All small business owners dream of it – that first big sale with a huge client. It might be that first million dollar contract or perhaps a contract with an internationally recognized corporation. However, that big client contract comes with big responsibilities. Do you know the right strategies to handle your first big contract?
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Know that You Are a Risk
Big corporations are concerned with quality and value, but they are also concerned about their contractors keeping their promises. Realize that as a small business a lot can go wrong. And if your small business has experienced success, is it likely due to your efforts.
What would happen if anything happened to you? Don’t be a one-person show. Be sure that your big clients know that if you are out of the picture, your small company can still handle their end of the deal.
Big corporations have vast resources. It is likely they can get your type of service or product anywhere else. Why did they choose you? Likely because you brought something new to the table.
Never lose sight of innovation in all of your work. Even if you land the big contract, continually work to improve your product or service through innovation.
Are your business contact hours Mon-Fri from 8am to 5pm? Not anymore if you land the big client! Be prepared to be more accessible to your giant fish. You may get a call one day where they need a fast turnaround. If you can’t deliver, expect to say sayonara.
Mind What is Said On Your Social Media Accounts
If you have taken our advice on previous postings on this website, you will likely have multiple social media accounts. With a big client on the books, you will especially need to mind what is said on your own updates, as well as the feedback you get.
For instance, your big client may have a privacy clause where you are not allowed to reveal details about the contract, including the name of the client. Don’t go spilling news that could jeopardize that relationship. And if you allow comments or other feedback on social media or blogs, be sure to review them carefully. You don’t want negative exposure about your big client on your public accounts.
If you land that big contract you will need to be prepared before the signatures, not after. Be sure you are prepared for the following:
- Financial preparation – Do you have the financial resources to increase production? Be sure you have proper loans, lines of credit, or additional investors lined up if you land a big client.
- Staffing preparation – Will your staff be able to keep up with the extra workload of meeting the production required? Will you need to hire additional staff? Have a plan in place and ready to go the next day.
- Preparation of backup resources – What if something goes wrong? Will you be able to manage a deadline if your equipment breaks down? Always have a backup plan in case of disaster or emergency.
- Prepare your patience – Your big client will likely impose big demands. Be prepared to have the patience to deal with higher expectations.
Actively Grow the Relationship
Don’t just meet the needs of your big client. Always do your best to exceed. And rather than simply following the contract and fulfilling your duties, be active in nurturing the relationship with your big client. Don’t be afraid of asking how you are doing. Ask what your client would like to see differently, or even if there is some other need that you can meet.
Keep Your Big Clients in the Minority
And most importantly, never depend on a big client for your stability. If ever you lose that contract, you could lose your livelihood and even your business. A good rule of thumb is to never let your big client(s) be more than 25 percent of your total revenue.
The big client is definitely a thing to celebrate. But just remember that taking on a big client requires planning and preparation. Don’t get caught unprepared.