Key Ingredients for Healthy Relationships

Key Ingredients for Healthy Tier 1 & 2 Relationships


Building strong buyer-supplier relationships is key for any successful business. No relationship can function if both sides aren’t satisfied. That’s why companies like ConnXus and Onyx make it part of our mission to help businesses form strong buyer-supplier relationships that last, and ensure success in your industry for years to come.

There is an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”  This is a great metaphor for the importance of healthy Tier 1 & Tier 2 supplier relationships.  In an earlier blog we talked about the important role that Tier 2 suppliers fill in a supply chain.  Unfortunately, we hear from a lot of these suppliers that they don’t feel important, they feel disrespected.  Data shows that all business-to-business relationships are unhealthy if they don’t have 3 primary ingredients:

  1. Aligned Interests
  2. Clear Expectations
  3. Proper Governance

We will address Proper Governance in a future post.  Here we will focus on ingredients 1 & 2.

Whether two businesses find each other or are asked to work together by a shared customer, they must take the time and find their aligned interests.  A successful outcome (whether a product, a timeline, development of an idea, etc.) has a much higher probability with the right upfront work to dissect the opportunity with a critical view.  What does the customer really need (which may be different than what they actually say) and how can we confirm?  What’s the upside and downside of this scope of work?  What are the risks we can see clearly, and the ones we inherently are concerned about and how can we jointly manage or mitigate those risks?  What formal or informal agreements (e.g, who signs off on change orders) are needed to serve as “shock absorbers” as we jointly serve the end customer?

Businesses operate today at high speed, and a consequence of speed is often incorrect assumptions.  “I assumed you knew the timeline was changed!”  “Didn’t you read the 5th paragraph of my email where I highlighted this new customer requirement?”  It’s bad, and it gets worse by the day.  Healthy Tier 1/Tier 2 relationships are intentional about setting expectations – upfront through things like bid clarification meetings, and ongoing through things like quarterly business reviews.  They establish a forum and an agenda to clarify the supply chain needs, discuss what is driving those needs, and engage in healthy dialogue about alternatives to insure they will exceed the expectations of their end customer.

Simon Sinek is best known for his bestselling book:  Start with Why.  In his latest book:  Together is Better, he draws out some additional ‘truths’ that can help multi-tier supply chain participants deliver greater value if they remain top of mind:

  • A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other. (Aligned Interests)
    · Fight against something and we focus on the thing we hate. Fight for something and we focus on the thing we love.  (Clear Expectations)
    · Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.  (Clear Expectations)

In other words…go farther together.

Toi Clarke Jones is an expert in strategic sourcing for Onyx Sourcing Solutions. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of corporate finance, global purchasing and consulting.







Help Protect Your Business by Eliminating Cyber Security Threats

What can you do to make sure your business is a success? Most people would think this involves, among other things, careful planning, a well-designed and well-executed strategy and putting the right team in place for each task, and they’d be right. What some people may not think of, though, is doing everything possible to minimize and eliminate threats. Even if a business does everything else right, outside threats can still cause it to come crashing down.  Some of the largest and most rapidly growing threats, especially in today’s technology-driven world, are threats to cyber security.

Cyber security is critically important, especially if you’re a business that handles sensitive information like financial data, medical records or personal information. If the proper precautions are not taken, your network and the information it contains could be damaged or accessed without authorization. Once this happens, clients become unhappy, many of them will leave, and your business will struggle to stay afloat, particularly if you are smaller or newer than your competition.

How can you prevent this from happening? There are a variety of steps you can take. Plenty of companies specialize in cyber security, and many well-known companies like AT&T and Cisco have cyber security divisions. If you are a business owner or executive, make an effort to prioritize cyber security from the top down. Many advisory organizations, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology, recommend a shift toward data-focused approaches such as continuous monitoring and real-time assessments. These approaches have proven to be more effective than the more traditional perimeter-based model. 

No business wants to fail, and most business owners are willing to leave no stone unturned to prevent that from happening. However, it’s also important to take into account anything you may be missing. When it comes to an issue like cyber security, overlooking even the tiniest detail can lead to disaster, and that is a risk businesses simply can’t afford to take. Luckily though, the average person has many tools at their disposal to prevent such risks, and you can learn everything you need to know about protecting your cyber security in minutes!


Thinking of Taking Out A Loan? Here Are Some Helpful Tips

If you’re buying a house or starting a business, chances are you’re going to take out a loan sooner or later. No one likes the idea of being in debt, but money doesn’t grow on trees, and most people don’t have enough of it to pay for these expenses out of pocket. Taking out a loan is rarely a process anyone enjoys, but there are a few tips and tricks you can use to make it a bit easier.


