Lisa Robbin Young

How to find suppliers for your startup

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It can be hard to find suppliers when starting a new business. Often times, particularly for product-based businesses, you've got to contend with minimum orders, set-up fees, and prototyping costs. That can be a big hurdle. The suppliers you use contribute directly to how well your business grows. Here are a few places to look:

Attend Trade Shows

Trade shows are one of the best ways to find what you need. There are usually products on display, so you can get up close with the samples and see if they fit what you need. Check the industry perodicals in your niche to find out when there are exhibitions. You should also check for attendance by industry leaders such as LOC Scientific for specialist products, such as lab design. You can often get a list of attendees far in advance when you book. If the people you think you might want to work with aren't there, it's probably not worth attending.

Check Local Directories

If you're a local business, you may rely on local support. And it helps to give something back by supporting other local businesses. Business-specific trade directories are a great way to find local suppliers. And the best thing about these is that they are very easy to find compared to using a search engine. A directory is often niche-specific, so you typically don't get convoluted results. Additionally, there is no ranking system or algorithm, so all are listed regardless.

Find Suppliers with Google

Of course, Google and other search engines can be a great way to find suppliers. And they are also free, unlike some directory services. Any business worth using will have an online presence with at least a website. However, because of the way search engine algorithms work, it can be hard to find what you need. So, you must use keywords correctly when looking for a local supplier. And don't forget to read reviews and testimonials carefully before using a company.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth is a very powerful thing in business. Most people will trust what others say about a service. So, much so that a survey of 40,000 consumers found that 80% use a business based on what others say. And today, social media is also a powerful tool for this. Most businesses and suppliers will have a social media account. So look at what others are saying. You can even use specific hashtags such as #LocalSupplier to find a supplier you need.

Check Industry Reports

The web is full of data. And there are some sites that offer a quick snapshot of a specific business. So you can check these when looking for a supplier. Sites such as Clutch also rank local businesses and suppliers according to certain metrics. Or you can use industry-specific ranking sites. For example, Lumanity can help you find solutions for medical and healthcare supplies. These sites often only recommend and support the very best in your chosen industry.

Do your homework!

There are a variety of ways to find the suppliers to get your business growing. Attending trade shows is great for networking; Google can give you quick results, and you can also use industry-specific reports. Above all, however, make sure that the people you're doing business with are a good fit for the mission, values, and purpose of your business. There's nothing worse than enlisting the support of a vendor who turns out to be problematic to your business or the world at large. Do your due diligence and build something you're really proud of!

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