By: Sue Doerfler

 

Having worked for several small print-management companies, Sarah Scudder observed that companies spending US$1 million to $5 million in print and marketing services didn’t have a centralized solution, nor did they single-source the category. “What surprised me the most was that procurement and marketing didn’t work cooperatively. Marketing controlled the marketing spend and typically didn’t want to work with procurement,” she says. Now, as president of Real Sourcing Network (RSN), a New York-based print-spend software provider, she’s working to change that.

 

Question: What should people consider before entering the entrepreneurial supply management space?

Answer: No amount of research, studying or mentorship will fully prepare you for entrepreneurship. The best learning happens when you take the leap. Your ability to plan and operate on a strict schedule goes away. No matter how type-A personality you are, startups thrive on uncertainty.

It’s important to do a lot of prep work, testing the market to make sure there’s an appetite for what it is you are selling. No matter how good your product or service is, it needs to generate revenue. It’s important to test the market — without investing a lot of money — to see who is willing to pay for your product.

Q: Is it challenging to get companies to work with entrepreneurs? A: Getting procurement professionals to do business with a startup is nearly impossible. It’s their job to mitigate risk, so working with a startup is risky. Often, a startup is learning and adapting on the fly. The customer can quickly become the guinea pig.