As the New Year gets underway, I get a sense that 2017 will be a big year for small businesses.
If you are a small or medium sized enterprise, seize this opportunity to bid for and win government contracts, which you can find by visiting gov.uk/openforbusiness, searching Twitter using #Open4Biz and following @gov_procurement for new contracts, webinars and events.
Small businesses have told me told me they want to meet government buyers and tell them about their products and services. Im making this happen with a new series of webinars, please register here.
I have been the Crown Representative for Small Businesses for six months now, working to support government meet its target that by 2020, 1 in every 3 will be spent with small businesses.
When I came into my post my three priorities were to:
- simplify: make the procurement process quicker and simpler
- innovate: find new and improved ways of making things work better
- promote: let business know government is open for business
Heres whats happened over the past six months - and whats to come.
Like many businesses, I found the experience of bidding for government contracts lengthy and complicated.
Weve made the process simpler and Im delighted to announce a trial is underway called Complete Once, where you will provide information once and it will be saved for future to save you time.
This year we will be focussing on simplifying the language in contracts and making terms and conditions easier to understand. Dont forget if you do uncover problems when trying to work with government, you can tell the Mystery Shopper service anonymously who will investigate.
Working with small businesses with new ideas generates innovation in government. The Prime Minister announced a review of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), which will look at how we can increase the initiatives impact and give more innovators their first break.
Cambridge entrepreneur David Connell will lead the review and report back next year. I have reported to David on what I learnt from small businesses in 2016.
In November, we launched a panel of business experts and this year I will be working closely with the panel as they use their experience of working with government to challenge and improve key areas of the procurement process.
I am passionate about getting out there and meeting businesses face-to-face, so Ive been on tour! Ive hosted roundtables in Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol and London and have spoken at events across the UK, meeting over 100 small businesses.
Online, Ive hosted webinars with buyers across government and working with the Crown Commercial Service and the Cabinet Office, weve reached over 1 million people with the new Government is Open for Business campaign.
Make sure you keep up-to-date with the campaign throughout 2017 by signing up for our monthly e-newsletter.