It is widely believed that larger companies are reluctant to engage with sole traders and SMEs because they feel they will be too small or inexperienced to take on a bigger contract.
But with business finance still reported to be hard to get, skill shortages widely reported and SMEs very nervous about taking on any debt it can be frustrating or not cost effective to try to grow a small business to be able to offer the range of expertise some potential bigger clients may expect.
An alternative solution may be to collaborate with related businesses as partners when making bids. As long as they are organisations the SME knows well and trusts this does not have to mean entering into a formal long-term partnership but it does require excellent communication and agreeing on some basics.
Examples of such collaborations could be a web developer offering a combined service with a marketing content writer and a graphic designer to offer an all-in-one service for clients looking for marketing support.
Sole traders who specialise in carpentry could collaborate with painters, plumbers, bricklayers and so on.
The advantage in collaboration for the client is that they get all the services they need for a project with one central point of contact for co-ordination and communications.
The advantage for the small trader is the ability to bid for larger contracts by offering a full set of the skills required.