Collaborating with sustainable partners and suppliers – and how you structure your collaboration – can become instrumental in the longevity of your business or startup. Before you say “Yes I can!” to one more potential customer who is asking you “Can you do this?” stop! Take a deep breath and consider your own business case.
Far too many businesses and startups are so busy trying to acquire new customers that they put consideration of their infrastructure on the back burner. Does your company have a “We’ll worry about it when we get there” or “We’ll make it up as we are go along” philosophy to output? If so, you may be short-changing yourself from ever “getting there” in the first place.
Kauffman Foundation findings from the 2013 Economic Gardening Conference related that new businesses and startups are starting smaller and staying smaller. The dust of the 2008 economic debacle has firmly settled. We aren’t going back to where we were; the financial ecosystem has been redistributed. These findings impact how you collaborate with internal customers in your own company. These findings influence your external collaborative relationships with sustainable partners and suppliers. These findings factor into what it takes to create a sustainable customer base. Wow. Business not-quite-as-usual.
As a business owner or startup CEO, you must grow your business acumen beyond your technical, engineering or sales capabilities. When you create your business, even if you are a solopreneur or tiered sub-contractor, your business model should anticipate selecting partners and suppliers that complement the size and composition of your desired business ecosystem. That same type of consideration is involved when you select the types of customers you wish to work with (yes, you select them based on the capabilities of your collaborative network of your own partners and suppliers)! Can your infrastructure sustain the desired business ecosystem you are targeting from your customers’ businesses?
- Who are the people you need to be collaborating with to create input-throughput-output for your company? Those are your sustainable partners and suppliers, internal colleagues and collaborators.
- What types of customers will utilize your deliverables to sustain their own businesses? Those are your sustainable external customers and colleagues.
That’s an entirely different type of collaborative business equation that you grew up with. That makes your partners and suppliers more than plug-and-play, interchangeable components to your output. When considered in this manner, what type of sustainable partners and suppliers do you wish to do business with?
Make these choices as if your entire business future depends on them. Successfully collaborating with sustainable partners and suppliers impacts the longevity of your business. How might you develop a specification list for identifying and vetting sustainable and collaborative partners and suppliers?
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, catalyzes business transition, startup growth, and professional development. She works with non-traditional sellers, engineers, manufacturers, and technical startups creating sustainable legacy business models. Her book on sales and engineering collaboration strategies, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.