In the wide world of business much is said and done about the way that small business can tap into government contracts. But very little is discussed about how small businesses can win supply contracts to huge businesses. After all, big businesses need suppliers too. One report notes that Fortune 500 companies spend billions each year, acquiring everything from catered lunches, to graphic design, to furniture and software among others. But it turns out that not many small companies, those with fewer than 500 employees, tap into the chain of supplying goods to mega firms. There are about six million businesses in the U.S. but only about 10,500 of those supplied goods to large companies in 2008. One cited reason is that the application process is arduous and it is often difficult for a small business to even connect with the right people in those large corporations.
But now, set to launch early next year, a new portal called Supplier Connection aims to throw open the doors to small businesses seeking to supply goods and services to the likes of IBM, UPS, Pfizer, Bank of America. A Bank of America vice president said that company alone will spend $10 billion with small, medium and diverse firms within the next five years. A vendor will be able to apply just once through Supplier Connection for eligibility to bid on contracts from all participating large companies including Bank of America. Such access could be an enormous growth opportunity for small businesses that tap into the connection. For now there are numerous anecdotes of small design firms or sign-making companies that landed one giant client then landed others. And this could ultimately lead a small company to become the bigger company in which case it would then start its own supply chain. At least in theory.
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