  1. Try to pay off your debt before applying for your loan. If you already have a significant amount of debt, taking on more probably isn’t a good idea. Make sure your debts are paid off, or at least under control before applying for another loan. This can improve your credit score, and increase your chances of getting a good interest rate.
  2. Speaking of your credit score, it’s usually a good idea to check it before applying for a loan. The better your credit score, the better interest rate the lender will give you.
  3. Be sure you don’t miss any details. Always go over everything, and understand what the documents actually say. You don’t want to be caught off guard or surprised by anything in the fine print. Be on the lookout for things like prepayment fees, or penalties for paying off your loan early.
  4. Be sure you understand if you have a fixed rate or a variable rate. With a fixed rate, your payment will remain the same. With a variable rate however, your payments will go up as interest rates rise.
  5. Consult a financial expert for larger loans. If finance isn’t typically your area of expertise, seek help from someone who does this kind of thing for a living. Having an expert walk you through this process will help you ensure no mistakes are made.


Hopefully you found these tips helpful, and are able to find the loan that works best for you. Good luck!

Whatever your goals, it’s time to make things happen!

Whatever your goals, it’s time to make things happen!

Life is precious, you have only one opportunity and there is no re-do button. You never know what the future holds, or what’s hiding around the corner until you get there.

What does ‘time waits for no one’ mean to you? Until recently, it was just another wise saying my mother shared. While I felt the need to move forward, I did not realize the importance of keeping my actions purposeful and directed, and I slowly drifted off course. By not taking full ownership and accountability, I allowed relationships to lapse while I concentrated on my career. In the process I lost my sense-of-self and drifted from my passion. Now, I am beginning again…focused on creating a brighter future, sharing my journey and the knowledge I gained along the way.

Become the change you want to make

The road less traveled is filled with unexpected curves and hurdles, but the path forward is always just one step ahead.  Don’t give up.  If you go off course, readjust and continue forward.  Set approach goals.  Approach goals motivate you to achieve positive outcomes, rather than to avoid risk. Reframing your view increases your chance of success and reduces stress.

Women and men are different

Women strive for perfection more often than men. They idealize the ‘perfect-normal life’ (which does not exist). But like any insecurity, conquering these views requires re-wiring your view of the world. It’s normal to be nervous (especially if you are the only women in the room) but interpreting the jitters as excitement can propel you forward.  Change the narrative to change your perspective.

This internal dialogue is often the thing holding women back. The associated self-doubt is limiting. To avoid rejection, women do not apply for jobs unless they are 100% qualified as compared to men who apply with only 60% of the qualifications.  Hillary Clinton offered advice: “Too many young women are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously.” Learn to trust yourself, to laugh at your yourself and to gracefully recover from mistakes.

View mistakes as learning opportunities, some of the greatest discoveries were accidental, for example the maker of Coca-Cola was intending to create a pain killer, and penicillin was found when a petri dish was left out. The key is to keep an open mind, discover their potential and move forward.  And never blame yourself, mistakes will happen, learn from them.

Get on your feet

It’s time to make things happen. While this does not mean throwing caution to the wind and acting impetuously, it does require taking risks and following your passion. Women take calculated risks, and operate better under pressure than men. Apply this to charting your road forward.  Weigh the options and act. The hesitation to act can hold some women back.  To overcome your inhibitions, once you make up your mind, don’t delay, count backwards from three and act.

Are you in the right place? This requires sole searching, reconnecting with yourself and freeing yourself to act.  A recent survey found that 59% of working adults and 73% of professionals in their thirties were unhappy with their careers. When my work and my passion were aligned, I was energized. I felt a sense of purpose and value.

Is it time?

There is no right time to act. Every chapter presents a different set of challenges. If you know what you want, (you are ahead of the game) establish a plan of action.  Deciding not to make a plan is a choice that lets destiny and circumstance take control. I navigated my early career without a guiding star and it left me unfulfilled. It’s like taking a trip without a destination.  You will arrive somewhere, but this may not be the optimal path. Learn from me and have a plan! Making a plan allows you to make informed decisions, weigh options and measure progress. Track your progress, make mid-course adjustments and ask for guidance along the way.

If not now, then when?

I waited too long to make a change. Was it easier to do nothing? Probably. But there was a price to pay too. I sacrificed my happiness due to inaction. Why wonder what could have been when you can begin to live your dreams today? Life is precious, and you have only one opportunity (there is no re-do button) and you never know what the future holds, or what is hiding around the corner until you get there.  It’s time to make things happen!

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