A fellow netlogx team member, Sara Jordan, and I recently attended the 8th Annual Relationships to Partnerships Sessions at Purdue University on November 16, 2012. Purdue presented the conference in partnership with the Supplier Diversity Development Coalition of Greater Lafayette to increase opportunities available to minority and women business enterprises (MWBE’s) to meet buyers and end-users of a wide range of goods, services, and prime contractors.
The topic of the plenary session was “The New Realities Facing Diverse Businesses”. The panel was comprised of leaders in the field of supplier diversity and included keynote speaker, Dr. Melvin Gravely, founder of The Institute for Entrepreneurial Thinking and a nationally known advocate for minority business development.
Attendees received practical information to help drive success in their own businesses. Key takeaways:
- Diversity has been redefined and businesses now have more minority options (blacks, women, disabled, or veterans) from which to choose which increases competition for minority-owned businesses.
- Globalization of the market increases the importance for a company to source globally on some level if it wants to continue to grow and be successful
- 40% of US employees currently work for companies that are based outside of the United States. Latin American countries are eager to obtain US-made products
- Critical when going global is to consider mergers and acquisitions/diversification to gain success outside the US. When merging or acquiring another company, be sure to understand what you are purchasing (i.e., a recognized name, people, relationships, geography or access to supply chains)
- Small businesses should cross-train all employees, but especially a strategic employee whose sudden departure would damage the company’s ability to do business if the employee were to die or choose to leave the company
- Consolidating supply chains leads customers to think bigger is better when it comes to their suppliers. Smaller, minority-owned businesses should develop partnerships with other minority-owned businesses in order to compete in the marketplace
- Partnerships can allow a company additional resources to execute a large contract they would not be able to secure on their own
- Make contacts by getting immersed in the local community and supporting local Boards
- Increasing Latino interest in US products and services make it important to partner with a Latino-owned company
- Customers want to shift their risk to the companies with which they partner; it is critical for smaller companies to be able to take on and manage a customer’s risk
Minority businesses face many challenges these days as market drivers have changed. The information conveyed at this conference reminded everyone that it is indeed a small world after all and businesses must look to not only their local geography but also the world for opportunities to grow and succeed.
QUOTE: “You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.” – Ayn Rand