommends working in your zone of genius – many of are working in our zones of competence or excellence, but by taking the leap and defining what your key skill or ability is, you can transform your life.

It also had an interesting theory about time – Einstein time, in that we have exactly as much time as we need, and can create more, it’s just about how we think about it. So, rather than forever thinking ‘I don’t have time’, think ‘I do have time’. Changing your thinking will change your perception and reduce your stress levels. I’ve been applying this recently – perhaps not the easiest when working to constant deadlines, but it’s a more positive way of thinking.

Awards this month

I can also write awards submissions – it’s a very similar style to bid writing, and I have a full list of construction and built environment awards which will shortly be available to download on my website. I’m available to write your submissions. I’ll be publishing what’s coming up each month on my round-ups, as well as tweeting reminders on Twitter.

Award deadlines for July:

Conferences this month

As well as awards, conferences and events should also form part of your construction marketing plan, whether attending or following the conversation on social media. This month, the Well-being in Construction Summit is taking place on 2 July.  

Manchester – a destination for business

I will also be attending GM Chamber’s event ‘Manchester – a destination for business’ on 9 July, which will be discussing the city’s ambitions for growth. Manchester never knowingly undersells itself, so I’m sure there will be a lot of exciting stuff to hear about.

Short holiday

I’m taking a break in Anglesey for a few days at the end of June but will be back at my desk from 2 July. Catch up with you then.

#BidTips – Bid/no bid – assessing the opportunity

#BidTips – Bid/no bid – assessing the opportunity

All opportunities should be qualified with a bid/no bid discussion before the bid process starts. Be clear about your reasons for bidding and what winning will mean for your business – is it a good fit and how likely are to you to be successful? I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard ‘let’s just take a punt’ over the past 16 years of work-winning, but I can count how many times taking a punt led to bid success. Never.

The bid/no bid process facilitates fact-based decision-making and should be completed before preparing a response to an opportunity. It also enables you to focus your efforts on the bids you have a greater chance of winning, further increasing the possibility of a successful outcome.

Using a bid/no bid form to evaluate the opportunity

Using a bid/no bid form for your own business should be the first step of your bidding process, and if you haven’t got one, it should be high on the to-do list. I have developed one that I use with my clients and you can download a copy of this here that you can tailor to fit your own business.

The bid/no bid process will review how strong relationships, experience and your proposed team are. It will also prompt you to consider a range of client factors, such as whether funding is in place and if you know who will be marking the bid, and internal factors, such as whether you have the resources in place to effectively deliver the bid and subsequent project, as well as whether the legal and commercial terms are acceptable to your business.

Bid/no bid factors to consider

The three most important quality factors in any bid are: client relationships, relevant experience and delivery team. As a bid writer, I will work with you to align this information effectively to the bid’s requirements. There are also further factors, listed below, to consider when evaluating whether to proceed or not – if you find you have more negatives than positives, it’s definitely not a bid to pursue!

Client relationships

  • How well do you know the client and understand their issues?
  • How does this project meet their needs?
  • What are their concerns about this project?

Conflicts of interest

  • Are there any conflicts of interest that could prevent you from proceeding?
  • How are these being managed, or does it present a no bid situation?

Business plan and funding

  • How does the project fit with your business plan and strategy?
  • Does the client have funding in place? Do you know what the source of it is?

Tracking or ad-hoc

  • Have you been tracking this opportunity for a while or is it an ad-hoc piece of work you have been asked to tender. If it’s ad-hoc, go no further with it – if you were a serious contender, you would have been approached for a conversation before now.

Legal and commercial requirements

  • Review the contract to check there are no legal or commercial requirements that could pose a problem.
  • Are there any other conflicts of interest that preclude you from bidding?

Time to complete the bid

  • Is there enough time between now and bid submission to develop a robust response?

Resources to complete the bid and deliver the work

  • Do you have the right team in-house to put the bid together, including writer, senior bid lead, technical experts and graphics support?
  • Is the right delivery team available?

Having the right experience

  • Can you demonstrate having the right experience for this project?
  • How does the experience align to this project, and which pieces of evidence do you need to source to prove your claims and write your case studies?

Having the right team and skills

  • Do you have the right team, blending experience with other skills, such as collaborative behaviours?

Organisational infrastructure

  • Do you have the right certificates, finances and insurances required to bid and deliver the work?

Messaging

  • Can you articulate why you are the right bidder to win this job?
  • How are the two organisations aligned?

Evaluation

  • How are the marks distributed across the bid? Which sections are the most important for the client? Does the marking give you a hint as to what the key issues are on this project?

Working with the bid/no bid form

I have developed a bid/no bid that you can use for your own business – you can either download the pdf (above), or run through the checklist version below by putting a tick in the relevant box for each question, and analysing the total. I’d really love to get your feedback on this version of a bid/no bid form and whether you have applied it to your business.

How I work with clients on this

I go through the bid/no bid process with clients on all bids and give them my opinion about whether I believe the opportunity is worth pursuing. Of course, clients can disregard this advice – but if I am asked to work on bids, I like to create the best chance of winning. The bid/no bid is kept are part of the bid documentation I hand over at the end of the project and is really useful as part of review or feedback processes once the result is known.

If I can help you assess your next bid opportunity, please get in touch.

Bid/No Bid Form

How this works

The bid/no bid process provides objective evidence to help you make a decision.
Answer each question, putting a 1 in the appropriate column (except question 12).
Review the result and then consult the interpretation section.

Interpretation of the result

13 – 16

Strong opportunity that should be bid with the full support of the business and senior management.

7 – 12

Is there any further information available to strengthen the business case of progressing this opportunity?

1 – 6

Definitely not worth pursuing any further.

#BidTips – a series

#BidTips – a series

I first started producing BidTips about two years ago and I’ve decided to revisit them, building on the original content and developing it into longer-form blog posts. BidTips will be published monthly and are snapshots of best practice I’ve worked with during my work winning career and designed to invite your thoughts, whether via the website, on Twitter or Instagram.

I’m back from London

I’m back from London

The last couple of months have been intense – I’ve been working on an infrastructure bid in London and spending three or four days a week there. I’ve really loved being there and working with such a talented, motivated team that the bid was a dream to work on. I will share my thoughts on London as a city in more depth in another post.

Now that I’m back home, I’m thinking about what the next couple of months will bring, both for me personally and for my bid writing business, which will be five years old this summer. Top of the agenda is updating my website and online presence in general, and I’ve been working with a couple of other freelancers to help me to do this. Their expertise has been invaluable as I plan how to use social media for business a lot more.

Over the past five years, I have combined big bids with smaller ones. Typically, the bigger stuff requires me to travel all over the UK and even the world, while the smaller stuff generally allows me to work from home and have a more balanced lifestyle. For the next few months I will be focusing on smaller bids and other forms of bid consultancy, such as bid libraries, standard information, reviews and audits, so if this sounds like the kind of help you might need over the summer, please get in touch.

In the meantime, you will be seeing a whole lot more of me online, blogging about bid writing, freelance life and everything else in between. I look forward to connecting with you all more.