Your business will likely require a steady supply of materials to continue operating. Even if you don’t purchase supplies often, you might need a supplier for equipment or machinery. Either way, identifying a reliable supplier of high-quality goods is hugely important to a small business. 

This article will provide you with a few tips on how to find the best suppliers for your small business. We’ll also look at ways to make sure that a particular supplier is right for your company. The complete list of topics we’ll cover includes:

  • Speak with industry contacts
  • Social media
  • How to check if a supplier is right for your business 

Speak with industry contacts

A great way to find the best suppliers for your business is to simply ask others within your industry where they get their supplies from. This method only works if you know someone who operates a company very similar to yours, and you trust the quality of the supplies they buy. 

But if you do have a contact like this, speaking with them about suppliers can save you a lot of time and effort you might have otherwise had to spend investigating different suppliers. This is one of the reasons why networking is so important to small businesses. As well as introducing you to potential ways of making money, a strong business network can introduce you to opportunities that will allow you to save money too. 

Social media

Social media is a great advertising tool for any business, and that includes suppliers. You can find adverts for suppliers on pages dedicated to your industry, so try joining these groups to see what you can find. For instance, if you make jewellery or similar homemade crafts, try searching for groups on Facebook or Pinterest related to your products. 

These adverts may even target you specifically if your social media activity aligns with the characteristics the supplier is looking for in a customer. This is due to the way social media advertising works. It starts when you use social media to look at content related to your interests, and the social media platform you use records this activity. 

When a supplier pays for a social media advert, they can set their ad to only appear to users with specific interests. If you use your social media to look up content related to your business, you’re more likely to see adverts related to the products you sell. So if you want to increase your chances of seeing supplier adverts, use your social media to network with other people within your industry.

How to check if a supplier is right for your business

Compare prices 

Even if you’ve found a supplier with great products and an excellent reputation, you’ll still need to make sure they offer a fair price. If you run a startup and have little business experience, it’s wise to compare the prices of different suppliers to get an idea of the average price for the materials you want.

Even if you already have a supplier, it’s still smart to regularly compare your supplier’s prices to the prices of their competitors. By doing this, you’ll ensure that you’re always paying the minimum you need to for your supplies, which is an excellent way to cut costs in a small business.

Ask for samples

A business’ reputation might rely on their products being well-made. If your suppliers’ goods are of poor quality, then your reputation will suffer when you sell them or products made from them. As such, it’s a good idea to ask for a sample before you make a large purchase. 

This sample is usually a single unit of the goods you want, which (once acquired) you can use to test their quality. Some suppliers offer free samples upon request but prepare to pay for the sample you want. 

If your supplier is unwilling to provide samples, even if you’re willing to pay for them, you might want to consider using the supplier on a trial basis anyway. If you do this, you need to keep a couple of things in mind.

First, don’t fill your entire product inventory with a supplier’s goods if you’re only testing them out. Try to only buy a portion of the goods you need from them — for instance, you might only buy a week’s worth of materials instead of a month’s worth. This means you won’t be stuck with a ton of low-quality products if the supplier isn’t as good as you thought.

Second, only use a supplier for a trial basis if everything else about them seems trustworthy and reliable. If you can’t get a sample of their goods to test quality, but their prices and reputation are both great, you’re probably safe to use them on a trial basis. If you can’t get samples and can’t find out much else about the supplier, testing them out might cause more problems than it solves.

Research their reputation

A supplier is a business just like yours, so they’re also aware of the enormous influence customers can have on a company. As such, suppliers might use a variety of customer feedback techniques to ensure that they can hear their customers’ complaints and compliments regarding the service the supplier provides.

You can also take advantage of these feedback techniques. By reading reviews and testimonials about a potential supplier, you’ll learn more about the quality of their customer service and the goods they sell.

Managing expenses with Countingup

Buying supplies is likely to be an expense you pay for frequently while running your business. To keep on top of your business finances it’s important to keep track of how much you’re paying your suppliers and how often you pay. You can simplify things by using the Countingup app.

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. Specifically, it features automatic expense categorisation. This means the Countingup app automatically records any transactions you make, then puts them into an HMRC-approved category. With all your expenses sorted into categories, tracking how much money you’re paying to suppliers is much easier.

Find out about your three-month free trial here.