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10 Points How a Start-up Should Deal With Suppliers

The business wisdom is often quoted that the profit lies in purchasing. But for start-ups in particular, good shopping means more than just getting the cheapest price. Use these 10 simple tips to improve your shopping strategy.

Points How a Start-up Should Deal With Suppliers

10 Points How a Start-up Should Deal With Suppliers

1. Don't make yourself bigger than you are

Relationships with a supplier are just that: relationships. And happy relationships don't start with a lie. You don't have high purchase quantities at the moment and you are not sure how exactly it will develop? Tell your supplier. They then have two options: either they believe in you and your business model, or not. Making statements that cannot be kept later unfortunately only makes you appear as an unreliable business partner. 
It is better to speak openly about the potential developments and develop a concept for each variant together. In my experience, start-ups are currently very popular with many suppliers and receive surprisingly extensive special treatment in the hope of rapid growth. So don't hide what you are, use it.

2. Always pay your bills on time

This point is so banal that I was surprised at how few people take it to heart. There is no easier way to build up a good repute than through an impeccable payment history. If you can't pay, talk openly about it and try to find a solution. Especially in such a situation, which can happen from time to time, you will benefit if you have always been reliable.

3. Take your time

The more precisely you describe your requirements, the fewer problems you will have afterwards. Take the time to discuss every single point and encourage the supplier to get involved in the conversation and to ask stupid questions, even at first glance. Only in this way do you have the opportunity to have the same knowledge in the end and to grasp all eventualities. 
Also take the time to visit the supplier. This not only gives you a clearer picture of the situation and mood on site, but also gives you the opportunity to meet people personally who you otherwise only know from the phone.

4. Don't assume that someone is thinking

Seriously, never assume anything. I've worked with large and professional manufacturers who made the most mundane mistakes. Especially at the beginning you should check everything very carefully and also question the most obvious things and get them confirmed. 
Such a cooperation first has to become established and in case of doubt, you will not be looked after by the field service representative you know personally, but by an overburdened internal service who received a bad handover.

5. Be nice to everyone

The customer may be king, but that doesn't save you from a red wedding either. You never know what the informal structures are like in a company. Your office staff may be much better networked than your field staff and can enable you to do things that you would not have suspected. Be lenient and respectful even when someone makes a mistake. You will be surprised how well you will be looked after if they enjoy working with you.

6. Stand by your word

I was once told that business is trade between people. People need trust and you should earn that. Just imagine that your sales representative is having an awkward conversation with his boss because he has received incorrect information from you. Do you think he will take another risk for you in the future?

7. Have a permanent contact person assigned to you

The better you know your contact person, the more effective the partnership will be. So insist on having a permanent contact person. You don't get along with your contact person? Ask in a friendly manner whether you can change him and give only objective reasons, if at all. You never know what the informal structures are like and your new contact person could be the best buddy of your old one.

8. Don't poach in the industry

Every industry is smaller and better networked than you might think. Are you just not sending out a tender to your current supplier? Assume that he knows an hour later. Try to find out better how individual companies relate to one another and use that. Every supplier has a direct competitor with whom he compares himself and to whom he does not want to lose orders under any circumstances. Such constellations can work wonders.

9. Prepare yourself

As everywhere there are both extremes, full professionals and full posts. Only extremely good preparation helps with both. Don't try to dazzle the full pros, it won't work. I once had someone who could tell by the smell of the tape who was delivering it. 
Your suppliers certainly have no problem explaining something to you, most of them are even happy that you deal more intensively with their product. The most important thing is to recognize the full posts, and that is only possible with preparation.

10. Trust your gut feeling

You also don't buy a car from someone you don't feel good about. At that time I pre-sorted suppliers according to their website. In my experience, someone who does not value their external image does not value other important factors. 
These are then mostly the suppliers who print out the Excel 95 tables and send them by fax. If you don't live in the same world it will always be difficult, and start-ups in particular need suppliers who are flexible and proactive, who think along and know your problems before you knew you had them.