Expansion into the Unknown
The very thought of Procurement Contracts can feel overwhelming. How do I start? What do I charge? What steps do I need to take to prepare my company?
These are all questions I asked myself when starting out as well. Prior to preparing your company, I would suggest you take a look at the government procurement website to determine if there are goods or services you could provide to the standards requested. Be forewarned - the contracts themselves are lengthy, set aside a quiet afternoon to research. Searching the Buy and Sell Site (http://buyandsell.gc.ca) can be complicated to start. If you're looking for Indigenous Set-Aside Contracts, type PSAB (Which is Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business) in the search section. Select either Goods or Services depending on your business and take a look at all contracts being offered, whether expired or current, to determine if there is an opportunity for you. Read on if you feel this is you....
Next steps can feel complicated, I suggest you set aside a block of time to walk through them.
1. Obtain a GST Number. This is required once your business has a gross profit (before deductions) of $30,000. You can voluntarily obtain a GST number prior to this. Note: This does not mean you need to start charging GST. You will need to read up on this either through the Government GST Site or by speaking with your accountant.
2. Obtain a Procurement Business Number. Once you receive a GST Number, you will need this to obtain a Procurement Number. The numbers are basically the same with a few minor changes. This can be done while registering within the Supplier Information System (SIS) on the buy and sell site. There is a lot of information requested here and the more information you provide, the better.
3. Register on the Indigenous Business Directory if applicable. Review the qualifications from the Indigenous Services Canada site and complete the accompanying form. The approval process can take up to 5 days.
4. Sign up for FREE webinars through the Office of Small and Medium Enterprise. They offer these throughout the year and answer questions such as applying for contracts, security screening (required for every contract) and the overall bidding process.
There are many additional steps but from here it depends on what direction you are taking. There are many contracts listed on the Buy and Sell site, some are revolving deadlines - usually Requests for Supply Arrangement (RFSA). Others have set deadlines but could be looking for interest and not an actual contract. It is very important to read the contract outline completely before determine if this is you. Common questions I ask myself are:
1. What are the qualifications required?
2. Outline of Scope of Work required and date of completion.
3. What type of security screening is required?
Applying for an RFSA can be a quick way to obtain your security screening, plus you can be listed on an as needed basis for smaller contracts.
I wish you the best of luck on your pursuit of procurement opportunities. There's plenty of room for us all to obtain contracts. I encourage you to help another along the way as well.