Small Business Owner Bidding 101: Understanding the Bidding Process

9 Dec
Guide to Bidding and Understanding the Process


For many small retail and service businesses, procurement opportunities (contracting opportunities) with federal, state, municipal, or private entities can be great sources of stable income. Contracting opportunities can provide small businesses with reliable, and often substantial, revenue streams that become springboards for further growth. However, it’s essential to how to bid for small business, and how to submit contracting bids in New York to increase your chances of obtaining awards.

 This step-by-step overview of the bidding process can help you better prepare and compete for lucrative procurement contracts for your small business.

Understanding the Bidding Process for Small Business

 If you want to sell products or services to federal, state, city, or private entities, you must either have the lowest price or best value. Here are several simple things to do:


Step 1: Find Bid Opportunities

 “Where do I find contract opportunities?” is the most frequently asked question by business owners who want to bid and, fortunately, there are great resources available for free, and assistance through the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers to help you navigate the procurement process. You can also find New York State contracting opportunities on the New York State Contract Reporter website.


Step 2: Determine Your Best Bid Position

 In order to determine your best bid position, ask yourself: should your business bid alone or should you partner with another business? Will you be the prime contractor or a subcontractor? 


Step 3: Be Aware of and Participate in Pre-Bid Activities

 Before bid proposals are submitted, many agencies hold mandatory events or meetings. Awarding agencies may also require that potential bidders adhere to deadlines for questions and comments, or ask that some information be submitted prior to a full proposal, including:

  • Requests for Comment (RFC)
  •  Requests for Information (RFI)
  •  Requests for Quote/Qualifications (RFQ)


Step 4: Submit a Bid

 To be competitive, it’s essential to answer all questions as outlined on the request for proposals. Incomplete submissions are often rejected before review, so avoid common pitfalls such as:

  • Missing deadlines or leaving out forms or pricing information
  • Failing to follow directions because even seemingly minor issues, such as submitting the wrong number of copies or improperly labeling your proposal, can cause your bid proposal to be rejected
  •  Failing to provide required certification documentation


Step 5: Participate in the Bid Evaluation Process

 Always be responsive during the evaluation process, as a bid can include many potential points of communication between your business and the awarding agency. You may be asked for additional information such as:

  •  Interviews
  •  Reference checks
  • Product or service demonstrations
  • Requests for clarification


Step 6: Be Ready for the Award or the Next Bid Opportunity

 When you’re awarded a contract, you’ll typically follow the next few steps:

  • Contract negotiations
  • Drafting and reviewing the contract and other administrative forms
  •  For New York State contracts, you’ll also be required to obtain a Vendor ID to receive payments through the statewide financial system

 If you’re not awarded a contract, the procurement officer will typically debrief and discuss what you did well and what you need to work on for bids in the future.


Another important consideration is that bidding on and winning contracts takes patience, organization and the financial security – for example, typical payment terms for contractors may vary from 30 days to 90 days or more. If you’re interested in procuring government and private contracts for your small business, the team at Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) can provide advice to help you prepare to bid, and our small-business loans can help you manage day-to-day cash flow when contracts are awarded. Contact EGF today to learn more.


About Excelsior Growth Fund

Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) helps businesses in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania grow by providing streamlined access to business loans and advisory services. EGF’s signature product, the EGF SmartLoan™, provides up to $100,000 in fast, transparent, and affordable financing through a secure online platform. Larger loans up to $500,000 are also available. EGF is a nonprofit organization and is certified by U.S. Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Learn more