You’re Only as Good as Your Vendor

This article “You Are Only as Good as Your Vendor” appeared this weekend in Sarah E. Needleman’s “The Accidental Entrepreneur” column in the WSJ.  It’s a great read, not only for entrepreneurs, but for absolutely anyone in business.


The notion of “No Man is an Island,” is true for every business person–if you’re a solo entrepreneur or a staffer in a multi-national corporation. Ms. Needleman talks about small businesses being at the whim of their vendors, yet having some leverage.  Yet his is true for all of us in business.

No matter what we do, as business people we rely on others internally and mostly externally to provide inputs, give expert advice, sell our products, and generally do the things that either we can’t do or can’t do as well as someone else can do them.

Sometimes we call these people vendors or contractors.  When we know that we couldn’t do it without them, we call these people partners.

What’s the difference in nomenclature? R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Just like employees, the primary reason that people quit jobs or quit clients is that they don’t feel appreciated.  I’ve had colleagues tell me that they need to keep pushing vendors to the max.  They feel it should be enough just to get paid.  Constantly pushing shows “who’s the boss.”

But I’ve found that when times get tough, the vendors that I’ve treated as partners will go the extra mile and save my project or my delivery or my bacon.  These become my top-notch vendor/partners that I trust and want to continue doing business with over the long term.

While we all have to vet the people we work with, and each of us has to prove our worth in mutual relationships, we need to appreciate the part our vendors play in making each of us and our businesses look good. When a vendor delivers on expectations and the contract, maybe we should give them something that goes beyond our payment: respect for a job well done.




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