A dream: I have been named by Google as their exclusive supplier of educational content for all their small business resellers.
To have a large and respected corporation like Google as a customer is a small business owner’s dream. It typically brings with it a steady revenue source as well as brand prestige and recognition. This is not as unrealistic as it sounds. In fact, a driving growth factor for many small businesses is a large company as a major customer.
Getting large companies to be your customer is a common way to grow rapidly. Here are the steps to take:
- List the targeted large corporations. These should be ones that have a demonstrated need that your business can solve. They should have a record of buying your types of products or services from small businesses.
- Find the right person inside the company. Many times there is an employee that has specific responsibilities for using vendors that are small businesses or ones that are minority or women owned status. If this corporation does a large amount of work with local, state of federal governments, they may even have requirement to do a certain amount of business with your size or type of company.
- Find someone to help. Ask your professional and social network for introductions to people they know inside the targeted large corporations. Almost any contact will do in order to get past the traditional company gate keepers.
- Find a program. The SBA has specific programs designed to help small businesses get sales from the federal government. Many Chamber of Commerces also have mentor programs to link up local small business with large corporate headquarters in their area.
The influx of revenue from a large corporation can bring dangers to the small business. Here are the big ones to avoid:
1. Cash flow crunch. Many corporations negotiate longer payment terms and small businesses accept them. Be aware of the cash flow problems this can cause by paying for cost of goods or services well in advance of payments from this customer. Do the math in a cash flow statement to measure the exposure.
2. Over expansion to meet short term demand. Large corporations can boost a small businesses sales quickly but they can change course and leave just as fast. Get written longer term commitments for any major investment of capital to meet their demand.
3. Revenue concentration in one customer. Many growing businesses have at least one customer that is 25% or 50% of their revenue. This can be a precarious position for any company. Seek customer diversity as an ongoing goal.
Tell me your story on how a large corporation drove the growth of your business.