Running a small business is challenging. Growing a small business is even more challenging. Among the most important task is to make sure the basic business structure and model remains profitable so that it will not outrun its source of cash flow and to consistently meet the needs of the business' growth forecast.
During the small business growth phase, it's important for small business players to play all of their cards and max out all of their competitive advantages. However, small businesses often overlook their suppliers during this process instead of seeing supplier relationships as growth opportunities.
When your small business wins big, so do your suppliers. Think of suppliers as your growth partners. If you put effort into building a relationship with your suppliers and establish trust through transparency early on, a good relationship with suppliers will not only be helpful for day to day operations, but it provides security while navigating the future business landscape.
COVID-19 taught us just how vulnerable supply chains can be. In times of uncertainty or perhaps a stall in cash flow, a supplier whom you have a good relationship with may throw you some slack on your payments or increase your available credit. Boosting supplier rapport can also help mitigate bumps in the supply chain and present opportunities you otherwise may have missed in a merely transactional relationship such as sharing best practices and marketplace insights.
Working closely with your suppliers is a great way to stay lean and to increase business flexibility in an effort to be responsive to shifting customer demand as opposed to reactive. Strategic suppliers are business partners. Working as a team, both parties can maximise advantages from a mutually beneficial relationship.
So, don't forget to grow your supplier relationships! Make sure to leave room for surprise -- they may provide help in ways you never imagined.