When the UK won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics, there were many opportunities for businesses that wanted to win Tendering contracts.

At that time, I was working with an organisation providing advice and support to businesses that wanted to win contracts with Local Authorities (LA). At least there was one assurance with the LA – you would get paid. Sometimes, it would take an interminable time, but you would get paid.

Part of my responsibility was to deliver “How to Tender Successfully” workshops, as many companies found the process time-consuming and overwhelming and would therefore choose not to apply.

The workshop was a step-by-step process for submitting tenders: how to understand the criteria, find opportunities, communicate with the buyers, complete Pre-Qualification documents and draft method statements.

Interestingly, during the workshop, the participants nodded enthusiastically and would leave, saying how much they had learned and what they would do next – and then did nothing.

I could not understand why.

Shortly after, it hit me. The participants didn’t believe it was possible to win the business. Their beliefs were in the way. For example:
✅ There’s no point; it won’t be successful anyway
✅ We don’t have the right experience
✅ The contracts have already been awarded – it’s a waste of time

The list was long.

I decided to do something different and changed the workshop format, so in the first hour, we dealt with beliefs. I wanted to unearth all those mental blockages in the way and then proceed to the strategies.

After that, many businesses followed through, and some succeeded. This was also made possible by the evidence of other companies being successful, which reduced the cynicism and deep-seated beliefs.

But here’s a twist, the beliefs worked on both sides, as the ‘beliefs’ held by the buyers in LA were just as insidious.

Although there had been directives to create opportunities for local or more diverse suppliers, the decision-makers would not award contracts to local businesses because of the ‘risk’ and other unconscious biases. They went through the motions and ultimately stayed with the incumbents.

Our beliefs shape our decisions, how we speak, the clients we approach and accept, and ultimately, how much we value ourselves and those around us.