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SME top tips

A collection of some tips that will help micro, small or medium sized enterprises to secure new opportunities.

Are you a micro, small or medium sized enterprise looking to secure new opportunities? If so we have collated some tips that will help you to achieve this.

We are committed to supporting and encouraging local suppliers, including social enterprises and charities to bid for work at Sellafield and also outside of the Sellafield system as diversifying into new markets will help to drive local economic growth and resilient economies.

Learn from experience
The wisest people are the ones who see every experience as an opportunity to learn. Win or lose, the more you learn the more effective you will be.

Proactive feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from clients, this could be the difference between winning and losing your next work.

Our standards
Ensure you understand and meet the required standards as these get filtered down through the supply chain, and look to continually improve.

“Providing labour or materials at Sellafield requires full understanding of the applicable Sellafield procedures. You need the skills, capabilities and competencies for any individual to undertake any specific work on site. For materials or equipment, a full understanding of the contract quality requirements is essential.” Les Turner, Morgan Sindall.


is a private sector-led group of over 330 organisations, from SMEs to global businesses.
Members include world class, innovative and highly competitive companies
that offer high value jobs in the region.

Further information is available online at

Certification v demonstration
Consider formalising the hard work you invested in to meet the standards and verify it through certification and accreditations. ISO 9001, ISO 14001, Cyber essentials.


Remember it is a competition so answer the question asked to score the highest mark.

Unique selling point
Identify what this is for your company and broadcast it to the market and supply chain. Look for opportunities and use your unique selling point to win work, don’t assume that opportunities will come looking for you.

“If a supplier identifies ‘Innovation’ as their unique selling point and develops a service or product which helps to solve a problem for us as a customer, demonstrating that product or service will often have more impact than just talking about it.” Dianne Richardson, Balfour Beatty.

Know when and when not to network
Do your homework before the event and identify who will be there and is it the right event for you? Provide enough information to spark the interest but hold some back to follow up with. Make the most out of the information you gather, pull out the relevant points and use it!

“Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster organise monthly networking meetings that are excellent opportunities to build contacts in the supply chain and network with potential suppliers, clients and partners in Cumbria and beyond.

Listen carefully when you’re networking – and listen between the lines. Someone new may not seem like an obvious prospect for your business but Cumbria is a very connected community so you never know who else that someone may know!” Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster.

“Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster organise monthly networking meetings that are excellent opportunities to build in the supply chain and network with potential suppliers, clients and partners in Cumbria and beyond.

Be persistent and resilient
Be clear on your vision, maintain a certain level of challenge and keep raising the bar ever higher. If things don’t go to plan, take a step back and ask yourself ‘what can I learn from this, is this a battle we should be fighting?’

“All of us get knocked down, but it’s resilience that really matters. All of us do well when things are going well, but the thing that distinguishes athletes is the ability to do well in times of great stress, urgency and pressure.” Roger Staubach.

Get others to promote you
Showcase your testimonials and reviews of your products/services in your literature, online presences and other marketing materials.

Pursue payment
If you have a contract and your invoice is not paid on time, contact the client, it is likely there is an error on the invoice.

Don’t struggle alone
If you have a contract and are struggling to deliver, ask the client for support, they want to help.

Make contact
When contracts are awarded make contact with the successful bidder and share your capabilities.

“Don’t wait until you find out who the successful bidder is, it is key to build relationships so they know what you do and have a personal connection. This helps it to be more of a pull from them than a push from you.” Ivan Baldwin, Bendalls Engineering.

Collaboration v competition
It’s positive if you can but you don’t have to go it alone. If you don’t have all the capabilities to compete consider collaborating with others in the supply chain and build your capability with complementary businesses.

Case Study:

Cumbria Nuclear Solutions Limited is a real demonstration of the benefits of collaboration, delivering over £60m of work over the last 10 years. It is a mix of SMEs and large and global companies which was created in 2006 to compete for a framework contract with us. The alliance enabled these organisations to work collaboratively to deliver the full project lifecycle, without eroding the small company value proposition.

CNSL is made up of:

• React Engineering (SME)
• Shepley Engineers (previously SME)
• Stobbarts (now Jacobs Stobbarts, previously SME)
• James Fisher Nuclear
• White Young Green
• Westinghouse Electric Company Frameworks they are part of at Sellafield:
• Design Framework Alliance 1
• Design Framework Alliance 2
• Decommissioning Delivery Partnership

Some places to look for opportunities…