Growing your business in any economy has its challenges but during times of economic uncertainty, it requires the best from everyone on the team. Although you feel like a team of “one”, you may discover that you have more brain power and skill at your disposal by learning to enlist, engage, and involve vendors or suppliers to help grow your business.
When my dad launched his diesel repair business in 1972, business was simple. It was easy to be skilled in his craft and knowledgeable (not skilled) in a variety of areas needed to run the business, such as planning, finances, and marketing. That is certainly not today’s business environment. Information is coming at us at an accelerated rate. Keeping up with new developments in one’s own field of expertise is a challenge. Staying relevant in industries not core to your business, yet vital to your success, is near impossible. Reaching out for assistance is the first step to growing your business.
1. Seek experts (vendors/suppliers) for your business. Steve Jobs made growing a business look simple. How did he do it? He surrounded himself with expertise so he could focus on his true talents.
You’re the master at your craft...your core business, therefore you want to look for specialists in the areas of human resources, legal, bookkeeping & accounting, sales & marketing, graphic/web design, IT support, and business coaching. (I saved the best for last.)
Ask your trusted colleagues and valued friends for referrals, explore online, or draw on the search capabilities of Linkedin.
2. Interview several vendors/suppliers. One size doesn’t fit everyone when it comes to finding the right support so you’ll want to interview three to four specialists for each vendor position to ensure the right fit. Take your time with the interview process. Educate them on the way you do business. Ask about their standards of excellence, rate of dependability, and commitment to ongoing learning. You want a team of experts that works proactively on your behalf to pull your business forward.
3. Engage your team of experts quarterly. Once you’ve identified your team of experts, actively engage them in growing your business by meeting with them quarterly. Ideally, it’s best to meet with your entire team simultaneously in person or by phone. This ensures everyone is playing from the same game plan and is a major time saver for you, the busy entrepreneur.
4. Replace as needed. A business is only as strong as its weakest link. Even the most thorough interview process doesn’t always reveal chinks in the armor. ‘Replace early and replace often’ is our motto. Although that sounds harsh, your business can’t afford to be held back by vendors/suppliers that are slow to respond or reactive to your business needs.
As a small business entrepreneur, you need talented vendors/suppliers on your team. And, you need them before a problem arises! Building your team of experts now saves you a tremendous amount of time, money, and brain cells.
What other ways do you engage your vendors in growing your business?