What I am hearing from a lot of small business owners is that they want to do business with larger corporations, but they don’t know where to begin. Here a few tips for getting started:
- Market Research
The first step I would recommend is to conduct market research to identify large corporations in your local area. Most corporations have tons of information about their core values, mission, and how to do business with them right on their website.
- Procurement Process
Take the time to familiarize yourself with the corporate procurement process. Most corporations have a formal process for procuring goods and services from suppliers. You can often get access to this information through corporate websites or affiliations with organizations that support diverse suppliers and small businesses.
- Procurement Readiness
If you are trying to do business with a corporation, but you don’t have a personal relationship or invitation to bid, you’ll usually have to register on a vendor portal. There, you may be asked for information regarding your small business’s experience, past performance, business integrity, capacity, access to capital, and insurance. The bottom line here is that you want to make sure you are currently positioned to do business with large corporations.
- Certification as a Diverse Supplier
Corporations are actively looking for ways to work with diverse suppliers. If your company is owned and controlled by a diverse group, I strongly suggest that you get certified. Certification also opens doors for networking opportunities, learning events, business matchmakers, and the ability to connect with tier-1 suppliers.
- Discretionary Purchases
I have found that many corporate buyers have discretionary purchasing authority to make small purchases from vendors, often circumventing the entire process that I outlined above. This process is based on relationships, referrals, and a small business’ ability to fill an immediate need. This can not only be a great source of income, but also a way to build experience and relationships with these companies that could eventually lead to larger contracts. The key to landing these discretionary purchases is positioning and preparation.
Always make sure that your collateral material appropriately reflects how you want to position your business. If you are looking to attract corporate buyers, you need to consider how your website, marketing materials, and social media will look to them, making sure that they are in alignment with your small business’s image and reputation.
The idea of landing a major contract with a large corporation can be daunting for many entrepreneurs, but it’s truly one of the best ways to grow both your small business and your profile. If you’re a minority or woman business owner, then you’re already well positioned to do business with government agencies or corporations; you simply need a foundation of knowledge to get you started. I regularly run free MWSBE workshops at both Jean Kristensen Associates, LLC and at the NYC Department of Small Business Services. There, you can learn everything you need to know to land your first big contract and supercharge the growth of your minority or women-owned small business!