Are small businesses really so far removed from the corporate world or are there ways to prove they can work with big business?
Small and medium businesses all over the world wrestle with the daunting task of getting their products and services in front of the decision-makers in large companies.
Even when they succeed, a series of roadblocks can derail potential opportunities causing them to miss out on transformative contracts but there is help. The Durban Chemicals Cluster (DCC) Accelerator developed what is known as the ‘6Cs Framework, a powerful tool that can help SMEs transform into businesses that corporates are eager to work with.
“Many SMEs miss out on opportunities to become future suppliers to leading customers in their supply chain as they do not comply with the specific requirements of large, industrial corporates. The 6Cs Framework was developed as a roadmap that SMEs can use to bridge the gap that exists between being identified as a high-potential supplier and the actual placement of coveted purchase orders,” says Kyle Ballard, head of the Durban Chemicals Cluster Accelerator.
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How to evaluate the readiness of a small business
Ballard encourages SMEs that want to approach large enterprises to evaluate their readiness by assessing their alignment with customers’ requirements against these six factors:
- Commitment: Commitment is the linchpin of any successful relationship and means going the extra mile to deliver goods or services as stipulated in contractual agreements. Demonstrating proactive dedication to meeting customer requirements is essential to unlock commercial opportunities.
- Capability: SMEs must demonstrate their capacity to fully satisfy customer requirements. Conveying expertise in the processes, equipment, skills and raw materials required for delivering the desired outcomes helps to establish trust with customers.
- Competitiveness: The ability to meet industry benchmarks related to price, quality, reliability, flexibility, logistics and innovation strengthens the SME’s position. Understanding your niche positioning and unique value proposition gives your business a competitive edge.
- Compliance: The foundation of trust and reliability with your customers rests upon consistent adherence to financial, legal, labour, health and safety, sustainability and product specification standards. Exhibiting thorough management of compliance promotes an SME’s credibility.
- Capacity: The capability to fulfil contractual obligations with customers concerning volume is another critical factor. Illustrating existing manufacturing capacities and delineating growth strategies attests to dependability.
- Cash: Effective management of financial resources is key. The proven ability to either maintain sufficient cash reserves for raw materials and working capital or leverage flexible financing to strengthen your competitive advantage instils confidence and potential for growth.
“These 6Cs offer a blueprint for SMEs to position themselves as reliable, valuable and growth-oriented partners. SMEs in the chemicals sector have the enviable opportunity to learn how to integrate the 6Cs into their businesses, knowledge that will be shared by a team of experts through the DCC’s Business Accelerator.”
Localisation and transformation
Held annually since 2018, the DCC Accelerator is a transformative initiative to drive localisation and enable the transformation of black industrialists. It has a strong track record of facilitating market access, standards upgrading and capital investment interventions for selected SMEs.
“The Accelerator offers SMEs much, but most importantly, it presents a unique opportunity for these businesses to gain high-level access to decision-makers,” says Ballard. In addition to providing a conduit to the key funder, eThekwini Municipality, participating SMEs will have the invaluable opportunity to unlock mutually beneficial commercial opportunities with leading companies including FFS Refiners, H&R Africa, NCS South Africa, Sherwin-Williams.
Ballard encourages all SMEs in the chemicals sector, from engineering services and solutions, alternative oil products, fabrication and maintenance services to industry-related training, emissions testing, health and safety and more to apply to the 2023 Durban Chemicals Cluster Accelerator.