I really see them more as business partners.
But let’s call them suppliers for the purposes of this post.
I have worked with them for a combined 22 years.
On the way home I considered the four factors that matter most for small business and key suppliers.
You can boil it down to four questions, in this order:
1) Can they deliver? (Operations)
2) Can you trust them? (Ethics)
3) Do you like them? (Trust)
4) Do you want to work with them for the next five years and beyond? (Sustainability)
Anything else is detail.
If you work for a large company where you don’t know the supplier owner personally, it’s a whole different ball game.
Good luck with that.
The good news is that there’s lots on this blog (search it) and www.ethicalcorp.com on that topic.