How to Leverage Your Supply Chain to Grow Your Business

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We’ve all heard the phrase, “business is about relationships.” This is true. Having the right relationships are a key driver towards accomplishing your personal and professional goals.

While an external advisory board, consisting of a business banker, business attorney, accountant, financial planner, and a business consultant, can help you develop your overall strategy, you’ll need partners who are in the trenches with you.

It’s important to cultivate a network whose interests are aligned with your success. Your suppliers are an essential component of your growth plan.

Here are three ways to leverage your supply chain to grow your business.
Referrals

In a 2015 survey polled by Verizon and Small Business Trends, 85% said word of mouth is the most common way customers learn about their businesses.

It is imperative that you are educating your suppliers on the products and services that you offer. Show them how you solve your customer’s most pressing issues.

Referrals are a two way street. Schedule a meeting with your suppliers on a quarterly basis. Ask them who their ideal customers are and how you can help. This is a great way to establish trust and create long-term opportunities.

By demonstrating your value, you’ll position your business as a viable candidate for referrals.

Credit

It is well known that growing companies lack access to capital. In a 2013 report by the National Association of Small Business Owners, 35% of business owners were unable to obtain financing.

While some traditional lenders have relaxed their underwriting requirements since then, entrepreneurs still face obstacles.

Fortunately, there are options available. An often overlooked form of financing is supply chain financing. Supplier financing or reverse factoring allows businesses to extend their payment terms to suppliers to lower their business expenses.

As an alternative to traditional lending, businesses are able to secure funds faster and often at a lower cost than they would receive through bank financing.
It is worthwhile to have a conversation with your suppliers. By negotiating favorable terms and establishing credit, you’ll be able to optimize your cash flow and accelerate your growth.

Joint Ventures

As an entrepreneur you do not have to go at it alone. Building strategic alliances with other businesses will allow you to access new markets and create new sources of revenue.

Many larger businesses, including Salesforce and Microsoft, have partner networks. There are hundreds of smaller businesses that also have partner programs.

By connecting with companies who sell to your market, you can leverage their resources to expand your business. Identify several firms who serve your customers with great products or services and align yourself.

Ask to have their logo listed on your website as a partner. This will help you increase your visibility and credibility.

By leveraging the resources of your supply chain partners, you’ll position yourself as a formidable player in your market. Continue to communicate your value and look for opportunities to help your partners expand and they’ll reciprocate.

Becoming a strategic partner is a guaranteed way to increase your competitive advantage and increase your profits. Consult with a business advisor about developing strategic partnerships. They’ll be able to help you create the best solution for you and your business.

(Levar Haffoney is a 2016 Network Journal 40 Under Forty honoree. He is a principal with Fayohne Advisors LLC. You can connect with him at www. fayohne. com, LinkedIn and Facebook.)