Now more than ever, it is SMEs who are one of the main drivers of the UK economy.
Over 99% of companies in the UK are SMEs, and with a combined turnover of billions of pounds, it’s little wonder that the government is so keen to support their growth. Part of the way they’re enabling expansion is by encouraging SMEs to work in collaboration with some of the larger players of the business world.
Mutually beneficial relationship
Most large businesses recognise the value of their smaller counterparts.
SMEs can bring expertise, experience, and provide a number of niche solutions to assist with each and every area of business management. They allow big businesses, which may not have the time or in-house resources to deal with the smaller or more complex details, to outsource to a knowledgeable, local provider who can complement their strategy and help them to achieve their wider business goals.
It’s not just the larger businesses who benefit, either.
Smaller businesses can become involved with big contracts which they might not have otherwise had access to, or bid for in their own right. They can also gain access to a wider scope of resources and experience.
You may have doubts that your SME can compete for access to the mega-corporations, but don’t be so quick to judge. Many big companies are looking for businesses just like yours, regardless of your size, to provide them with the goods and services that they need.
The presence of small businesses in communities is vital for grassroots economies, and large companies want access to new, high-quality and good-value products. Don’t underestimate your company’s value.
So you want to grow, and you want to reach out to a bigger business. How do you do that?
Well the first step is to have the courage to approach the big players, and be able to tell them what makes your product or service unique. You must be clear about the problem you intend to solve, so do your research and present a proposition that leaves the customer in no doubt about where you can add value.
Big companies are usually more risk-averse than SMEs, so they want to know that you’re not going to let them down. They want reliability. This is often because they’re accountable to someone else; either a senior director or other management. But don’t panic- worries such as these can usually be mitigated by providing case studies, references and bank guarantees.
If a small company can create a case study from an existing customer, it can give the bigger firm more confidence in its brand proposition. Existing customers can make some of the best salespeople for you if you treat them properly, and it can be very persuasive to show a prospective client how you’re able to solve a problem successfully for others.
However, it’s also important to know when to walk away. Sometimes a big corporate entity will have binding supplier agreements which make it impossible for them to do business with you. But if this is the case, you simply need to move on to someone else who has more to offer.
Creating an eco-system of small and large players
Small and large companies have very different ways of operating, so beware of miscommunication. If both sides are cooperative, then it’s often possible to establish a working relationship which can draw on the strengths of both.
The collaboration of SMEs and larger companies has the potential to unlock wonderful new possibilities for your company, and can support the growth, talent and innovation needed to keep Britain’s economy strong.
All your business needs is a bit of courage. So remember, the big companies you are selling into were once small, too.