While often working in the shadows of much larger enterprises, small businesses play a crucial role in the domestic economy. According to the Small Business Office of Advocacy, independently-owned suppliers made up 98 percent of all identified exporters and produced 31 percent of the country's export value in 2008. The emergence of developing markets throughout the world has offered both opportunities as well as challenges in maintaining an efficient global supply chain. By taking some simple steps and investing in newly affordable technologies like advanced data gathering, independent businesses can increase efficiencies, maximize revenues and get the most out of their global supply chain. In a recent article, Small Business Trends highlighted a few key ways smaller businesses can more fully leverage their supply chain partners.
- Diversify - New markets have emerged in recent years that make it all but impossible for suppliers to rely on a particular manufacturing source. Since a wider distribution of sourcing is becoming the norm, small suppliers have to either embrace the new paradigm or merely put up with it. For those independent suppliers willing to conform, they may find that diversified sourcing has its advantages. As Small Business Trends observed, diversification can prove invaluable in the event of supply chain disruptions and also provide suppliers with competitive leverage to ensure the best cost base.
- Build Relationships - Strong relationships rely on trust, and trust is an essential component of free enterprise. By working with the various players throughout the supply chain, small businesses can establish more meaningful collaborations for mutual benefit. Moreover, maintaining a rapport with fellow suppliers enhances communication and helps to mitigate risks, especially when it comes to supply chain disruptions.
- Keep Sources Close -The inevitable movement toward an increasingly globalized market has forever changed how commerce is conducted both domestically and abroad. Advances in data sharing technology and communications tools have helped to close the geography gap, though geopolitical and environmental risks remain. As a result, reducing the distance between the various players remains one of the best ways suppliers can maintain quality control of a product and its components. At the same time, this option is becoming harder to exercise.
- Invest In Technology - International business is complex. Fortunately, intelligent supply chain software offering automated data collection and analysis tools that can share real time information, plus analytical reporting tools that provide future snapshots of a global supply chain's functions, have become invaluable for independent suppliers looking to stand out and succeed.