The BIG Role of Small Businesses

The BIG Role of Small BusinessesAs a small business owner, the idea of approaching a major corporation to sell your products and services, or partner on a project, can feel overwhelming. Large companies with household names command a lot of respect in our society. But small businesses are, in many ways, the engine that keeps our economy running. Understanding more about the impact small businesses have in the marketplace, as well as their influence on larger companies, can help entrepreneurs gain the confidence to see themselves as equal participants in a mutually beneficial relationship.

When you attend the Monica Motivates Fifth Annual Global Supplier Diversity Conference (GSDC) September 22, you will learn from senior company executives and successful entrepreneurs why major corporations are actively seeking relationships with diverse suppliers. You will also learn how to prepare your business to answer the call.

Registration now open

Our impressive roster of speakers includes senior executives from Microsoft, AT&T, The Coca-Cola Company, Santander US, Capital Group, US Small Business Administration, GA Department of Administrative Services, and highly successful small business owners with a broad range of expertise. Complimentary REGISTRATION for virtual attendance is open now and available to all. In-person attendance at the Porsche North American Headquarters in Atlanta is by invitation only.

Your small business is a big deal

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses create two-thirds of net jobs in the U.S. and drive innovation and competitiveness. Small businesses account for more than 99% of companies with paid employees and more than one-third of U.S. exporting value.

Even as large companies grow even larger, they depend on small businesses in many ways. They turn to small businesses as vendors that can offer innovative solutions to specific needs or help them reach new market segments. Agile small businesses frequently can also meet more specialized requirements or pivot quickly to meet unique needs.

Interestingly, small businesses also exert influence on much larger organizations. They are often early adopters of new technologies and catalysts that change the way we work.

A perfect match

What at first can seem like an odd couple, can quickly become a match made in heaven when large corporations and small business owners work together. The key is understanding one another’s needs. That’s what makes attending GSDC so powerful. Entrepreneurs get to hear directly from corporate leaders and procurement specialists about the goods and services they need. How to pitch their company. And even how to service major contracts once they land them.

Company representatives learn about the broad range of vendors available to them, get exposed to innovative new products and services, and gain a better understanding of the working arrangements and financial terms that make it possible for diverse suppliers to work with them.

Before you tie the knot

Even though they don’t often travel in the same circles, multinationals and small businesses really can work well together. A couple things to keep in mind as you work to become a diverse supplier to large companies.

  • Expect more bureaucracy. Large businesses have more complex internal controls and there may be specific rules and regulations you must meet to become an approved vendor. That doesn’t mean you can’t work together; you just need to be diligent about exploring those issues up front.
  • Stay flexible. Your agility is one of the top reasons large companies want to work with you. That can include adapting your products and services to their specifications.
  • Allow more time. Most everything takes longer when you work with a large corporation. Even scheduling a first meeting could take weeks instead of days. Sales cycles and payment cycles tend to be longer. You may need access to additional working capital to make larger outlays for raw materials and supplies up front and to stay afloat while waiting to be paid.
  • Watch your bottom line. It’s exciting to get the green light that a large company wants to work with you; a relationship that could change the trajectory of your business. But run the numbers before you commit. You need to know that you can realistically deliver what they want, when they want it, at a quality that will make them a satisfied customer and you a profitable business owner. If you can’t meet expectations and protect profit margins, it’s better to pass.

Today, more than 95% of U.S. corporations have a supplier diversity goal. As you navigate the opportunity to work together, remember that you bring a unique set of assets and advantages to the table, just like they do. The best relationships in any context are built on mutual respect.