When I first started my consulting business, I remember being really impressed by the big company names on some of my colleagues’ customer lists. “How did you do that?” I asked. “How did you get a contract with P&G or Harley Davidson?” As it turned out, it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it was.
In fact, it’s a lot easier than you think, especially if you have yourself a copy of Cynthia Kay’s book, Small Business for Big Thinkers: Unconventional Strategies to Connect With and Win Big Business. I’ve had a review copy sitting here on my desk for a little while. It’s a small paperback (at least my review copy was) and it looked like reading I could tackle in a weekend.
Small Business for Big Thinkers is a Small Business’s Short Cut to Success
Cynthia Kay (@ThinkCK) has small business in her genes. She comes from a family of Greek entrepreneurs and grew up surrounded by small businesses even before she started her own. She’s a passionate spokesperson for small business and spends a lot of her time coaching other small businesses.
In this book, Cynthia shares the strategies that worked for her in getting Fortune Global 100 companies as clients.
Small Business for Big Thinkers is just over 200 pages of insights from Cynthia’s small business experience working with big businesses. Early in the book she says:
“Big businesses were my first customers, so I never realized until recently that many small businesses don’t know how to work with them. In fact, many small businesses never even try to connect with and win big business.”
This spoke directly to me, and maybe it will speak to you too. I had never considered taking on a big business as a client. If that sounds like you, than this first chapter is meaty reading because you’ll see that big business is ready, willing and able to do business with you – if you’d only know how to do it.
If You’re Ready to Jump Into the World of Big business, Here is What You’ll Have to Know
Working with big business isn’t something that you just do, it’s a decision, and it’s not for every small business. Kay goes into great detail on what you will have to have in place before you take on a much bigger client.
Kay starts this book with an interesting perspective, and one I think few small business owners consider when they are starting their business – think and plan for the business you’re intending on running.
This is an important distinction and Kay spends eleven chapters getting you ready to pitch big clients. She gets her experience from both her business, her families businesses and interviews she’s done with other small business owners. Her philosophy is before you pitch the big guys, have the following in place:
- An exit strategy.
- A partnering strategy.
- Hire the right people.
- Create a work space.
- Recognize when to keep customers and when to leave them.
- Know when and how to let an employee go.
- Make the choice to get big or stay small.
Then she goes into the phase of the book about approaching big businesses:
- Understanding the big business buyers’ perspective.
- Writing an RFP (Request for Proposal).
- Positioning yourself.
- How to get face-time and when to show up.
- Finding a champion.
- Operating like a big business.
Is This Book Worth Reading?
Before I read this book, I thought that I didn’t have Fortune 500 clients because – I didn’t have Fortune 500 clients. I have to admit that I hadn’t spent a lot of time considering whether I wanted large customers or not.
Then I read Small Business for Big Thinkers and after going through the book, especially that last section, I’m very clear that I do not want to work with big businesses as clients. Their way of working just doesn’t work for me. And the good news for me is that I’m not really going to be spending a lot of time thinking about it any more.
What about you? How much have you thought about having big brands or Fortune 500 clients on your customer list? If you’re like me and hadn’t thought about it, you’ll want to read this book because you’ll at least know what’s involved and can make the decision for yourself.
Now, let’s say you do want to work with big businesses as customers and clients. If that sounds like you, then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of this book. You’ll really get some good insights about what your business has to look like and how to set yourself up as an ideal small business supplier to a large company.
Small Business for Big Thinkers is definitely a unique book. I’m especially glad Kay put it out there because it’s clear that big companies want to partner with small businesses, but if you want to play with the big boys, you’re going to have to be ready.
Small Business for Big Thinkers is a great first step to getting there.