How to Find the Right Suppliers for Your Small Business.

Suppliers play a very essential role in almost every business – big, medium, or small.

As a small business, you either create your products from scratch or resell ready products. Either way, you need suppliers for your raw materials or manufacturers or wholesalers to supply you with the goods for reselling. If you are a service-based business, you also need products to provide your services. Above all, there are other general supplies and services your business needs on its own. Things like papers, printing services, internet services, etc.  

Without suppliers, your small business whether retail or online will have a hard time growing, or even staying in business.

Finding the right supplier or suppliers for your business might not be an easy task.

A supplier does not just supply you with what you need for your business but they are more like business partners.

Gregory Go on the Balance says your supplier needs to connect you with the products your business needs and has prices you can afford. Importantly they need to serve your area, be dependable, trustworthy, and easy to work with.

Finding the right suppliers is essential to make sure you are able to deliver your products or services on time. Micah Pratt writes on that working with the right suppliers ensures you deliver your products or services at the right price. Additionally, this ensures your products or services are in compliance with your quality standards.

The first step to finding the right supplier(s) is understanding the products you are selling and the supplies (products or services) your business operations need.

Find the Right Small Business Supplier

In every industry, there are many ways a retailer can get products from a manufacturer. From the book ‘Growing Your Business’ suppliers come in 4 categories:

Manufacturers. Some products can be bought directly from the manufacturing companies through company salespeople or independent representatives. If you want to get the lowest prices to consider getting your products from the sources.  

Distributors. These are commonly known as brokers or wholesalers. They buy the products in high quantities from several manufacturers and sell the goods to retailers. You can get your products from them in small minimum and maximum orders but at a higher price than if you got them from the manufacturers yourself.  

Independent craftspeople. These suppliers are best for businesses that sell unique products such as handmade jewelry, art or gift cards, etc. You are probably going to find them in exhibitions and trade shows.

Import sources. From the word import, these suppliers are from overseas. You can get your products from overseas through a domestic importer or travel abroad to get the goods yourself. You can also get these products from online market places such as Alibaba stock.

Things to consider when choosing a supplier.

There are few vital things to look at when looking for the right supplier.


Price is one obvious trait that most business owners would consider and it’s important. Do your research and compare the prices of different suppliers and see which one works for you.

Put in mind the quality of the products and don’t compromise quality for the price. Calculate the cost of doing business with each supplier and choose the best for your business.


The right supplier for your business is one that is reliable. You need a supplier you can count on to supply your products on time and quality products throughout. Good suppliers will ensure they deliver the right number of items, on time, and in good shape. If anything goes wrong, they take responsibility and make it up to you on time.

Research every supplier in your supplier list and see what other business owners are saying about them. If they come highly recommended, that’s a good thing. If they have reliability concerns, don’t choose them.


You need to work with suppliers who have been in business for a good amount of time and have experience.  A supplier with a solid reputation from other customers is a sign that the supplier is stable.

Location/ region

Where your supplier is located is an important factor to consider. When you order from a distant supplier, your products might delay delivery and this will affect your delivery to your customers.

Dealing with a distant supplier is also expensive. Consider working with suppliers closer to home to save your time and money.

Apart from vital factors to consider when looking for a supplier such as price, reliability, stability, and location, there are other tactics that will help you find the right supplier.

1.Try the manufacturer first.

Before going to a wholesaler, or dealing with other middlemen, try the source first.

If the products you are selling are branded, consider going directly to the manufacturer. This way you will be able to look at the products at source and know whether that’s the product you want to sell or not.

Manufacturers sell in terms of minimum order and depending on the minimum requirements, you might be able to get the products from them. This is way more cost-effective than having to go through several distributors looking for a better deal with quality products, stability, and good reliability.

If your business is too small for their minimum requirements, request them to give you a list of wholesalers who get products from them.

2.Have a productive first contact with the supplier.

As you are looking for a supplier, you will come into contact with several suppliers. If you got a wholesaler list from the manufacturer, contact them one by one.

Get as much information as you can when you contact the supplier for the first time. Find their wholesale unit prices, their minimum number of orders, their location, etc. Tell them exactly what you need and see what they are willing to offer. This is a great time to comparison shop.  

3.Be specific in online searches.

Specificity will make your supplier search easier.  

Don’t be general as you give your information online. Include important niche and product keywords in your search. This way, you will be able to get more specific suppliers.

Find as many potential suppliers as possible to make comparison shopping easier and precise.

4.Check the major Business to Business (B2B) marketplaces.

What a better place to find a supplier or suppliers that in a B2B marketplace? You can buy many products at a low price.

Think of a B2B marketplace such as where you can find manufacturers, distributors, and importers.

Remember to check B2B marketplaces that serve your region too.

5.Join industry groups.

Every industry has groups in so many platforms that you could join. These groups literally have all the answers you are looking for.

You will find other business owners in these groups who can refer you to suppliers they have worked with. Some retailers might withhold this type of information because you are competition but you can always network with other business owners who could help you.

With connections and referrals, your chances of getting the best supplier(s) for your business are very high.  

6.Attend trade shows.

Trade shows are an excellent place to grow your business. You are able to connect with many manufacturers and distributors and you are able to experience the products firsthand.

Having face-to-face conversations with different suppliers helps you ask important questions and get information first hand avoiding misinformation.

Final Thoughts…

As a small business owner, take your time to find the right supplier for your business needs.  

Comparison shop for quality and prices, orders, etc. and pick a good fit for your business. You might not be able to get the right supplier for your small business at first but you can always make the necessary changes along the way.