For small and mid-sized businesses, landing a big contract can be a game changer. But getting to that P.O. can be a project of its own. Here are a few tips to put your best foot forward to get started on the right foot:
- Get certified as a minority-owned business – If your business is at least 51 percent minority-owned and operated, be sure to apply for certification as a minority business enterprise. As a certified MBE, you will be eligible for exclusive consideration under corporate supplier diversity programs as well as U.S. government and state contracts.
- Do your homework – Before you seek a contract with a big corporate, know the value you have and target companies accordingly. Are you more innovative, quicker, or cheaper than your competitors? Identify your competitive advantage and use it to locate opportunities for business development and growth.
- Build relationships – Once you’ve established your targets, work on building relationships with leadership and employees at these companies. Getting your foot in the door can be the most challenging aspect of winning big contracts, but it is that much easier if you know someone.
- Build capacity – The most prominent barrier small and mid-sized businesses face in landing a corporate contract is lack of capacity. Are you sure you can fulfill the terms of the contracts you’re chasing? Use industry cues, helpful hints and insider knowledge to fortify your own supply chain and production processes. Before you seek a corporate contract, be sure you can handle the scope of work while maintaining quality.
- Build your brand – Beyond capacity, credibility and professionalism are “must haves” to land a big corporate contract. Make sure that you are effectively and consistently communicating who your company is and what it brings to the table. Over time, your reputation will precede you. Provide testimonials of former and current customers so that potential corporate partners have proof you can deliver.
- Consider partnering up – If you don’t have the capacity to fulfill a big corporate contract at the moment, think about partnering with another business to fill the gaps and share opportunity.
- Be an expert – If you have an opportunity to pitch a big corporate, demonstrate that you are a specialist in the field. Corporations have thousands of suppliers, and failure to differentiate yourself from the rest could spell failure to secure a contract. Focus on the competitive advantage(s) you bring to the table and be specific about how you can help large organizations solve key problems.
- Be open to learning – Whether or not you are awarded the contract, use the process as an opportunity to learn and improve. Ask for feedback, and focus on how the comments can help you improve your offerings. Consider it a favor that an organization is sharing with you how you can be better, and consider how or whether you may implement their suggestions for success down the road. A “no” today could just be a “yes” tomorrow.
Akin is the author of the book "THE INTERNET: a town square for the global village.
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