How can I become a supplier?

Dear Aunty B,

I will try to keep this short, so excuse my shorthand. I am looking for some business start up ideas. Married male 40, four kids, took a career break for three years from construction to look after our newborn twins when business was declining, with a view to changing career direction.

I was fortunate enough to be able to afford this break up to now but I’m anxious to get moving again. So here is the deal: my wife’s family have a group of hotels, four here and six more in another country. I have absolutely no involvement in this business and would prefer not to ask for a job either, as at no point was I offered any help in employment when out of work.

My father-in-law would be a very hard task master, worked morning to night to build this business to where it is today, would never be flash with cash or anything like that. He started from scratch on his own and is very strong-minded (a bit like myself, so maybe this is where the personally clash is).

In my opinion he would look at me now and wonder why I gave up my job. He would like to see what I’m made of and would go ballistic to see me continue to be unemployed.
So finally my question… As they outsource most of their products, which line of business would be more profitable or viable: bathroom toiletries, ie. small bottled shampoos, etc. Import or manufacture one’s self with own brand? Toilet paper? Laundry?

I think they tried this in-house but it did not work so well. Wine import? Car rental? Push bike hire? I’m a complete novice but I presume even with the four local hotels that surely a decent living with two or three employees could be achieved during the tourist season? The business would be there so if I knew how to run it, all that would be required is for me to ask, and they would move suppliers. I am just not sure what direction though. If successful I could expand to other hotels, etc.

Thanks for your time,

Dear John,

You are assuming a lot of things. Firstly, that you will be able to – with no experience – take on major corporations and very clever start ups to break into a market – whether wine, car rentals, cosmetics, where you have absolutely no experience. You also assume that you would be able to supply the hotels at a competitive price – but chances are you would be producing these products in such small volumes that you would come in way above what he will pay. You also assume your father-in-law would buy from you. I suggest he is highly unlikely to buy from you.

This man knows how to run a successful business and people like that don’t take on family members – especially those who tend to think of him as a hard task master who doesn’t throw around his cash instead of as a successful business man who is worth emulating.

John, it sounds to me as if you want either an easy ride with the family business (why should they offer you a job?) AND you also want his admiration.

Here is what you must do. Start a small company called “Wefixeverything. Get together a network of all the people you need to fix everything and start advertising. Build it up in your local area and expand interstate. Once you are established and have a good reputation, approach your father-in-law and ask if you could be the “fixer” to the hotels in Australia. If all goes well, you could also pick up a contract for the hotels overseas, thereby launching yourself into the other country.

Either that or go back to construction. It is terrific you want to move on. But stick to what you know. Smart businesses are built on opportunities and you can only see opportunities when you are looking the right way.

Good luck!
Your Aunty B

To read more Aunty B advice, click here.

Email your questions, problems and issues to right now!


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SmartCompany Plus

Sign in

To connect a sign in method the email must match the one on your SmartCompany Plus account.
Or use your email
Forgot your password?

Want some assistance?

Contact us on: or call the hotline: +61 (03) 8623 9900.