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Verizon Business Markets Blog

Employee Employee ‎03-18-2014 12:17 PM

Guest post by Monya Emery, Verizon’s Supplier Diversity Manager, working closely with small business owners across the country to help them become one of Verizon’s vendors.

 

Deciding to do business with a large corporation is a major decision, and it can be a challenging task. Lots of small business owners dream of one day working with large companies. They see themselves bidding on and winning contracts, while growing their small businesses into global forces.

 

Over the years Verizon has worked with countless small businesses. Some of these partnerships have been successful, and others not so much. To help small business owners who may be considering whether to vie for a larger company’s work, we will periodically offer a series of tips on this site.  Here is the first one:

 

iStock_000036752826Small - jigsaw puzzle.jpgDo the Research

When you identify the corporation you are interested in working with, you need to know as much about that business as possible. Research is critical, and the best place to begin is the company’s website. Large corporations often have exceptional websites that, in addition to the products and services they sell, also include a host of valuable tidbits about other aspects of the business. These include the names, bios, and often pictures of the company’s top executives; the company’s mission and values; data about sales, revenue and financial performance; the latest news; and new innovations and facts about the company’s direction for the future.

 

On the company’s website, you will often find a page that discusses how it works with outside suppliers, its supply chain or procurement processes, what products and services are procured and the minimum requirements to do business with the company. For instance, many companies will only work with suppliers that have been in business for a number of years, that are legally bonded and insured or that have certain industry certifications. You may also be able to get insight into whether the company’s procurement process is formal or informal, centralized or decentralized. In addition, large companies will often require new suppliers or vendors to register in a special database and complete preliminary paperwork. Quite a bit of this information can be located right on the website.

 

Most corporate websites also have a corporate responsibility (CR) page, which shows the corporation’s impact on the communities it serves.  As an example, check out Verizon’s CR website here. This may be a way for your small business to work with some of the corporation’s CR initiatives.

 

If you are a diverse supplier, look for links to the corporation’s supplier diversity page (check out Verizon’s Supplier Diversity website) to learn about the policies and processes that help such suppliers do business with the corporation.  Diverse suppliers are usually required to be certified as Minority, Woman, Veteran or Service Disabled Veteran-owned Business Enterprises (MWDVBEs) through a third-party advocacy organization, such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council or a government agency. Diverse suppliers may be asked to provide the corporation with copies of certification documentation and register in a diverse supplier database. 

 

Once you check out the company’s website, don’t stop there. Do an Internet search on the company to find the latest news, articles and other resources that will be helpful to you. Determine if this corporation is planning to launch new products or services, if it has recently won a contract or if it is subcontracting to other businesses. Knowing who a company’s subcontractors are can give you a leg up in doing business with that corporation because there may be opportunities for you to become a second tier supplier (a vendor with an indirect contract that supports that company’s procurement needs). 

 

Thorough research helps you to better understand the corporation’s needs, and it gives you valuable insight into how your business can help meet those needs. Don’t just walk in expecting a contract because you offer a great product(s) or service; figure out how your small business can enhance the corporation’s current processes or solve a problem.  Be able to provide current and effective recommendations and solutions.

 

Large companies will definitely notice if you fail to do the research.  It may take a bit of time and tenacity up front, but it’s easy to do and will be so very worth it to your small business if and when you secure that contract.

 

Be sure to check back again soon for additional tips on how to work with larger companies. And if you are in the midst of trying to work with a large company, share how your research is going.

                                                                                                         

Employee Employee ‎03-18-2014 01:55 PM

Monya.pngGuest post by Monya Emery, Verizon’s Supplier Diversity Manager, working closely with small business owners across the country to help them become one of Verizon’s vendors.

 

Now that the holidays are over it’s time to get down to business.  You’ve made your resolutions and set your goals. And this year your main goal is to become an entrepreneur. Yes, you want to be in the elite category of being one of the nation’s small business owners. Maybe you’ve dreamed of launching a small business for years or perhaps it’s a new aspiration.  In either case, starting a small business can be one of the most exciting, exhilarating and challenging experiences of your life. There are a lot of decisions to make and a lot of moving parts to consider. These 10 easy steps can help you launch the small business of your dreams by taking some of the guesswork out of the start-up process.

