As National Small Business Week approaches and we prepare to celebrate our country’s innovation, we’re kicking off the festivities with a series of posts on how your business can take advantage of the resources available through supplier programs, especially supplier diversity programs.

So let’s get started…

What is a supplier program?

Supplier procurement programs are typically hosted by large companies looking to recruit and source products or services from smaller businesses. Often these programs are deployed to help organizations grow and strengthen local communities by developing diverse relationships with many different groups. Each company has their own criteria but many recognize certifications by the SBA and NMSDG (to name a few within: minority, women, disadvantaged and small business enterprises.)

What can a supplier program do for my business?

Supplier programs can be a great avenue for a small business to get their foot in the door with large companies and provide long term growth opportunities:

  • Expand your company/product reach into new markets
  • Provide the consistency of large, long-term contracts with stable companies
  • Associate your company’s brand with well-recognized and established brands

The companies running these programs often dedicate a generous budget to ensure their success.  For example, WellsFargo has spent more than $8 billion on MWDSBE suppliers in the last 10 years and members of Supplier Connection, IBM’s supplier program, collectively purchase more than $150 billion in goods and services annually through their program . In addition, companies often host great networking events for their suppliers as part of their program!

How should I prepare?

While supplier program applications vary widely, most request the same general information. To help you prepare for your applications, we went through over 30 applications to gather the most common questions asked. Nearly all of them requested:

  • Corporate tax ID number
  • A D&B D-U-N-S® Number
  • Completed W-9
  • Website URL (touch-up your site!)
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
  • Corporate Annual Revenue
  • For diversity programs: proof that business qualifies as minority-owned (MBE certification, WBE certification, SBE certification, DBE certification)

Popular Supplier Diversity Programs

Just some of the many companies with supplier diversity programs include:

Did we miss a supplier program?  Let us know in the comments or email us at:

[CC photo by Andy Beatty]