Yesterday, I attended the annual Entrepreneur’s Growth Conference at my alma mater, Duquesne University. I always feel inspired by the advice doled out to both new and long-time entrepreneurs. Yesterday, though, I was inspired for a different reason.
The reason for my inspiration was that several of the workshop speakers discussed vendor relationships and outsourcing amidst the usual fare of getting new customers and building your brand. Here are some specific excerpts from the workshops that I thought that you may enjoy…
Ron Morris, founder of 12 businesses, Duquesne University professor of entrepreneurship, and host of The American Entrepreneur radio show talked about how it can be easier to work with (and switch) vendors than with employees, saying “You have infinite flexibility when you have an outsourced workforce…You can constantly trade up and improve your workforce without all the crap.”
Chris Allison, former CEO of Tollgrade Communications, also is a fan of outsourcing even if it is more expensive, saying “You’re going to give up a little margin, but why do you need the headcount?” However, he never recommends outsourcing sales activities, noting a lack of loyalty among the outside reps who are happy to sell for anyone for whom they “carry the bag” including your competitors.
Steven Breuner, who built 48 Supercuts hair salons in Pennsylvania and later sold them, stressed the importance of building good vendor relationships. He said “Vendors are partners. Just like employees, if you work with them, they will help you build your business. Treat them like customers because they will tell people about your business, too.”
In the 11 years that I’ve been attending this conference, I welcome the shift. Building a successful business is not all about getting customers. The supply side matters, too. And the fact that experienced business leaders are imparting this message to new entrepreneurs means a lot about the importance of the profession.
To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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