Suppliers & Partners
“More and more companies are reaching out to their suppliers and contractors to work jointly on issues of sustainability, environmental responsibility, ethics, and compliance.” – Simon Mainwaring
When planning your business idea, it is worth taking the time to consider who your suppliers and partners will be. This is a little more complicated than just doing a search on Google. When your business margins are tight and you aim to make a profit, choosing the right supplier is important, not just for the price but the quality also.
- Finding a supplier – Assessing a supplier is as important as assessing a customer. Finding out if they are reliable and deliver the products on time and to your standard, this is important when your business depends on them. Don’t rush into choosing a supplier, it would be worth speaking to different suppliers and other people in your network who might be able to refer their suppliers.
- Assessing a supplier – It is important you are using a supplier you can trust, your entire business could be affected if they let you down. When it comes to assessing a supplier it is important you run a test before you commit, make this cost effective but as close to the real thing as possible. Ask others for recommendations (and we don’t just mean check online reviews), try to arrange a face to face meeting with them and speak to their current customers. Ask potential suppliers if they will offer you terms, this might not be provided by suppliers until they can trust you will pay them so don’t be disheartened if they refuse.
- Working with a supplier – set your standards early, if you’ve done your finding and assessing right, this point should be fairly straight forward. Let your supplier know what you expect, giving them clear instructions on what you need supplying, when you expect the delivery and the quality you expect (be realistic with these, suppliers will know if you are being unreasonable). Another point to remember is to keep quality high throughout the time you use the supplier, ensure that each supply is as good as the last, this will help with continuity for your end customers. One way to ensure this is to stay engaged with the supplier, communicate regularly with them.
Download our business plan template
Having a partner in business does not always mean setting up a formal ‘partnership’ in this context … it can mean combining the expertise of two individuals to pass work between each other – often referred to as an associate relationship.
- Finding a partner – Our recommendation would be networking. It is a great place to find a wide range of different business people all in one place. This also gives you the opportunity to meet with them face to face and really get to know someone. Get involved, it’s not as scary as you might think. Even if these people can’t directly help with areas of your business, they may well know someone who can. Ask for recommendations.
- Assessing a partner – It is important you assess any potential partners as much if not more than customers. You need to know they are reliable, can do the work / offer the support you are looking for and more importantly you can work with consistently. Arrange one to one meetings with potential partners giving you the opportunity to talk about what you’re looking for.
- Working with a partner – as mentioned above, a partner isn’t always someone who you’ve set a partnership business up with. It could be a business consultant who is supporting you on your start up journey. Communication is important for any partnership.
Suppliers and partners are often the key drivers of businesses, ensure you work with the best to position your business better. Seek help, network, ask for recommendations and work hard to maintain the relationships that are mutually beneficial.
Thoughts on suppliers from Yorkshire Powerhouse
Understanding cash flow is the life blood of any business and needs to be one of the key priority areas for anybody running a business. Read >