I recently returned from my first vacation in a few years—my first since I started contracting for the federal government. I planned ahead, made all the necessary arrangements with clients, advancing their ongoing projects to a good point to step away for a few weeks…the usual.
What was unusual? All the government RFPs that kept appearing the week before I left, that naturally required a response prior to leaving town.
Why bother with all the extra work? Why go to the trouble of rearranging my already-tight schedule on the fly? Because I know that this is the kind work that leads to bigger, better projects and opportunities for my business that I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. Specifically:
- The value of the contracts I’m competing for would enable me to meet the required GSA financial milestone for this year.
- The projects – all work I and/or my team could easily produce — would add critical past performance information to my growing list of projects for federal agencies.
- I’d be able to replace a bad client with active contracts, while generating increased income at the same time.
I did find the extra hours in my schedule to accommodate these RFPs by sacrificing sleep the weeks leading up to vacation time. I worked with my team to prepare the required documents, organize a work plan, and create a compelling best-value proposal. These were total solutions priced to get attention from evaluation committees, that I felt had a 90% or better chance of winning. Despite the narrowing window of available time, I answered three RFPs that would help me reach my goals—if I win one or all contract awards, that is.
The process did not go without a hitch. Making this happen on top of usual client workload required late nights and all-nighters — not the most reliable way to create more hours in the day. My tired eyes allowed a few contextual and grammatical goofs to slip into the final proposals. Working up to the literal last minute before the response deadlines – typically just a few days after the RFPs are posted – was not usual for me. This opened the door for technical glitches that made a few of my responses late by a minute or two – not acceptable for a federal deadline.
Despite the increased margin of error, all three of my RFP responses were being evaluated as I zipped up my suitcase – even the responses that were a minute or two late.
Taking the initiative to generate the responses, and finding the fortitude and flexibility to respond short notice reflects the effort I’m willing to make in order to have the opportunity to win the work I REALLY want.
What motivates you to go the extra mile in order to win the work you most want for your business?