Your business culture will make or break you, especially when you go bidding on tenders!

Don't work with d**ks and value your peeps

As we roll into week 3 of The TenderHood’s short life, I’m super conscious of the culture and values we are creating and how they will stand the test of time as we develop into a mature business. We want to create a business that is fun for our customers and shake up the boring procurement norm, but that will only be achieved if our team feels valued and genuinely believes in what we are doing.

For small businesses, if your culture is not in place and being constantly worked on, bidding on tenders can really exasperate your team as you try to win new work you don’t have capacity for. Your culture is the foundation on which your procurement strategy flourishes or dies.

(There will be a cheesy classic dance tune with every blog, so if you don’t have Spotify head on over and put that right)

So what does a good culture look like?

To create a good culture in a business, you have to be very intentional about what you are doing. You don’t just accidentally create a good culture, but you can accidentally create a bad one. Trust, engagement and employee retention are earned through very deliberate actions.

The best company I have ever worked for is Hutch Games, based in London. Not involved in public procurement (was going to say obviously, but fun and games are part of our culture, oh and we have a game too!), but just a great example of an amazing place to work. Employees are asked for constant feedback on their level of happiness based on various factors like engagement, training, salary etc. The owners genuinely care about their employees and work hard every day on the culture.

I’ve also been influenced by companies like Unbounce and HotJar who seem to have built not only great brands, but a great story to support their success and just look like wicked cool places to work.

There are many things that contribute towards a good culture. Flexible workdays, flexible workspaces, fair pay, employee engagement, mental health awareness, employee ownership, shared company vision…and that applies no matter what size your company is.

And how does this impact my procurement strategy?

The majority of SMEs have very small teams, and that means not only is your capacity to bid on tenders small, so is your ability to deliver if you do win.

The culture you create in your team will support you in your decision-making. Do we have capacity to handle this amount of work? Does the buyer fit with our belief system, and would we want to actually work with them? If we do win, do we have the people in place to handle growth? The only way you are going to get truthful answers to those questions are from a team (no matter how small) who are engaged in the company, who trust you, who care, who are brave enough to tell you the truth even when they know you won’t like the answer.

Even bidding for a tender can use up all of your resources for a considerable amount of time. You want to be really sure that you are going for the right tender at the right time. That’s why statements like ‘never miss a tender’ make absolutely no sense to me. You just need to make sure you have a tender that fits with your business strategy and gives you the best possible chance of winning at a time when you have all of the pieces in place to handle your success.

Small things can make a big difference

When I started my co-working space a few years ago, one of the things we were always sure to do was say thank you. It certainly does not build a culture on its own, but acknowledgment and appreciation are great first steps.

Your team wants you to be a leader, not a manager. The way you behave gives your employees permission to behave the same way. Don’t be a d**k, Be honest, even when you are making mistakes, and listen. Listen to what your team is telling you, even if you don’t agree or end up doing what they suggest. Just don’t go bidding on a bunch of tenders without their support and trust, or you will be doomed to failure before you answer the first question in that ITT.

How do you work on your company culture? Which values do your company stand by? Got any tips for us as we develop The TenderHood? Let us know in the Responses below.

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