 

Do the Research – It’s important to start by thoroughly researching everything possible about your industry and your product or service. Who are your competitors? Who are their customers?  What is their pricing like? How do they market? Mali Phonpadith, Author and CEO of Mali Creative, a marketing and messaging company, says, “Look closely at companies in your industry that are in the first five years of business and take note of what they have done well.  Study their strengths and weaknesses to determine how your products or services can fill the gap in the industry.”  Phonpadith also recommends looking at customer reviews on sites like Yelp to get a better idea of the company’s buzz. All of this information will help you determine what will differentiate your small business from all the others.

 

Develop a Business Plan – Write a business plan, and keep it as simple as possible. Your plan should clearly state how your product or service can solve a problem or fulfill a need. The plan should outline details about your core products or services, as well as your business goals and how you plan to reach them. Focus on one or two primary business areas and don’t try to be everything to everybody.  Include a budget which details your pricing, the cost of doing business and your profit. 

 

A good business plan should also incorporate a comprehensive marketing/advertising plan that discusses various types of media to get the word out about your business. For example, include details about collateral (business cards, flyers and brochures), traditional media (print, television or radio ads), social media (FaceBook, Twitter and customer review sites) and digital media (websites, paid ads and Search Engine Optimization). Remember, no matter how great your product or service is it won’t sell if no one knows about it.

 

Choose a Business Structure – Choose your business structure carefully.  Deciding whether your small business should be a sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a corporation can greatly influence many factors regarding the business.  And note, the business structure you initially choose can be changed as the needs of the business change.

 

Differentiate Your Diverse Business – Can you establish your business as a diverse business? A diverse business is a for-profit company, regardless of size, that is physically located in the United States or its trust territories, which is owned, operated and controlled by minorities (United States citizens who are Asian, African American, Hispanic and Native American), women, veterans, or service-disabled veterans.  These businesses are often referred to as Minority, Woman, or Service-Disabled Veteran-owned Business Enterprises (MWDVBEs). Ownership by minority individuals means the business is at least 51 percent owned by such individuals or, in the case of a publicly owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals. Further, the management and daily operations are controlled by those diverse group members. Organizations such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), as well as state and local government agencies, certify small businesses as diverse if the company meets the requirements.

 

There are a vast number of federal and corporate programs that recognize or assist small businesses that are diverse. Many large corporations, like Verizon, have supplier diversity teams who help to identify small diverse businesses that are qualified to compete for procurement opportunities.  For information on how your business might work with Verizon, visit www.verizon.com/about/supplier_diversity/.

 

Secure Licenses and Permits - Depending on the type of business you are launching and where you are located, you may need to obtain certain licenses and permits to do business. In order to ensure that your business is operating legally, research what your company will need to get it up and running.

 

Register Your Small Business – You must register your business’ name. First check to see if it is trademarked or currently in use by another company. Once that process is complete, you will need to determine what government agencies you will need to register with based on the type of business you have and its location.

 

Network – Once your business is established you will want to get out and network, network and network again.  Joining industry associations or your local Chamber of Commerce will not only allow you to meet the competition, but it will also allow you to meet potential partners and mentors. Check out local business journals or search online for upcoming events in your area.

 

According to motivational speaker and coach, Renee’ Spratling, CEO of Renee’ Speaks, “Networking opportunities are important because they can drive sales.”  In 2013, Spratling attended one networking event per week, and from that 52-week commitment, she received 15 referrals, 7 of which turned into actual sales.  Spratling said, “by not networking all you have to lose is business.”

 

Perfect Your Pitch – Develop an elevator pitch so you can sum up your business in 60 seconds or less to anyone and at anytime. Make sure you have lots of business cards on you at all times, and don’t forget to follow-up when the networking session is over. Good follow-up is critical to the success of your business.

 

Seek Mentors – As you network and develop relationships, identify more experienced entrepreneurs who can give you advice and assistance, which could lead to possible referrals. A mentor can be a sounding board, provide guidance or be your accountability partner. When you establish a mentoring relationship, set clear objectives and be open to constructive criticism. It will give you a new perspective on how you are running your business and help you grow your business.

 

Supplier Diversity Team – If your company is a small diverse business and you are planning to compete on commercial contracts, reach out to the Supplier Diversity team at the corporation you’re attempting to work with. Supplier Diversity team members can assist you with the company’s supplier registration process and they can provide helpful tips about the sourcing and procurement process.  They can also make introductions to key stakeholders.  Government agencies have similar departments and teams that manage their supplier diversity process. Team members are often referred to as the small business liaisons or directors and their departments may be called Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization  or OSDBUs.

