It feels like I have been ‘riding the wave’ for ten years if I think about it. I walked out of paid employment in 2012, straight into my first contract, and I haven’t really stopped since. The wave became too gnarly in 2020, which was why I felt compelled to add one bid writer to Pipster. That’s right. One. Then I sneezed, and one became six. We are busy too – I would never have been able to help Pipster clients in the way we do now without #TeamPipster, and I’m not sure I could go back to working on my own again now I have got used to having such a wonderful team.
Unlike most businesses, Pipster’s growth has not been based on a sound business plan, exceptional entrepreneurship, or strategic positioning. It has happened simply due to high demand. Pretty much as a result of a huge wave of work that started during the pandemic and has kept coming. It has felt like the 50-year storm in Point Break – that ‘must catch’ wave – and occurred simply because I hate saying “no” to my beloved clients. The great thing is, unlike Bodhi, it isn’t my final wave. The breakers keep rolling in and all my lovely Pipsters have embraced everything I have thrown at them.
During this time, I have learnt many things about running the business and working in a new way with clients – and I am STILL learning. Here are my thoughts:
- Dare to sit in the pocket of that wave without wiping out: Go with the flow. Don’t be scared by it or it will consume you. However, things change – adapt and flex with requirements and situations or you will get mullered. Listen to advice but go with your gut. There are people out there who really know their stuff, but they aren’t you, and you know yourself better than anyone else.
- Be part of the dawn patrol: Get out there early. Keep your eyes open, read the right stuff, and speak to your fellow bid professionals. We get booked up to four years in advance for some frameworks. Is this too much of a look ahead? I don’t think so. I work on yearly quarters through a simple spreadsheet (soon to become a Teams Planner), which holds all confirmed enquiries. I can easily tell whether we can resource it, or whether I need to look at finding additional people.
- Gather the best surf buddies: It is still recruitment madness in our industry. Know what you want, make your expectations clear and don’t settle for anything less. Yes, it is a job seekers market, but you alone know what you can afford and the sort of people you want working for you. Stick to your guns, but also be open to something a little different if it adds value.
- Don’t be a wave hog: When you simply can’t do it, say “No” – but offer a solution. I provide names of other trusted consultants. We are all in this together, and there is plenty of work to go around for everyone.
- Beware of the rip tide: This can sweep you out to dangerous waters before you know it. Taking on too much work without thinking it through is never a good idea, as it leaves the team stressed and emotional, and the efforts in bidding diluted. We need to feel in control of our workload, not swept along by it.
- When you nail those aerials, do it again: Celebrate the highs and the wins, and then conduct a thorough lessons learnt session. If you are to keep riding the wave at its crest, you need to work out why, so you can repeat success. And if that wave becomes a doubler, you need to be able to resource and plan accordingly.
And what if the sea becomes still? This wave can’t last for ever. Or can it? There is always a lull and some ankle slappers before the sea swells again. I personally think this wave is here to stay – people are always going to want to buy stuff, and the public procurement processes are going to continue to evolve. Companies are starting to understand, win, grow, and require extra resource – which, of course, needs bid professionals to keep doing their thing.
This wave keeps rolling. I am still getting several daily work requests from existing and potential clients, recruiters and other consultants. It seems to be on the up, which may be due to our presence on social media, word getting out that we are totally excellent at what we do, or it may genuinely be due to the public sector work increasing. Hunter S. Thompson once wrote, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!”. I say we ALL continue to ride this wave as long as it lasts, and if it does end, just get back out there and drop into the next tubular!
This article was written by Pippa Birch .