Target 2-small

Are you involved in small business capacity building?

If you are a supplier diversity, purchasing or supply chain management professional, then odds are you have found it challenging to identify and comfortably promote many of the small businesses that approach your organization. Perhaps there is doubt that they can perform or that they are operationally stable.

Let’s be honest, in your role, the last thing you want is for your recommendations to come back to bite you. After all, you have professional aspirations of your own.

It’s a slippery slope. Promoting small businesses and finding opportunities to integrate them into the company’s operations or projects is the reason for your position, as well as how you are measured.  Likewise, you know that your enterprise cannot function and innovate solely on the resources it has in-house; no company can. But it is clear more of these smaller firms need business development assistance that goes beyond lending and training.

Now is the time to get smarter about quantifying exactly what each firm needs so that you can justify and leverage your diversity investments and programs. With the FLITER Business & Leadership Rating Scale you will gain:

  • Confidence in your recommendations by gained insight into the operational strength and points of vulnerability your small and diverse suppliers face
  • Credibility as your recommendations drive value for your department and business goals
  • Data and helpful information regarding the small businesses’ capabilities

Interdependence exists among large organizations and small to mid-size companies. Small and mid-sized companies often provide specialization and offer advantages by virtue of their size that larger corporations and government simply cannot. Among those advantages are benefits accrued by the corporation as a direct result of working with the small provider. Small business benefits include adaptation, speed, flexibility, cost, innovation, customized solutions, narrow focus, nimble decision making, and close client relationships based on a desire to satisfy the need and gain the next opportunity.

Today, shifting demographics and consumer tastes demand a more diverse approach. The enterprise increases economic value as a result of the inclusion of small, diverse firms in their overall strategies for market penetration or product expansion.

The FLITER Business & Leadership Rating Scale is like a gap analysis on steroids. It can provide the supplier diversity and purchasing professional with quantifiable information and insight into whether the company has the capacity, structure and business acumen to fulfill contracts. This insight can support your business goals, satisfy government requirements, reduce costs, gain recognition and please stakeholders.

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The Progress Cha Cha

Last week I met ShoeChaChawith a group of business owners in Houston, TX.  It is an impressive group of sharp, committed, leaders who meet monthly for the purpose of professional development.  They are clearly intent on the profitable growth of their enterprises.  The average age of the companies is 11.2 years, although three of the 13 businesses represented are more than 20 years old.  Certainly, these firms have experienced the kind of longevity that brings with it lessons in leadership as well as occasions to display resilience because no day goes exactly as planned.  There are achievements and there are setbacks; there are spontaneous, unanticipated events and there are grand surprises!

We discussed these occurrences within the context of what we referred to as the Progress Cha Cha.

Like the popular Afro-Cuban dance, the Progress Cha Cha, seems to have unique timing, rhythm and movement as its central elements.  How many times have you heard it said, “I can’t seem to get anywhere; as soon as I take two steps forward, I take one step back.”?

This was part of the Houston conversation last week.  And although I am by no means a renowned dancer, for the sake of example I demonstrated what it physically looked like to take two steps forward and one step back. Then I repeated it again and again and again; each time gaining confirmation that this was what they felt their experiences had been.

The demonstration sped up, seemed to appear as though it were a dance step. Just for fun you should try it.  Go to one end of the room and work your way to the other end, by sequentially taking two steps forward and one step back over and over until you reach the farthermost wall.

You will note what we observed as well, that in spite of the appearance of failure (regressive steps), or conversation of setbacks, it is the reality of achievement that there be forward as well as backward movement. Together they form progress.

To label backward movement as failure is as unnecessary as it is to label forward movement, achievement. Such labeling is indicative of a lack of understanding. Movement is movement. Both directions are essential to completion.  Both serve needed purposes and teach lessons. Together they are transitive, in that each of the two directional steps in the place of the other, change positions to take us somewhere else. Not where we are currently. Not where we have been, but leading us to where we are going next. This alternating position has the potential to provide new insights and opportunities. That said it appears that attainment of any objective is rhythmic with recurring intervals or patterns of built in periods of movement, direction and rest.  It only stops when the object in motion (that would be you), ceases all effort; until that time there is constant, sometimes almost imperceptible movement. It is like that in everything; sports, business, science…

Expect that you are in that same flow; following the natural rhythm to achievement, the Progress Cha Cha, if you will.  Do not think that there is a special movement for you but you are part and parcel of the One Movement that is continually at work indiscriminately for us all.

Predictability

BizAnalysisTo some small business owners the word predictability is synonymous with boring. It smacks of structure, order and consistency. These may be nuisances to the freewheeling, caffeine pumped entrepreneur. It impedes upon their hunting instincts and causes them to slow down when they would rather be enlisting new accounts.

Never mind that once their charming enthusiasm fades, the customer wonders if anything can be delivered or performed the same way more than once. It comes as no surprise that larger customers need order. After all, they more than likely work in a hierarchical organization where risk is to be managed or averted; not celebrated.

Predictability is what lets the client know what to expect. It is a funny thing in that predictability requires a certain amount of balance. Being totally predictable can be viewed as boring. Likewise it can leave the small business vulnerable to competitors who can figure out their game plan. On the other hand, predictability is seen as a good thing when the business has customers that feel that they can rely on your company’s consistent, steadiness. If the customer is a large corporation it will likely be impressed and reward the small business that seems to have its act together as demonstrated by its reliable products, knowledgeable staff and proven earnings.

Indeed repetition and consistency have a place in every successful organization; and it is usually where the expectation of a thing aligns with the experience of it. The psychological effect results in feelings of satisfaction or relief. Indeed, salesmanship may win buyers but the consistency of effective practices and structure will keep them satisfied. To a large degree without the support of what is expected, the unexpected is also unwanted.