 

Use Resources – There are lots of resources out there to help you launch, grow or streamline your small business. There are tons of apps, books, magazines, software, websites and whitepapers, and don’t forget your network.  Learn from them and use them. Reach out to your mentors and other colleagues for assistance and referrals. People will help you if you just ask and be sure to offer them your services too.

 

In addition to your network, visit these helpful websites:

 

Small Business Association – www.sba.gov

The National Minority Supplier Development Council – www.nmsdc.org/nmsdc/

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council www.wbenc.org

Verizon Supplier Diversity – www.verizon.com/supplierdiversity

Verizon Small Business – www.verizon.com/smallbusinessblog

 

These are just some tips to help you on the road to success. Good luck!

 

Have some pointers that aren’t included here?  Please share them in the comments section.

 

 

 

Employee Employee ‎12-14-2011 09:22 AM

Monya Emery.pngGuest post from Monya Emery, manager of supplier diversity for Verizon.

 

 

Often times small business owners want to know how they can do business with Verizon. 

 

The answer is simple: register your business at our website: www.verizon.com/suppliers

 

At Verizon, our supplier diversity program promotes an inclusive business environment including small businesses, small-disadvantaged businesses, minority, women, veteran and service-disabled veteran owned-businesses. There is an entire team committed to utilizing diverse suppliers throughout the sourcing and supply chain process.  We leverage our diverse suppliers to ensure our customer base mirrors our supply base.  This means when one of Verizon’s business groups need the services of outside experts and/or suppliers, small businesses have the same opportunities as larger businesses to submit a proposal.

 

Since 1984, the Verizon Supplier Diversity program was charged with the mission to drive the growth of working with diverse businesses and identify certified diverse suppliers, while building sustainable value-added business partnerships.

 

We have implemented several key initiatives to propel our mission, such as encouraging multi-tier sourcing, mentoring small businesses and diverse suppliers, and helping to connect small and diverse suppliers with large and majority-owned suppliers.

 

Our supplier selection criteria include the following:

 

  • Financial Stability 
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Established Business
  • Federal Taxpayer ID
  • Proven Track Record and References
  • Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and E-commerce
  • Insurance & Bonding Requirements
  • Background Checks
  • Quality Processes
  • Third-party diverse certification

  

Verizon takes pride in being recognized as a leader in diversity of employees in our workforce and for working with small businesses and diverse suppliers.  Recently, we received two prestigious awards from the Dallas/Fort Worth Minority Supplier Development Council (D/FW MSDC), an affiliate to the National Minority Supplier Development Council

 

Verizon’s Donna W. Erhardt, director of sourcing and supplier diversity received the 2011 Executive Advocate of the Year Award for her outstanding support of diverse suppliers. The criteria for the award was as follows:  leadership and vision in Supplier Diversity, outstanding performance in minority business development, support and participation with the D/FW MSDC and involvement with the diverse business community.

 

Donna and award.jpgDonna has actively served on the D/FW MSDC's Board of Directors and Executive Boards for the past three years.  She holds the position of Secretary on both Boards.  In addition, she makes a point to regularly coach and mentor small and diverse suppliers.  

 

Verizon also received the 2011 Mega Deal award in recognition of our work with Software House International (SHI), a global provider of information technology products and services.   They provide software and hardware procurement, deployment planning, pc refresh, and IT asset management. SHI has recently begun working with Verizon on its Green Initiatives, which include: recycling, asset recovery and asset disposal. 

 

Mega Deals are defined as deals totaling over $25 million and take place between a corporation and a DF/W MSDC diverse owned business enterprise. The Mega Deal award helps diverse businesses to showcase their performance and further grow their businesses.

 

Now that you are familiar with our interest and leadership in utilizing small and diverse businesses, I encourage small and diverse suppliers to register at our website:  http://www.verizon.com/suppliers.

 

 

[Editor's note: Top photo of Monya Emery guest blogger: center photo of Donna Erhardt (right) with the 2011 Executive Adovate of the Year Award and Royalyn Reid, co-founder & CEO of Consumer & Market Insights of Dallas, TX; below, photo of all the individuals honored by the D/FW MSDC.]

 

NMSDC Dallas_Ft Worth council photo 2011.jpg 

 

 

About Verizon Business Markets
Get news from Verizon about Business Markets services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon Business Markets group and other experts to help keep your business growing.

       




Contact the editor: tumara.r.jordan@verizon.com

About the Authors

Tumara Jordan

Senior Manager: Verizon Business Markets

Photo of Tumara Jordan

Tumara is a contributor to the Business Markets Marketing team and she currently manages Social Media marketing campaigns.


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