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The 5 things Wal Mart taught me on how to do business with large companies

This morning I attended a presentation by Mr. Peter Sharp, Snr. Vice President of Wal Mart in Asia and one of the things I picked up from him is this list on how to do with a large company:

  1. Don’t become over dependent
    Never rely on 1 customer for more than 40% of your total revenue. (I also heard in other presentations a number of 10% – so basically each company should have at least 10 customers).
    The risk of becoming over dependent is that anything could happen to that one customer and you lose a significant source of income! Not a risk that savvy business people would like to run.
  2. Profile your customers
    Now that you are going to do business with this large customer – where might this path lead? What could happen in the future, what are the growth plans – both for you and your customer-  and how do you fit in there as the supplier.
  3. Keep an open book mindset.
     You don’t just get trust handed to you on a silver platter – you have to earn it. And earning trust takes time. But this goes for both sides; win-win situations go both ways. You will need to become a trusted partner for the other organization so you can share future plans etc.
  4. Integrity
    Not just for you as the owner of the company or the entrepreneur. But also for all your staff in the company. Integrity has to be top down and bottom up. This is pretty must an extension of point number 3 because without integrity it is really difficult to start trusting you as a person and as a company.
  5. Share best practices to deepen the partnership
    Nobody is an island and you can’t do business on your own. It is always about building partnership with your clients, building bridges and learning from each other. Sharing the things you’ve learned and experienced deepens the partnership and this can only be to the advantage of both parties. 

I think there is something in here for all of us – entrepreneurs, managers, executives and business owners. We never stop learning and we never stop improving the relationships we have with our clients; large or small.

And to be honest – these 5 guidelines are just as valuable for doing business with large companies as they are for dealing with small companies.