Editor’s note: Michelle Stockman works with Little Rock-based Arkansas Capital Corp. to promote entrepreneurship development around the state. Stockman earned a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University-Chicago in communications and fine arts, and earned a master’s in entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University. Her thoughts on business success appear each Monday on The City Wire.
Small business owners face many mountains to climb when starting and running their own businesses. From competing with well established businesses, creating a new market place or trying to do business with a large corporation, entrepreneurs face a vast array of obstacles in their path to success.
Recently a Fort Smith entrepreneur shared a story that small business owners face when doing business with other companies. This business owner was faced with a decision to either be nice or forceful in doing business with a company five times the size of this entrepreneur’s business in regards to the fulfillment of a business-to-business contract. Big corporation wanted to alter the payment terms for the services already delivered by the small company, so the decision was to accept the new terms or fight for the money owed to the company.
In this time of economic difficulty, big corporation was positioning itself to protect their cash flow by decreasing the payment to small company. Meanwhile, the entrepreneur was in need of cash flow to make payroll. The entrepreneur was put in a situation where a decision between being nice (for future business with the larger company) or enforcing the contract that was agreed upon before the work was delivered had to be made.
The entrepreneur decided to enforce the agreed upon contract, which was the right decision despite hurting the big company’s feelings. While small businesses want to keep their clients happy, there are many cases where “nice” or “kind” gets taken for granted in the future by the offending company. A contract is established to ensure both parties fulfill their agreed upon terms.
As a small business owner, do not let yourself be seen as a weak (easily pushed around) company. Stand up for your company regardless of offending your contact with the larger company. Your business needs you to be strong.