Before you think about things such as marketing or customer feedback, finding the perfect supplier to provide your business with the products or services it needs is crucial. You need to determine everything you need the supplier to fulfil before you even think about approaching companies for their service. This way, you’re more likely to get exactly what you want because you’ll have a better understanding of what your business needs.

Then, depending on what your business is, you’ll be looking at wholesalers and manufacturers. Wholesalers are better if you need a lot of something, whereas manufacturers are often more helpful if you don’t need a bulk order.

You’ll have a vague idea of well-known companies who could become your supplier, and they’re a good place to start. For example: if you need fixed castors you’d go to Tente, for paint you’d go to TA Industrial Paints, and for cement you’re likely to go to Hanson and so on and so forth.

Sticking to the well-known and reputable brands gives you peace of mind, even if it isn’t the cheapest price on the market. You are essentially guaranteed a reliable and high quality product from an experienced supplier, which is often worth more than anything else – especially if you’re setting up a business and want to know you can trust your suppliers.

To get more experience and knowledge on the products you’re after, it’s a good idea to attend as many trade shows as you can to gain an understanding of the different prices, specifications, logistics.

Also, you could use trade events as an opportunity to spread the word about your up and coming business. You may also discover you need more equipment or stock that you had planned in the first place, and that transportation of the goods is also going to need thorough planning, for example.

Another frequently asked question you might be struggling with is whether you should be sourcing your products from here in the UK or overseas. Going overseas can mean the likelihood of manufacturing being cheaper, but it’s more difficult to liaise with companies and you’ll have to sort out shipping, standards and taxes.

If you choose to go down the overseas route there is a much higher risk involved, but there are an abundance of online resources out there to get you started including Alibaba, Tdctrade and Thomasnet.

When you think you’ve found the perfect supplier, you’ll have to put your best negotiating skills to the test and find a price that works for your budget. You want to create a partnership, so try not to be too brutal with your haggling – the aim is to find a price that benefits both parties so that you remain loyal to each other and continue to work successfully together into the future.

Finally, review the performance of your suppliers once business is up and running. Did they send you high quality parts? Did you receive your goods on time? And what do your customers think of the things your supplier sent you?

These are all important questions to ask yourself. If you’re not happy with the answers, think about changing your supplier. After all, we learn by doing – and that’s certainly true for running a business!

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