Securing a contract to supply goods or services to a big corporation could be godsend for a small business at a time when consumer confidence (and spending) has plummeted. Small business owners, especially minorities and women, should be aware that several big businesses have programs in place to actively reach out to and cultivate their network of small suppliers.

Not only do many of these corporations provide the potential for lucrative contracts, but some of them also offer mentoring programs. At IBM, for example, the corporation individually assigns executives to offer guidance to promising small suppliers for up to a year and a half.

To be considered by a corporation that seeks out minority suppliers, you must first certify your business as a minority business enterprise (MBE) or women business enterprise (WBE). The requirements for certification generally include:

  • You must be from a specified ethnicity or a woman.
  • You should have ownership of at least 51 percent of your business.
  • You should have have solid business management practices in place and financial viability.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen.

Be sure to check out the the Billion Dollar Round Table. Each member corporation spends at least $1 billion annually with minority- or women-owned suppliers.

Any potential small business supplier to big businesses- whether minority owned or not- should also take a look at the National Business Matchmaking Online Network. This organization helps bring corporate and government buyers together with small companies through a series of regional events and networking tools.

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