Suppliers are very important to your small business. They can make your small business a success or bring your small business down. The customer wants their item faster and cheaper. You want to deliver it that way, plus add in quality, which may depend on the suppliers you get. Payment terms are important plus costs, delivery and trust in the relationship.
The right suppliers are there for the savvy small business owner but how do you find the best ones?
1. Trade shows, associations and magazines
Read a trade magazine and look at the ads. If you don’t know where to go to find trade magazines, try Google, you can find a large trade publication listing for your industry. Several trade magazines are free and on the internet. Glance through them specifically looking at ads. When you find vendors of interest, call them. Ask for a local representative.
Trade shows are key to your small business and finding a supplier. Wander the aisles and learn the latest trends. Collect business cards from suppliers that show promise for future contact. A trade show is the perfect place to meet people, ask what suppliers are the best and get referred.
Call your trade association. They may have lists of suppliers here and abroad, plus additional information that could be of help.
Go to the internet and join discussion groups related to your business. Ask for referrals of suppliers there. Call them to see if a representative is in your area. Call businesses not competing with you, in other geographical areas, that will share their suppliers. Find out if there are representatives in your area. Get referrals at trade shows, and from other suppliers. Be creative and you’ll quickly generate a list.
3. Search the internet
Directories such as www.thomasregister.com for manufacturers are examples found on the internet. Search Google for specific products and use words like wholesale or supplier after your request. And when found, ask for the local representative.
4. Local considerations
You may save time and money on shipping if you can find local suppliers. To find them you can search on the internet, look in the yellow pages or contact your local chamber of commerce.
Finding supplier representatives may be easy but getting them to meet with you may be more difficult. They have limited time and as the old saying goes, time is money. Make sure you have your business plan, and a few letters of reference and credit. Start small and build a relationship.