Imagine running a relatively low-key service on the web. You’re small. You’re humble. You’re happy.

Along comes super big, well-known, huge corporation who wants to contract your services and in order to do so, you must go through a pretty tedious, long and involved audit that could take a few months, JUST to be able to do business with them.


Super big, well-known, huge corporation is a great contact.
Above named corporation is a nice little name to add to the client list.
The financial arrangement doesn’t stink.


Time consuming audit process.
If you don’t pass the audit – – time consuming time was wasted.
Audit process could take up to 2 months.

As a small, humble business that tends to fly a bit under the radar – – do you? Or don’t you? Even if your business doesn’t pass the audit – – do you consider it time well-spent in terms of experience, learning and growing? Inquiring minds want to know.

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24 thoughts on “Imagine”

  1. You should if you want to grow, yea? I would like to think that some day you’ll be sitting at home in your jammies NOT working your fingers to the bone. Can’t do that unless you can call your own shots about when to go into the office, since your huge staff (or perhaps in your case national designer team) will be doing the designing and you’ll do the occasional design and be the final-approval-giver-lady. 😀

    BUT, if you’re happy where you are and you’re doing well without Major Said Company, you could decline. I think your designs and ingenuity are worth more than that, personally.

  2. Done both the Big Well Known Coproration and the Small thing. There’s a lot of great security in the big contract, but normally you don’t make as much money on them than you would doing several smaller jobs. The Big thing is also a lot more headaches, and normally a lot more demands. There’s a few of them that all but prey on the smaller people looking for the Big life and all the attention that comes with it, so be careful. If you want, feel free and drop me an e-mail since we can give a few details there that I doubt neither of us feel comfortable giving here. 🙂

  3. Hard call. I’d be tempted to think of it as “Well, if I do it this time and they reject me, then the next group that asks, all I’ll have to do is update this audit.” You have to have a life, as well, though, so maybe not. And updating an audit is never as easy as you thought it would be; they all ask different questions.

    Do you -really- want this?

  4. Depends.

    What were the humble company’s goals when established?

    How big does humble company wanna be?

    Can humble company manage present obligations AND do the audit without burnout?

  5. Lisa- get your business plan out. Decide if this was the type of business you envisioned in the original plan. Will the new work hurt or help your existing business.
    P.S. I have never imagined you to shy away from a challenge! Please keep us posted.

  6. All good advice and thoughts – thanks everyone for leaving your two cents.

    Growing pains, man . . . growing pains.

    And Pam – you’re dead on . . . a challenge like this is something I generally hit head on. I wish I could share the details . . . but I’m bound by one of those pesky confidentiality agreements. This is something bigger than I had envisioned for us . . . but certainly not out of the realm of possibility 😀

  7. 7- take that and start working on your decision. If it is failure you are afraid of, I fear you may be looking for something that isn’t there. The worst that could happen by failing an audit would be to learn from it. You will know what to improve on for future business. But as I said, I do not see failure in your future. You know better than anyone what it is you are working towards. But do keep us posted as to the decision you make.
    Have I told you you are my hero:mrgreen:

  8. I don’t profess to know much about the situation all I can give you is my philosophy on life…. If you do it an fail you might live to regret it, if you miss out on an oppotunity you will certainly regret it.

    Oh and don’t eat yellow snow….

  9. I agree with some of the advice and disagree with some. I think some small businesses fail because they tend to look at any contract as being profitable. If you get a contract for X amount and you aren’t making X amount now then surely you are making money right? Well, not necessarily. Have you figured in the costs of delivering to your client? Will it require more staff, equipment, etc? What about the time it will take to administer this account? Not sure if you have worked with big corporations before or not, but if not…whatever you think it will take, double it. At least. Especially if you are working with anything that remotely sounds like it involves a committee decision. Don’t forget all the extra reporting and meeting time. Can you recoup the cost of the audit down the road?

    Point being there are many variables to question on whether this might be profitable or if it is a justified expense. And it is an expense if you aren’t getting compensating for your time.

