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How should I deal with big companies?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013 | By Simon Harris

I’m trying to sell my product into a couple of large retailers and am worried about them laughing in my face because I’m a one-man band who has only just started.


Is there any way to ensure that they take me seriously given my lack of business experience?


When I work with start-ups I often find people trying to "crack" the big accounts.


Whether it is a tradesman trying to get into doing large projects with big building companies or food manufacturers trying to get into Coles, my advice is always the same.


These companies are ruthless, all of them. They didn't get that big by being nice and friendly to small businesses.


They are margin-driven and are "flighty", that is, they change allegiances based on margins.


They dictate all the terms of engagement and will drop you like a hot potato when a newer, better, different product comes along.


The dream of a big client quickly turns into a nightmare.


Remember you are in business to make money and have fun doing it – not to chase turnover (revenue) and work like a dog to please the huge client for tiny margins.


So rather than trying to "land the big fish" and look for huge orders and chase revenue, my advice is to look for smaller clients you can work with to maintain margins that are prepared to work with you, sign supplier agreements and work in partnership.


It’s these clients that will bring you satisfaction in your business, not headaches.


When you are big enough to deal with the big guys, with the fears that come with that, then you will probably change your mind and find you prefer to go with the clients that are easier to deal with.


Good luck.