With job security and employment continuity coming increasingly under threat as a result of forces such as off-shoring, protectionism and technological automation, it’s no surprise to see a rise in career self-determinism and entrepreneurship. More and more of us are looking to take control of this uncertain employment landscape by going it alone. It’s not just millennials who are starting their own ventures, but babyboomers too, as research shows that over 43% of entrepreneurs are over 50. It’s no surprise really, as older professionals have accumulated more management experience, more powerful contacts and may have more ready access to funding.
No matter what age you are when you start your business, it’s most likely you’ll need to find a cost effective supplier of raw materials or producers or components or full products. In fact, the viability, profitability and ultimate success of your business will depend on you being able to establish a reliable and cost effective supply chain.
A good starting point for finding a supplier is one of the online market-places. Some of the more well-known and reputable product sourcing sites are: Alibaba.com, Aliexpress.com, Target.com. JD.com and Doba.com. You can get access to suppliers and producers all over the world in hot spots like China and Korea. You can also use sites like Amazon and Ebay for this too, but most of the time you are connecting with a retailer/wholesaler and not the producer and you will get a smaller margin. One advantage to this kind of approach however is that the wholesaler will most likely be based in your own country, meaning there will be less supply chain management overhead for you to deal with.
But, it takes more than simply going on these sites and searching for your producers or suppliers. You’ll need to so some serious market research and supplier background research in order that you can secure not only the most cost effective producer/supplier, but also the most reliable. Jumping into the deep end could result in you being burned and professional supply chain management is therefore vital.
You can do this manually, but a professional supply chain management software solution is highly recommended. For example, while off-shore destinations can be great source for goods and materials, they are potentially more hazardous as you are less familiar with local risks. That’s where a best of breed supply chain management tool can help as they use big data analysis to identify events and trends that represent a warning sign for supply chain related risks. By searching for critical keywords or phrases that relate to supplier names and particular sourcing markets a best of breed supply chain management system can be your eyes and ears. It can monitor all publicly available news outlets and following a big data analysis can provide you with a risk profile for producers, suppliers and markets in question.
But, a supply chain management tool with big data crunching capability can help you reduce costs too. It does this by tracking market and forecasts prices which allows these systems to alert you of real-time opportunities to negotiate or renegotiate. Such tools can also help you spot inter-linkages: Let’s say that your textile product relies on the price of a raw material like silk. Therefore, by tracking the price of silk, a supply chain management system can predict the likely future price movement of your textile product.
It’s clear that while sites like Alibaba.com can open the door to a world of suppliers and producers, you’ll need a best of breed supply chain management software tool to enable you to actually develop a cost effective, profitable and reliable supply chain.
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