Being an entrepreneurial supplier is exhilarating, but at times challenging. In fact, supply relationship managers involved in enterprise development may have sleepless nights wondering if their small or self-employed suppliers may be considering throwing in the towel because their businesses are not working.
Don Pitsoe, Business Mentor at The Hope Factory offers 10 words of wisdom that supply managers can pass on the next time they are approached by a supplier experiencing difficulties and looking for guidance from corporate procurement, in this month’s SmartProcurement.
A common reason why a small supplier’s businesses may fail is because of their own short sightedness. This must be pointed out to them because, as entrepreneurs, they are responsible for driving their businesses forward.
Here are some tips you can offer to help a supplier focus on working on their business (and your supply relationship):
1. “Have someone who you can be accountable too, such as a mentor. You need to set realistic goals with timelines together with your mentor. When meeting with your mentor ensure that you review goals from previous sessions to ensure that you get maximum value from your relationship.”
2. “Admit that you need to learn, so you can stop making the same mistakes, over and over.”
3. “Stop blaming your employees for your own mistakes; acknowledge problems and devise plans to fix problems. Have crucial conversations immediately when problems arise by using an honest, open, approach and direct conversations.”
4. “You can be wholly self-sufficient, but you need to admit that you don’t know everything you need to know about working ON your business. You need to complement your knowledge and skills with those of other people to thrive. For example, if you’re struggling to manage your business’ finance get someone with financial skills to complement you.”
5. Strive to learn. Your attitude toward training should never be negative. It’s very important that you strive to develop yourself to become an authentic leader. Consider reading leadership and entrepreneurship material to continually grow.”
6. “Do ONLY the right things for ONLY the right reasons. You need to conduct business with integrity to ensure that people trust you and where you cannot deliver communicate with clients immediately. Learn to say “no” because it will help you in retaining your integrity.”
7. “Stay focused on what matters. Business is full of challenges that often affect our family relationships. You need to communicate with all people who could be affected by changes in your business at all times to ensure that they understand your business circumstances. When your business is experiencing challenges and people are aware of those challenges it becomes easier to navigate your way to find solutions.”
8. “Turn failure into business success. All the negativity starts in your head. The reality is that you can change business failure and take the lessons from the challenge. Start attending networking sessions to reach out to people who could inspire you.”
9. “Stop thinking about problems. The best way to solve challenges is to start thinking of solutions. You need to realise that you’re in business to satisfy customer problems, which requires you to become solution-driven as opposed to stalling on problems. List all the problems you have and write solutions to each of the problems. Start working on priority solutions.”
10. “Think of your small business as a franchise – franchises have systems and processes which help to drive internal systems. Not all of us have the ability to develop systems and processes, and therefore you need to acknowledge that you need help and seek assistance, even from Enterprise Development organisations such as The Hope Factory.
Don Pitsoe is a business mentor at The Hope Factory. He has worked with entrepreneurs across a range of industries, advised companies on BBBEE, networking, corporate governance and regulatory affairs.
For more information contact The Hope Factory