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Finding Reliable Suppliers for a Small Business

written by: Nick Mann•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 12/7/2010

Learn how to find find reliable suppliers in your industry that will help your small business get off on the right foot. Also learn how to avoid sketchy, dishonest companies as well and how to choose the best small business suppliers.

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    In order to turn an average small business into a thriving money maker, understanding how to find reliable suppliers is vital. However, finding the right manufacturer can be a challenge without the right know how. So, let's discuss some sure fire methods that can help any small business find the right supplier and maximize profits.

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    Trade Shows and Magazines

    Attend Trade Shows One of the best ways to make contacts with small business suppliers is by attending trade shows and searching through trade magazines. Trade shows are beneficial as they allow you to interact one-on-one with potential suppliers and create personal contacts. Trade magazines are great because you can find wholesale deals that are unavailable to the general public. If you plan on placing bulk orders, this has the potential to save you enormous amounts of money. The best way to track down upcoming trade shows is to contact your local Chamber of Commerce and convention centers. To find trade magazines for your industry, visit your local library or look online at Tradepub.

    Image Credit (Wikimedia Commons)

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    Look Locally

    Depending on the industry you are in and your location, there are many instances where you can find reliable suppliers for either a portion or potentially all products right in your local area. This route is ideal for a couple of reasons. The biggest reason being the money saved on shipping expenses and also the ability to personally visit the supplier's distribution center. In addition, this will give you the chance to personally establish a face to face relationship with your supplier. This also helps the vendor view you more as a person and not merely as a dollar sign. Long term, sound business relationships can be developed this way. Check your local phone book or perform an online search for potential suppliers in your area.

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    Look Online

    If you are unable to find reliable suppliers through the previously mentioned methods, looking online is usually your next best option. Start off by simply looking through search engines and typing the name of your industry followed by "supplier" or "manufacturer" in the search box. Be sure to keep a few factors in mind when sifting through potential suppliers and determining their reliability. Never make a purchase from a company until you have investigated these factors:

    • Make sure the business has a legitimate website and try to read some unbiased reviews of the company.
    • Verify that the supplier has a working phone number and not an automated answering machine. Any legitimate company will have a hassle free means of getting in touch with them.
    • Make sure they have a legitimate business address and not a post office box.
    • Check the Better Business Bureau in the company's area and inquire about any complaints.
    • Conduct an online search of the supplier's name followed by "scam" if you are skeptical.
    • Visiting Rip Off Report can help you as well.
    • Make sure when purchasing online the business has a secure server. You can tell if the checkout area is secure if HTTPS appears in the URL.

    In order for your company to succeed, you need inventory, so do some research on small business suppliers and use the vendor selection process before you make a decision.