I have a good pal who faced a crisis in 2009 when the Not-So-Great Recession was really starting to get into full swing and we were all realizing how serious it really was.

For many years, my buddy had ridden the Southern California real estate gravy train. The market in L.A. seemed to go nowhere but up, up, up, and getting clients was a breeze. His income was in the mid-six figures for many years in a row, and he thought he was a realty whiz kid.

And then.

The double-whammy of the recession and the drop-off in the L.A. real estate market brought him back to reality. Suddenly, deals were impossible to come by and his income took a devastating hit.

It was against this backdrop that he learned the most important business secret of his life, which he shared with me, and which I would like to share with you today.

Not knowing what to do, he set up a meeting with a wizened old real estate guru that he knew, looking for answers. My friend explained the problem, and this is what the master told him:

“Paul, markets go up and markets go down. Obviously, we are in a down market and I don’t see that changing for a while. So, if the market isn’t going to change, you have to. Here is what I suggest: Put your time, energy, effort, money, marketing, and resources into doing bigger deals. It takes just about the same amount of effort to do a deal for a commercial property at $2.5 million as it does to do one for a house for $250,000, but you will get paid ten-times as much. If you are only going to do a few deals a year now because of the market, make sure they are big deals.”

And so that is what Paul did. Though he only did one deal the next year, it was for a 10-unit apartment building and his commission was enough to keep the dream alive. And now, here, a few years later with the real estate market on the upswing once again, my friend is sitting pretty in his “new” occupation. “It was a tough lesson,” he told me, “but an incredibly valuable one. I am a better person, and business person, because of it. And I am making more money and having more fun than ever.”

So, how does this relate to you?

The answer is that you too should consider looking for bigger clients; ones with bigger budgets that have bigger needs. And that in turn means finding corporate and government contracts and partners.

“And just how do I do that, Steve?” you ask.

The answer might be to become a certified supplier for these entities. Example: The federal government has billions of dollars worth of contracts that, by law, it needs to award to small businesses every year. Similarly, some corporations have small business and diversity goals that they need to meet every year. As a result, small business supplier diversity programs can be found in 93% of all Fortune 100 businesses. Substantial, valuable contracts are being awarded by corporations and government entities to small businesses on an ongoing basis.

Why haven’t they awarded one to you?

They could. What you need to do, if you want to position yourself for these contracts, is consider concentrating on finding out about what programs are out there, and then how to get certified, and then how to apply for and try to get some of these contracts.

And the best place to begin is right here. My friends at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. have compiled a list of the over 350 supplier programs from Fortune 500 companies.

So, what are you waiting for? Get going. You really do have bigger fish to fry.

Photo Credit: thinkpanama, Flickr