The Business Sailor & Cadet

Christopher Eaton Tuesday 09, August, 2016

Big business and small business can be like a seasoned sailor and a young cadet.

The sailor has no time for nonsense and demands action in the correct sequence, less the ship go off course or sink in the storm, but actions must be executed while the wheel is held. The cadet clings to handholds, often tumbling on the deck, grasping and securing ropes with unyielding focus and strength, but unsure of the full course.

One can be lost without the other, but as a team they can weather a storm.

It's been a hectic and exhaustive two weeks negotiating with a potential big-business client for a R&D deal. Actually in comparison with my tiny start-up, they are nothing short of a titan. The endeavor has been an incredible learning experience, to say the least.

I've learned big businesses have their own ways of doing things, and aren't willing to just discard their policies or procedures to accommodate your small business "cowboy" operational antics. They demand detailed planning, and drawn up documentation on their terms, and they aren't wrong in doing so.

Your small business is probably extremely good at providing it's specific products or services. You probably have your own methods, terms, documents, resources, etc. When you engage a big business, and they demand you use their methods, documents, terms, resources, etc. you are very likely to get annoyed or flustered, after all, what do they know!

In fact, big businesses are big because they've weathered the process so many times... long before your start-up even existed. They've likely dealt with fantastic and terrible vendors a 1,000 times over, and already know how to ensure a project is successful to the best of their ability - you need to show them that you can make the project successful to the best of your ability.

Like a grumpy sailor, they may lash out. Telling you your rates are too high, that your documentation is too poor, that your terms are unreasonable or lacking! Despite the perceived attack, consider whether they are actually helping you, providing you with insight into their world, and your competitors. Take their complaints as opportunities to improve or refine your own processes. They are performing their duty: they are weeding out the vendors that can't deal with it, that can't meet the standards of big business.

So before you throw in the towel and say "you're being unreasonable potential big business client!" Consider their history and experience. Work with them reasonably, and when you're unsure, frustrated, or about to give up, give yourself some time, sleep on it if you have to - You may wake up with a different perspective and attitude.

Regardless of the outcome, if you've gone the distance to make it work, you can walk away with the knowledge of what is expected when working with big business. You can prepare yourself and your company for the next attempt, and lay the foundation so that one day, you'll be the steering the ship instead of grasping for ropes.

Thanks for reading my post. Are you a big business that needs help weathering R&D storms? Reach out to me on Linked-in or submit a message on our website @

We build apps, databases, integrations, websites, and more!

Christopher Eaton

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