As a small business one of the biggest challenges we can face is winning big contract from big clients. If we do win these, they can quite literally change our lives. Of course when it comes to winning these big contracts, we are not alone, competition is stiff and that means the company awarding the contract will generally have many possible contenders to choose from.
One thing larger companies are always concerned with when dealing with small businesses is risk. Will the small business be able to deliver on their promise? Will they be up to the task? Will they be reliable? What will happen if a key member of the business gets sick?
This means we have to do what we can to allay these concerns and prove that we are more than up for the task at hand. Here are the fundamentals that have helped me to attract some of the largest corporations in Australia and globally to become clients of mine:
1. I have always invested heavily in my personal brand. This meant with my stationery, my website, my promotional material - everything. My brand could easily stand up to any corporation in my opinion.
2. With every contact I let my professionalism talk for me. Everything I did was done at a high level corporate standard. I worked very hard to develop a reputation for being a complete professional. As my reputation grew, so did the size of my clients.
3. I went to great lengths to educate my prospective clients to show them that I was constantly growing and developing my skills, and the skills of my team, to reinforce the fact that we were at the cutting edge of our industry.
4. Whenever I worked with a corporate brand I would promote this on my website and in my social media. Corporates like to see that you work with other corporates - it makes them feel safer.
5. I learned to have more corporate discussions. For a long time I felt out of my depth in meetings, mainly because of the jargon and the way of thinking. I learned the jargon and I learned how to think like a company. The latter really means thinking long term, having very open conversations about money, learning to write and provide key information for others to report on and so on.
6. I've always been prepared to jump on a plane and go to them. I have done many spur of the moment trips around the world, at my expense, to show how committed I am to a potential project.
7. I always invest in the latest technology. In meetings I don't want to be pulling out old and out dated equipment, or not be across the latest communication platforms - so I'm always on the lookout for 'new tech' to make sure I am 100% current.
8. I learned to get very comfortable talking about money and budgets. Sometimes small business owners are not as comfortable having money talks - and this can come across as being less sophisticated and perhaps less able to manage budgets.
These strategies have been very effective for me. Getting these bigger clients changed my business forever and the long term benefits of having larger corporate clients is hard to fully appreciate, but it has been big for me financially and personally.
Remember, whenever a large company is considering getting you to do work for them, they are constantly doing a risk analysis. Your job is to reassure them that working with you is not only a safe choice, but also a wise choice.