In addition to handling day-to-day operations and long-term strategy, small business owners are responsible for finding trustworthy suppliers to do business with — and that's no small task. That's why Pietra vets suppliers for small business owners depending on their specific business needs. With our vast amount of resources and tools, we can help you avoid common problems and find the most profitable solutions for your business.

Most startups want to test several suppliers, but that can be challenging and time-consuming.

Many small businesses in America have suppliers based overseas, but this isn't always the best practice as it can distance business owners from their product and leave room for a lapse in communication. This strategy also makes it easy for business owners to get locked into high order quantities with private manufacturers. If you go this route, your capital can get tied up in inventory, or your shipment can get stuck in a place you can't even find.

There are alternatives to this option. You can efficiently discover low minimum order quantity (MOQ) suppliers who share your values and match your needs. We can help any small business owner find the perfect fit, including those wondering about:

  • How to start a fashion line

  • How to start a makeup line

  • How to start a candle line

  • Private labeling suppliers

  • Contract manufacturers

8 Traits to Look for in Suppliers for Small Business

You need competent suppliers who can deliver state-of-the-art products on time with prices and quantities you are comfortable with. It's also becoming increasingly important to work with suppliers who share your customers' values.

Matching Values

Finding suppliers for small businesses whose values align with yours can seem impossible because most overseas manufacturers are thinking only about how they can make and sell more of their products.

They don't attach the same importance to social issues that you and your customers may have. Here are some of the parameters that may make your products more attractive to discerning shoppers:

  • Sustainable
  • Made in USA
  • Made by women
  • Organic
  • Handmade
  • Made by BiPOC
  • FDA certified
  • Affordable pricing
  • Made overseas
  • Luxury
  • 10+ years in business
  • Ethical manufacturing
  • Expert craftsmanship

A good search tool designed specifically for finding small business suppliers enables you to creatively set your parameters to search hundreds of reliable, vetted suppliers quickly.


Reliability means that you get the right products as described delivered on time.

Large suppliers are usually reliable because they've been in business long enough to grow big and learn the high value of reliability. They also have the resources and systems to deliver even if a problem arises.

However, with a small supplier, you may be able to grow a close working relationship, particularly if you're the principal customer. You may get better responses to requests like holding stock for you or fulfilling rush orders.


Stability is important. An experienced supplier who has been in business for a long time isn't going to disappear when you need them. Stability becomes even more critical if they are the sole supplier of an item your business depends on.

Exercise due diligence by checking credit history and talking to other businesses who have used the supplier.

Private Labeling or Contract Manufacturing?

Private labeling allows you to market an existing product with your private label on it. Private labels enable you to move quickly to sell proven products as your own. This is especially important if the product needs certification or development that can take a long time. Apparel suppliers, makeup suppliers, and fashion accessory suppliers often offer private labeling.

Use contract manufacturing when you want to create a product yourself that no one else is making. You get a unique offering, but it can take longer to bring it to market than private labeling. If you have your own jewelry designs, scents, or health product formulas, this is the way to go.

MOQ Compatibility

MOQ requirements that force you to buy more than a certain number of units exist because many manufacturers have very low operating profits. This is especially true in Asia.

Suppliers can set MOQ at total number per order or number per model, size, or color. That's why it's smart to confirm MOQ before ordering.

Make sure you are comfortable with their MOQ, especially when you're first starting so that you aren't stuck with inventory. It may be better to pay slightly higher prices to get low MOQ suppliers.

While you can sometimes negotiate a lower MOQ, it's not realistic to ask for a lower MOQ and lower prices together.

Pricing Compatibility

Find a supplier whose pricing matches your pricing model. You may need to determine your pricing model before you can realistically search for the best supplier.

When you have strong selling points like a brand name with a large following or a unique, premium product, your per-unit profit margin might be high enough to give you wiggle room on price. You could offer suppliers slightly higher prices to gain benefits in other areas.

If you're selling based on price alone, you'll need to find the supplier who can give you the best price while maintaining acceptable quality standards.

Testing Suppliers

Test out more than one supplier to find the right one for you. You'll need a supplier who:

  • Can scale with you
  • Has goals compatible with your plans
  • Achieves 100% on-time delivery
  • Is ISO 9000 approved
  • Is fully responsive within 24 hours
  • Offers assistance with new designs
  • Provides new samples quickly

Get the Right Fit

Be prepared to go through several rounds of samples to make sure the fit is right. It's impossible to properly evaluate reliability, responsiveness, and personal chemistry without working with a supplier through more than one order cycle.

Professional Help Choosing the Right Supplier is Available

Pietra helps small business creators find the perfect supplier and launch their product business. We offer creators an easy-to-use way to search small business suppliers, as well as:

  • Access to our supply network
  • Creative brand services
  • Packaging design
  • Fulfillment
  • Warehousing
  • Shipping and returns

You'll find everything a business creator needs to launch a product business, all on one platform. You get instant access to more than 200 vetted sources offering trouble-free sampling. You can easily create a business blueprint using any of our services that match your business needs, including:

  • Product line suggestions
  • Expert creative designers
  • Trusted suppliers
  • Help financing your business
  • Step by step business setup

Pietra enables you to quickly find the perfect suppliers for small businesses while removing the headache of working with overseas and high MOQ vendors. Get started free with Pietra right now.