Tapping Supplier Diversity To Energize Your Business

Key advice for entrepreneurs who want to establish and grow business with major corporations

Check for a corporation’s local supplier diversity initiatives. Many minority- and female-owned firms are two small to handle a major contract with national or global corporations such as Macy’s and Wal-Mart. Don’t give up. Check with local or regional corporate representatives for local opportunities. Not every corporation has such initiatives, but identifying those that do could be a worthwhile exercise.

Aubyn Thomas 

Aubyn Thomas

For example, says Sam’s Club/Wal-Mart’s White, their are opportunities for local growers of produce as well as construction businesses to supply goods and services to stores at in their respective areas, with managers at the store and regional managers responsible for helping to identify and establish such relationships. “This helps to reduce our carbon footprint–for example, by stocking apples from a local grower instead of trucking them in from a supplier in another state,” White explains. “That way, a small vendor can perhaps start locally and eventually grow to scale [to handle larger contracts].”

Present your company’s products and services as solutions. Says White, “You need to be able to passionately explain why your company is the solution are company needs. However, be honest and as transparent as possible–do not over-promise!” It’s good to over-deliver, but better if you under-promise and manage expectations, while serving the needs of the corporate partner and its customers.

Thomas adds, “When I ask, ‘What can your company do for Macy’s?’, it’s not enough to answer, ‘Anything Macy’s needs me to do.’ ” You have to truly understand the needs of the corporation, explaining specifically how you are prepared to so business with them. Investing time and energy into understanding the corporation’s culture, business challenges, problems and objectives is necessary in order for you to prepare a competitive bid.

Learn more about Wal-Mart’s Supplier Diversity programs

Learn more about Macy’s Supplier Diversity programs

Alfred Edmond Jr. is the editor-in-chief of BlackEnterprise.com.

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