How to bid on foreign construction opportunities

Nowadays, like it or not, we are all global companies. Many of our suppliers are based overseas, some of our staff were trained or grew up overseas, and many of the products we use were manufactured and designed overseas. While this means you may be facing stiff competition at home, it’s worth bearing in mind the Chinese saying “when the wind blows you can build a shelter or a windmill”. In these global times, it’s never been easier to find foreign construction opportunities and grow your business overseas.

The basic process for finding foreign opportunities is pretty similar to the process you use to find opportunities at home. Firstly, identify suitable opportunities. This can be done via a great variety of websites, journals, and professional associations. Most countries have something like a Business Council or Chamber of Commerce which will definitely help you find suitable opportunities. Nowadays, they are usually affordable and run regular and useful events. Some countries such as China make very significant efforts to attract foreign partners and will do a lot of the leg-work for you.

Once you’ve identified the opportunities, the next step is to put yourself forward as a credible technical translation company. This can be a bit harder than bidding on local contracts. The language barrier can be an issue for example, as can dealing with foreign currencies, time zones and work and labor regulations. The good thing is that once you’ve been through the process, and you’ve got all your information ready, it’s much easier to apply for the next suitable contact. That’s why I would recommend doing a “dry-run” where you follow the process for bidding for a client and get all the documents they would require, but don’t submit them. Instead you can keep them and be ready to use them for real the next time. This means you have much less time pressure in preparing your presentation.

Just a quick warning at this point: It is often necessary to pay for the “tender document”. If it’s relatively affordable, it’s worth a try, but do your research before hand, as you won’t be able to make use of it if it’s totally out of your skill set. I’ve seen a few “tender documents” which just seemed like an excuse to sell “tender documents” in the past, so do some research beforehand. Watch out for spammy websites offering to sell the documents at half the price.

Once your name is out there, you may start being invited to bid on invitational tenders which are not open to the public, so even if the tender doesn’t lead to any work, it will definitely be a big benefit to your company moving forwards.

Then hopefully you’ll start either getting feedback or actually winning some foreign contracts. The entire process must seem very daunting, especially to smaller, younger companies, but I can say from my own experience, it has certainly been worthwhile. Having a few foreign jobs means you’ll have some other currencies coming in, which can protect against depreciation of the dollar. You’ll also be insulated against anything but a completely global recession or slowdown. The initial effort isn’t going to be easy, but it’s not as difficult as people expect. If your company really offers a good product or service, then why wouldn’t clients in the rest of the world want to work with you?

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