    Consider everything. Good luck.

  10. Grins is right on the mark with her comments. Consider everything and overlook not even the minutest of detail.

    Having ‘been there, done that’ myself I can only add that a thorough evaluation of the deal is called for, considering whether the allure of the corporate hooch and check size meets any of your business’ long-term objectives outside of the here and now.

    Success comes with it’s own highs and lows, but the one commonality is that the ‘little guys’ will always be your ‘bread and butter;’ the long-term, steadfast, reliable income-bringers, as opposed to the occasional and unreliable large bursts of cashflow.

    Again, as Grins stated, consider everything before committing your company to this or any corp. or government projects. This is one facet of business where one deal can literally make a business or break it.

    In any event, hope that helps and congrats on the offer!

  11. Of course you should try!

    Even if you ‘fail’ the audit:
    1) they may allow remediation / retry
    … and (more importantly)
    2) you will know areas where you are deficient for future opportunities!

    Just my $.02

  12. Well, I just CLICKED across you block, and have really enjoyed what I have read! As for your business venture, if you don’t NEED it, go with your heart. Go through the audit, and that might give you a better idea to whether or not it is right for you and your business!

    Good luck!

  13. Hey! I absolutely love your blog!! I’d love to list you on my site but I’m surfing through Blog Clicker and the option to add you to my list is off the screen… 😯 do you think you could email me your link? I want to be sure I’m able to find it again! Thanks so much!!

  14. Do it. No matter what it will be good experience. If you do get the job, do whatever you need to to make it work – after that you’ll have the experience to know if you want to go more in that direction or not. It’s kind of like taking a new job – it would be nice if you could work there for a few months before you actually agree to take the job. If you enjoy the big-name-corporation experience, the door will be open to go in that direction. If it sucks, you can go back to flying under the radar. Either way you win.

  15. If only it were that easy and there weren’t any consequences other than “that didn’t work”. Often in big business arraingments you have to sign a ‘personal indemnity’ guarantee form. This means that if there are backcharges and you can’t pay, they can go after you personally. So Big Fat Company penalizes you because something didn’t go right and their contract says they can, then the small business owner can lose everything they own, including their home, to satisfy the contract. There’s a LOT of hooks to being a business owner that people don’t know about, and something like this should never be entered into on a whim because there can be substantial losses. It also wouldn’t hurt to have a corporate lawyer take a look at the contract before signing it.

  16. As a former QA, TQM, and ISO specialist both in private and public sector settings, I absolutely think you should do it.

    1) All the pros you already mentioned.

    2) Once done, assuming you do well, you can point to your audit as a means of winning other new contracts.

    3) If you fail the audit and lose the contract, it is NOT wasted months of time and wads of money. It is a valuable learning tool. You will get terrific information about what your business is doing well, and not. Use that information about what works to increase your positives. And use what you learn about what doesn’t work to eliminate waste and reduce errors.

    4) Always remember the number one maxim of quality: quality pays for itself.

    I suggest not only going through with this process, but also going for it all with full-blown ISO certification. And since your business is small, initiating an ISO process will be, for you, far less imposing than it would be for a giant conglomerate with warehouses full of documents and data.

    Once you have that certificate on the wall that says ISO Certified, you have a powerful bargaining tool for all future contract negotiations, and many new doors will open–thousands of businesses will ONLY do business with those within the ISO circle. And ISO certification will often be allowed to substitute for a contractor’s usual in-house audit before awarding a contract.

    You can’t lose.

  17. How many minds do you have? It seems to me this is a dare to be great situation…the obvious advice is dare to be great. I hate to be obvious. I guess I’ll just have to get over it.

  18. Everyone has such great advice here — thank you for that!

    I’m going with my gut on this one and am going for it. We’re two days into the audit and things seem to be going pretty smoothly so far.

    When I am able to – I will definately provide an update to this situation 😀

    *keeping fingers crossed*

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