Sep 13, 2017

Tips for doing business with the big end of town

Tips for doing business with the big end of town

Emerald-based businesswoman and keen blogger Bronwyn Reid has added ‘author’ to her credentials with a new book drawing on her experiences in dealing with larger corporations.

Small Company, Big Business is aimed at small business owners who are looking to start taking on contracts with the big end of town.

“This is part of the growth path for any small business that wants to move out of the struggle zone,” Ms Reid said.

“But doing that is very difficult for a lot of small businesses.  What I have done in the book is outline the five steps that any small business owner needs to tackle in order to be able to be a reliable, successful and profitable supplier to big organisations.”

Small Company, Big Business author Bronwyn Reid

She draws on practical experience.

Ms Reid and husband Ian Rankine began environmental consultancy 4T Consultants in Emerald just over 20 years ago, sparked by an opportunity to write a series of technical manuals on plantation agriculture.

“We did not come away with a very good deal. That reflected the difference in power between the two parties, us and an international agribusiness organisation, and also partly reflected our knowledge at the time,” she said.

“We realised that if we were going to continue in business we had to get better at how we dealt with these big companies.”

4T started dealing with more large corporations, including mining companies, and when Ms Reid won some business awards she found herself being asked for advice by other businesspeople.

In 2014 she started her Mining for Business consultancy – since rebranded as Small Company, Big Business – passing on the knowledge through forums including workshops, blogs, webinars and eBooks.

Ms Reid is also involved in community work including the Bowen Basin Business Development Initiative, the Queensland Rural Regional and Remote Women’s Network and the CQU Rockhampton Regional Engagement Committee.

“Everything I do comes from the central aim of building sustainable regional communities – and the part that I can play in that is helping small business, that is where my expertise lies,” she said.

Her self-published book, which she describes as a practical guide, is due out in October.

In a nutshell, the steps she outlines in Small Company, Big Business are:

  1. Understand your buyer.

“You need to understand how big companies think and what they expect of you,” Ms Reid said.

  1. Set the foundations

Ms Reid stresses the need for a business plan, a business vision, and goals. She says also businesses need to have a good team – both internal and external, such as a good accountant, banker and lawyer.

  1. Simplify the complexity

This centres on getting your business systems in order. “The one thing that big organisations want is consistency,” Ms Reid said.

“They want it delivered in full, on time, with quality every time and that’s where a lot of small businesses fall down.

“The cure for that is to have really robust and documented business systems.”

  1. Make yourself known

The first place people will look for you these days is online, but Ms Reid said many small businesses did not even have a website.

“Small businesses need to understand that having a credible digital footprint is part of the process,” she said.

  1. Tell your story

“This is an introduction to the whole world of tenders – RFPs (request for proposal), RFTs (request for tender), all of that language around procurement, where to find them (tender documents), how to analyse them, how to write them and also about telling your own business story,” Ms Reid said.

She said businesses must be able to highlight what made them different to their competitors and give a compelling account of why the prospective customer should pick them.

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