Every small business owner wears many hats. But not all of those hats fit very well. You may be an excellent number-cruncher, able to amortize out the depreciation and calculate the ROI on an expensive piece of equipment at the drop of a hat. But maybe you’re not so sharp when it comes to marketing or conducting market research. Even if you’re a latter-day Leonardo da Vinci, there will be gaps in your skills that can and will cause your business to develop more slowly than it should or could in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
Most small businesses are also on a tight budget with little room for error or hired expertise. The solution lies in networking and seeking out enlightened relationships with suppliers and other people with skills you need.
What do I mean by “enlightened relationships?” When it comes to suppliers, it’s important to locate a strategic partner that allows you to leverage their company’s expertise, while keeping you in front of your customer. In many instances this means they can handle the trickier aspects of a project or even broaden your product line by making a product for you that you don’t make yourself. It also means they can be trusted to not pursue your customers directly!
Building these kinds of partnerships can lead to many new revenue sources and help you achieve greater sales. But suppliers are not the only source of profitable partnerships. Through effective networking, potentially profitable relationships can be developed with peer businesses, clients, employees, and even prospective customers.
You can and should take every advantage of networking opportunities, including professional associations, industry organizations, and chambers of commerce. Not surprisingly, the members of our network are constantly exploring and discovering new ways to leverage their relationships with each other to tackle bigger projects, cover a wider range of market segments, and solve mutual problems.
What’s Your Advantage?
Signs Now is all about harnessing the power of partnerships to get things done in a better, more efficient and profitable way. We work hard to develop positive partnerships with our franchise members and our key suppliers.
Developed by our leadership team in 2010, the Advantage Program is designed to smooth the path for independent sign company owners who want to become a part of the Signs Now network and gain the tools they need to accomplish their professional goals. A key directive of this program is to help companies retain complete control of their operation, while taking full advantage of all of the benefits of partnering with an organization at an affordable price. This combination helps them adjust to the ongoing structural changes inherent to today’s signage marketplace, while also positioning their companies for greater immediate and long-term success.
For example, Tom Beaver, Olivia Warner, and Bill Collins, partners in Indiana Stamp, a manufacturer of rubber stamp and engraving products with more than $3 million in annual sales, decided they needed to expand their product offerings. After exploring several options, they decided to add a sign center to their Ft. Wayne-based company and signed an Advantage Program agreement. As part of the transition, the company is developing a brand new sign center to complement the rest of their business.
They are still 100 percent independently owned and operated; they just expanded their network. Another result of this partnership is that not only will Indiana Stamp be able to take advantage of the Signs Now support programs, but they have also become a preferred vendor of various rubber stamp and engraving products to all of our other franchise members.
Whether you choose to join a network or follow a different path, the bottom line is the same: Solid partnerships with the right people will greatly increase your chances for success in our business. The next time you need to put on an uncomfortable hat in your business, take a few minutes to ponder whether there might be a better way for you to accomplish your long-range goals.