As you ponder growth strategies for 2017, one way to help change the revenue growth of your business is to secure large institutional contracts through universities, hospitals, government agencies or large corporate entities. In order to do so, however, it helps if you're ready, willing and able to serve the demands of and requirements for these large institutions while also balancing potential revenue growth with the right expense structure to remain profitable.
Doing business with large institutions can sometimes present an uphill battle that feels insurmountable. I personally experienced this feeling in trying to sell my previous business' services into several institutions, from universities to corporations. In addition to long sales cycles and arduous procurement processes, I also faced questions that truly challenged my current state of operations.
- Is my company's brand reputable enough?
- Do I have sponsorship from a senior executive?
- Do I meet the minimum insurance requirements?
- Can I fill the needs of the institution, and in a timely manner, if they want to purchase additional services?
Local Initiatives Helping Businesses With Revenue Growth Through Anchor Institutions
Fortunately, you no longer have to address these challenges alone. There are several recent initiatives that are helping businesses penetrate into large institutions for revenue growth around the country:
Baltimore Integrated Partnership (BIP): Funded by prominent civic organizations several years ago, BIP is a “a collaborative partnership of anchor institutions, funders, nonprofits and public organizations focused on establishing economic inclusion as the business culture of norm in the Baltimore region."
Part of BIP's current agenda is to connect minority-owned, small and local businesses to institutional procurement opportunities in the region.
Chicago Anchors for a Stronger Economy (CASE): Launched a few years ago, CASE is “a network of prominent Chicagoland anchor institutions committed to collectively impacting neighborhood economic development through local purchasing, hiring, and investment."
Northeastern University's Impact Lending Program: Publically announced in October of 2016 as “the region's first university-supported loan program for women and minority-owned businesses," the program says it will provide critical capital to help businesses grow.
What is also compelling, however, is the program's focus on allowing businesses to compete for larger contracts with the university. Through the program's partnership with nonprofit community development financial institution the Local Initiatives Support Company, businesses will receive advisory services to fulfill these new contractual opportunities. By pairing potential capital with support services that enable businesses to scale, Northeastern University has made a powerful commitment to growing the business ecosystem and helping businesses with revenue growth.
A Case for Place-Based Economic Development as a Means for Revenue Growth
A unifying theme amongst these initiatives is that they represent place-based economic development. As the name implies, place-based economic development builds on a community's assets to build the local economy. Many of these initiatives draw on the principles espoused by, and lessons learned from, the Evergreen Cooperative Initiative. The Evergreen Cooperative Initiative has successfully harnessed the energy of institutions to invest in place-based economies.
I've engaged with some of these initiatives through my work at Next Street, which provides advice and capital solutions to revitalize communities, grow businesses and create jobs. I have seen how these initiatives have helped businesses achieve a next level of business and revenue growth. While time will ultimately test how big the impact of these initiatives will be, if you want to grow through institutions, you may want to explore these initiatives in your own community.
At the very least, consider asking an institution that you want to do business with whether they're involved in any initiatives like the aforementioned. If they tell you no, consider encouraging them to explore these innovative models.