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How to Find Good Small Business Supplies and Suppliers

October 23rd, 2009

small-business-supply.jpgWhen sourcing small business supplies, the more you and your suppliers act like partners, the fewer problems you’ll have. However, in order to act like partners you’ll need to be well suited to each other. Partnerships, whether between individuals or companies, require that the whole partnership equals more than just the sum of its parts. The best partnerships are those in which the parties complement each other, providing skills, traits, and abilities the other lacks.

The classic example of this symbiotic relationship is a retail partnership between an “inside person” who focuses on the bookkeeping, management, and buying supplies and an “outside person” who concentrates on the sales, marketing, and promotion. The equivalent example of a business/supplier partnership is a small entrepreneurial business that focuses on its core operation, which teams up with a large full-service supplier that provides every kind of customer service under the sun. Such a relationship will work wonderfully because the supplier offers exactly what the entrepreneur needs, while the entrepreneur provides the one thing the supplier lacks, an outlet to sell their products to consumers. As long as your relationships with your small business suppliers fit this partnership model, you should have relatively few problems.

Always look for the best deal on your small business supplies. If you could get a better deal, either from this supplier or another one, then you are, in effect, losing money. A better deal not only involves price but also terms, promotional help, and marketing allowances as well.

Don’t focus on the fact that you’ve been personally cheated. Instead, concentrate on getting a lower price, better terms, more promotional help, or a larger marketing allowance. The idea is not to worry about the fact that you’re being shortchanged, but to fixate on the actual amounts involved. That way you’ll keep from becoming emotional.

There are two ways to determine whether or not you’re getting the best deal possible. First, you can speak with your competitors or third parties who have knowledge about your competitors’ operations. Second, and preferably, you can go out and solicit better offers from other suppliers.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that your supplier is knowingly shortchanging you on your small business supplies. The individuals you work with may not know of special deals that have been worked out with other businesses. Similarly, your supplier may have no idea of what kind of deals its own competitors are offering. Because you may be bringing them “news”, it’s important to provide them with as much documentation as possible so they trust your numbers. That’s difficult in the case of inside information you’ve gathered about a competitor’s operation. However, you should be able to provide enough detail so they can conduct an internal investigation. In the case of a better offer from another supplier, you’ll need to show them some written documentation.

This article on sourcing small business supplies and suppliers was sent to us by “Chenting”, a member of the DigitalPoint forums.

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