Selecting vendors and business partners are some of the most critical decisions a business leader can make. Especially for a growing company or one undergoing change, a business partnership can heavily influence your company direction, culture, and even its bottom line. With so much at stake, the right vendor needs to be a company you can trust to keep your best interests in mind - which is why I value the power of utilizing local connections.

When I founded 250ok in 2012, the decision to start in Indianapolis was non-negotiable. I grew up here, went to school here, and started my career here. Despite having since grown to achieve a global presence, our commitment to an Indianapolis headquarters remains.

Become a True Team with Your Partners

Relationships serve as the building blocks of success in any business. But, B2B relationships also require good personal relationships between your employees and your vendor partners. Investing in relationships with local partners is a critical component of creating a sense of camaraderie for three reasons:

  1. Local partners engage in more face-to-face communication. While technology makes it easy to meet with anyone, in any region of the world, there's still something to be said for meeting in person. Face-to-face communication forges tighter bonds because it allows for more small talk, an opportunity to read body language, and the ability to give someone your full attention without worrying about technical difficulties like poor audio or video quality and slow internet speeds.
  1. Local partners remove potential barriers such as time zone. While we live in a global economy, time zone difference is still a very real issue. If you're in Indianapolis and you're doing business with a partner in Japan, one of you is going to be up very early or very late. Again, this inconvenience results in less small talk, as one person will feel bad for making the other talk outside of normal business hours. The lack of pleasantries is detrimental to building interpersonal trust.
  1. Local partners must abide by the same local laws and regulations. We already see this with laws like GDPR and the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act. Many companies outside of the UK and California aim to comply with legal requirements as a cautionary measure. However, what happens when a partner isn't required to maintain compliance with a law in your state or country? Doing business with them could become a liability to your organization. By keeping your partners local, you reduce risk because you are both bound by the same laws and regulations.

Understand Regional Business Problems

Each region has unique business problems. In Silicon Valley, it may be the fierce competition for VC funding, the hectic pace in which business happens, or the casual California attire. In New York City, it could be the expensive commercial real estate, market saturation, or the impossible logistics of getting around and getting there on time. When dealing with local vendors, you're all on the same page about the current situation in the region. You understand each other's pain points and could potentially come together to solve some of the problems in ways not possible for two companies from different areas.

A local vendor will also understand the challenge of competing with companies in larger cities. A California-based company also will have a hard time understanding what your challenges are as an Indianapolis-based company competing with Silicon Valley-based businesses. 

They'll also lack an understanding of what your customers want. People in the midwest can have different hangups, challenges, and motivations to buy than customers on the East Coast, West Coast, and abroad. Having a vendor who understands your customer is a critical piece of serving your customers and meeting their unique needs. 

Support the Local Economy

Being a tech company, we're always competing with Silicon Valley. Many great companies come out of California, but when it comes down to it, we would rather invest our time, money, and energy into local opportunities.

It's easier to establish shared goals - When partnering with local organizations, both companies are committed to the success of our city. Two companies with a shared goal can make things happen much faster than two companies on two different pages.

Local investment is healthy for the region. When we invest in our area, the entire region wins. The economy improves, the infrastructure gets better, and more businesses see what we've accomplished and want to invest in the region too. Truly local partners won't move their business elsewhere; they're committed to seeing their area succeed by putting its people to work and making it an all-around better place for everyone living and working there. 

Realistically, every partner can't be local because what you're looking for might not exist locally, or it's simply not the right fit. Other reasons not to go local may be the cost or the fact they lag behind their competitors, in which case you must prioritize the well-being of your own business. 

Prioritizing local vendors does not mean your solutions don't work across state lines or you don't understand the global market, it merely shows you also value the community in which you live. It also shows a commitment to offer your team more accessible partners who align with your community goals, understand the regional business landscape, and support the local economy, ultimately benefiting the entire community.