Choosing suppliers for your business

How to find the right suppliers


Finding the right supplier is vital for building a successful business. Think of suppliers as your business partners. Whether they provide you with services like internet, with distribution or raw materials, your supplier is an essential link in the chain of your business operations.

Where to find suppliers?

You can find suppliers through a variety of online and offline channels. Looking at different sources may give you more options to shortlist possible suppliers. No matter where you look, the search is likely to be easier if you know exactly what you're looking for.

Decide in advance what type of supplier you need and consider the levels of service, quality and price you are willing to accept.

Seek referrals and recommendations

Word of mouth can be a good place to start searching for a supplier. Ask friends and business acquaintances about their experiences. You're more likely to get an honest assessment of a supplier's strengths and weaknesses from someone who has used a supplier before.

Search business directories

If you're looking for a supplier in your local area, it's worth trying online directories. For example, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult operates a free-to-use UK Supply Chain Directory. You can use this online tool to: 

  • find new suppliers and customers
  • map the UK's capability in their sector or area
  • inform national programmes in manufacturing

Find out more about the UK Supply Chain Directory.

Consult business advisers

Business advisers can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to finding an experienced, well-regarded supplier.

You may want to approach local enterprise agencies and Chambers of Commerce, or services such as Invest NI's Business Information Centre where you can use market research reports, company databases and worldwide business directories to help you find suitable suppliers.

Contact trade associations

If your needs are specific to a particular trade or industry, there will probably be a trade association that can match you with suitable suppliers.

Visit trade shows and exhibitions

These offer a great opportunity to talk to a number of potential suppliers in the same place at the same time. Before you go, check that the exhibitors are relevant and suitable for your business. Use the Events Finder to find business events near you.

Check trade press

Trade magazines feature advertisements from potential suppliers. A selection of trade publications and trade press listings should be available at your local business library.

When you identify a number of potential suppliers, you'll have to assess their offering against your business' needs and requirements. Discover how to set and use criteria for selecting a supplier.