Growing Your Business Through Supplier Diversity
By Yanina Rosario
August 4, 2017
Do you check the traffic before getting on the road? Perhaps you use an app that suggests best routes. Do you do research to identify your targeted customer? I speak to entrepreneurs about the many certified business enterprise options often. As important as understanding the differences among certifications is, it is crucial to understand who buys what you sell.
Your business development research should start with reading about past purchases made by your potential buyer. This information will give you a good indication about how much they spend in procuring what you sell. Based on this finding, you can then decide what your next steps will be – register as a vendor, become certified, go somewhere else, etc. This information might be easily accessible online for government agencies. Otherwise, a Purchasing Officer, Small Business Liaison, or Diversity Manager will be the source of information. Here are some tips to get your business set up for supplier diversity success:
Register as a vendor
Any corporation and government agency with whom you want to do business will require that you register as a vendor. This is regardless of whether you are a certified business or not. Individuals with purchasing power utilize their list of the registered vendors to procure the products or services they need.
If a company or agency has a supplier diversity program, you must register as a vendor and then secure an appointment with their diversity manager. This person will become your friend and champion. Be prepared to speak about your ability to meet their needs, demonstrate that you understand their purchasing process and how much of what you offer was procured in the past. Your research should also provide information on which certification(s) is recognized by the entity. There are women, minority, veteran, service-disabled veteran, and small categories. Certificates are awarded by different agencies, so it is important that you find out which one is best so that your certification process is strategic.
Be ready to perform
One of the most common problems that small businesses face in their quest to grow through supplier diversity is their capacity to fulfill contracts. Therefore, part of your research should be to evaluate if your company has the ability to successfully complete a contract or has the resources in place to achieve this goal. You may determine that you should find a complementary business that will strengthen your ability to perform. Perhaps your cash flow is tight; therefore, you need to begin the conversation with your banking institution about possible access to cash should you successfully secure a contract.
Go somewhere else
If your research indicates that your potential target market does not procure your product or service or the amount procured is too small to make this a profitable endeavor for you, then look somewhere else.
One of the goals of time put towards research of markets is to develop a strategic plan of action that will yield positive results, i.e. strengthening your bottom line and helping you grow through vendor and supplier diversity opportunities.
Associate Director, Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa
Specialty: Women/Minority/Veteran Certification
Yanina Rosario, Florida SBDC at USF associate director and certified business consultant, specializes in business certifications, business planning, and marketing. She oversees operations in Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. Rosario’s expertise comes from more than 16 years of guiding pre-venture and well-established business owners through procurement, licensing, planning, marketing and financing, helping clients secure more than $3.2 million in small business loans. Rosario serves on the board of directors for the CareerSource Tampa Bay, is a member of the City of Tampa Equal Business Opportunity Advisory Committee, and the Minority Enterprise Development Week (MED Week) planning committee. She manages the Florida SBDC at USF’s Emergency Bridge Loan Committee. Rosario obtained a bachelor degree in marketing from the University of Central Florida and a masters in management from the Florida Institute of Technology.