Do you know who you’re dealing with?
For a start up business a new connection and an alluring venture can be a really exciting time. It can take your company in new directions and who knows - it could be that decision which propels you from the basement to the boardroom.
It’s also, however, a time to be extra careful. A wrong step could have repercussions that can leave you struggling. You need to know who you are dealing with before you get too involved. As Howard Graham, CEO of The Made Simple Group says, “When starting out with a new venture it’s important that you select suppliers and sometimes even customers carefully. Whilst the lure of big orders is always attractive, there’s nothing glamorous about not getting paid and whilst this is no picnic for larger companies, it’s worse for start-ups. Therefore it’s imperative that you carry out thorough research.”
At the same time, you have to be aware that your new potential partner will be checking you out too. So how can you make sure that you’re making the right decision and simultaneously ensure that you’re showing your best side to potential partners?
The Credit Check
The bottom line is that we are in business to make money. Your business is something you started and have nurtured to make it grow and succeed; now what it needs are good relationships with reliable companies. A company credit report can give you a valuable insight as to what the company is really like.
Detailed information like the company’s credit rating and credit limit together with a list of other companies they have worked with can be vital to your assessment process.
The Inside Word
A great way to really know what’s going on is to get an insider’s opinion. By checking if you have a shared LinkedIn connection – or simply asking people you do business with - you may be able to get the real inside story. Perhaps one of your connections has worked with this company before and they can give you the lowdown.
Having a good knowledge of your potential partners is a great way to evaluate them early on. At the same time, you have to be aware that your new potential partner could be checking you out too. So as well as making sure you’re well informed you need to ensure that your online presence is as good as it can be.
Stay up to date
Your website and your social media profiles are your virtual shop window, it’s how your customers will keep up with you. Every company today has a whole host of social media accounts, it takes two minutes to open a Facebook page and then even less to get your Twitter account going. Then for the first week you're unstoppable, new posts everyday and more followers every week. It’s easy to let it slip, if customers find your website is out of date or that you haven’t posted anything new for months it will tarnish your image.
The same goes for your blog, news section, and any other dated information on your website. We’re talking Christmas specials still up in March, or a “last updated” mark of 6 months ago. You need to make sure you monitor how your information is presented to new customers; regular posts, routine communications and an up-to-date website help your customers see you as a constant that they can rely upon when they need to.
What your customers say
It’s not just what you say about your brand that you have to consider; your online presence is also made up of what everyone else says about you. Letting existing customers post honestly about you will improve your image as a company. Of course you’ll get the occasional negative comment but by addressing these in an open and honest manner you will be seen as a professional company that has its customers’ best interests at heart. Why not include customer feedback directly onto your website?
So, it’s worth taking the time to check how potential partners conduct themselves online – associating with the right (or wrong!) partners could have a lasting effect on the reputation of you and your business. But it’s not all about them: make sure you ask yourself the very same questions you’d ask a new partner to check you’re on the right track.
The Made Simple Group are there for every step of your business’s lifetime. From the start-up onwards, they provide a range of services that make business simple for you.