Supply chain for the win?

Growing a small business is no mean feat. Identifying and realising business opportunities can feel, at times, like it is down to good luck and timing.

In my time working with growing organisations, developing a supply chain position and relationships have been key to my clients opening new doors for their businesses.

This article looks at some of the barriers to business growth and offers some ways in which being part of a supply chain can help to remove or break them down.

Definition: A supply chain is a system of organisations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.

Lack of track record for that type of work.

You have identified a contract opportunity that you believe your organisation has the skillset and capability to deliver. You are reviewing the scope document and then you see that the buyer is looking for x years delivery experience and you realise that your organisation doesn’t meet the time served criteria.

Solution – identify an organisation that has the years’ experience required, but ideally doesn’t have the capacity to resource the opportunity solo. If they are a larger organisation than yours, discuss with them if you can join their supply chain in a named delivery capacity against an area of scope. This will enable your organisation to further build a track record for the type of work, so that eventually you can qualify for it solo.

If your organisation is the larger organisation in this scenario, you will be seeking a company/companies to join your supply chain so that you can meet the scope requirements.

Too few resources

The proposed scope is something you can deliver; however, you do not have enough available resources to fulfil the work in the required timescale. (And you will not have time to recruit!)

Solution – check which organisations in your supply chain have qualified and available resources to help form a team. Teaming with a partner or working with a subcontractor, will help to demonstrate you have the capacity to deliver and will help to allay any buyer’s concerns that you don’t have enough people to get the job done.

Your skillset suits e.g. 50% of the scope

Your organisation can deliver a proportion of the scope well and it is a great opportunity to position yourself with that client. However how do you address/fulfil the other proportion, so you have a complete offer?

Solution – Partner! Bringing together complimentary skillsets will enable both organisations to access an opportunity you each couldn’t fulfil alone. This mutually beneficial approach will provide the client with strength, range and depth of delivery.

Financially your organisation is too small

You have the skills to deliver the scope, but your turnover does not meet the financial requirements for the contract.

Solution – subcontracting to a larger organisation that does meet the financial criteria, or gaining their backing, is one way in which you can gain access to the contract opportunity. Collaborating with another organisation of similar size to your own, could also provide a way to satisfy the financial criteria.

In summary

Supply chains and collaborations can be a great way of gaining a share of a larger contract or access to a contract that your organisation would have been unable to access solo. The first steps to establishing your supply chain or joining a supply chain, is to develop relationships with other businesses in your sector.   Undertaking a collaborative approach can provide the foot in the door that enables you to grow your business.