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No matter what kind of niche your business is tied to, one of the things that is going to be essential to your success is knowing how to source and buy products effectively. You may have a solid business plan in place and some truly innovative ideas floating around, but if you don’t deal with the right manufacturers, designers, and importers, your company is inevitably going to run into problems. Here are some of my best sourcing tips for first-time business owners.
As you’ve probably discovered by now, there’s nothing template about sourcing for your business. Every product and strategy is going to have its little differences. The kind of circuit boards or membrane switches you need for your current project may look similar to many others, but there are going to be a lot of little nuances and particulars you need to pin down if you want everything to go according to plan. When sourcing, you’re always going to have to go the extra mile to ensure a bright future for your business. Make sure you understand every little facet of the issue, from your buyers’ demands to where you can find the best deal on the products for your current project. Truly successful buying is all about thorough, detailed research, and you need to throw yourself into this.
Making professional connections, whether through LinkedIn and other social networks or at real-world events, can be great for getting in touch with the right people and accessing the products you need for success. Obviously, your time is going to be very stretched in these early stages of your business. However, you should strive to make time for reaching out to designers, store managers, manufacturers, and other professionals who are going to be essential to your supply chain. By rubbing shoulders with the right people, you’ll have access to more detailed information on the products you need to buy, the specifications they need to meet, and the most cost-effective ways of procuring them. Networking has a range of benefits outside of your sourcing process, so make sure you’re not neglecting it!
The importance of being polite, direct, and generally applying great communication skills, can never be underestimated when you’re trying to source components or products. Assuming that you don’t have a procurement team and you’re the main face of your buying process, you’re going to be interacting with people spanning a wide variety of personalities, experiences, and cultures. No matter who you’re interacting with as part of the buying process, it’s exceedingly important to be gracious, professional and clear in all your correspondence. You may think that your communication skills are pretty refined as it is, but looking for ways to better them is never a bad thing. When you’re making a point to improve communications at every phase of the buying process, you’ll be amazed at how much easier sourcing becomes!
Apply these tips from here on, and you’ll have more manageable sourcing.