Ever wonder what it really takes to muster up the courage to export? When I began my exporting journey, I did not think I had a special perspective on the business world. I just wanted to do something cool with my business and boost growth. I lost many nights of sleep trying to figure out how to do just that! The trick was how to do it on a shoestring budget while utilizing the great people and great products already in place. Re-examining the past, I realize now there is a pattern to how I behave that’s helped me succeed in the international marketplace.
Oddly enough, the traits that have always seemed natural to me are starting to coincide with what other experts are saying about the traits of export achievers. Let’s take a look at some of these qualities that you too can cultivate for export success.
1. Master change.
Ask yourself this: Can you embrace uncertainty and rise to the occasion? You must be able to address any new inquiry that comes your way — whether through a trade show, networking event, elevator ride, washroom break, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, direct email or a good old-fashioned telephone call — and shift your company's resources (namely, you!) to accommodate it.
The late Peter Drucker, one of the best management minds of our time, declared, "One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.” And as you create worldwide online connections, the need to be comfortable with change will become more acute.
2. Take calculated risks.
The more you risk, the greater your chances for either big success or big failure, but either way, you're pushing your limits and extending your reach. There comes a point in every initiative when you must recognize the risks and move forward anyway. Remember, you learn the most from failure, so take whatever chances you can afford.
3. Be passionate, enthusiastic, curious and inspired.
When the going gets tough, small business exporters rise to the occasion, create a plan, put a smile on their faces and, even when the odds may be against them, deliver. There’s never a point when they are not passionate or enthusiastic. They’re not wired that way.
Small Business Administration chief Karen Mills gets it. Having been a small business owner herself, she knows the potential for success for a business owner: “These are people who both have a vision and are thoughtful about their plan. They know where to reach out for help. They are visionary, inspired, passionate and pragmatic. The successful ones tend to build on their success. They'll get counseling help; they'll reach out for exporting help. They'll be looking ahead to the next piece of the process, but they'll have a plan.”
Show your eagerness to discover more, to do more and to push the limits of the known. You need curiosity to drive you in search of "more." Your passion, enthusiasm and curiosity need somewhere to go — why not global?
Take the next step, go the extra mile, and wonder what if, what's next, what’s possible. Curiosity can only give you a bigger, better and richer life.
4. Demonstrate boldness.
Some people call this "chutzpah," but I think it has more to do with self-assuredness. You have faith in your capabilities and don’t think twice about putting them to use. The bolder the move or more public the plan, the bigger the chance you have of showcasing your good judgment and your ability to hold yourself and your business accountable to get things done! It can be quiet or loud boldness, but when it’s practiced, you’re solid. It’s in line with No. 5 below.
UPS recently conducted a survey, “Business Monitor United States,” about, which I was quoted as saying, “Entrepreneurs who export are self-assured, adaptable and resilient so it doesn't surprise me that the survey shows exporters are confident about meeting their business goals.” Confidence and exporting go hand in hand.
5. Know yourself well before you present yourself in the global marketplace.
Getting ready to export is not easy. You must know yourself well enough to anticipate how you will react in new and difficult circumstances. You must be able to exercise self-control. You must develop inner security by counting yourself as valuable apart from your successes or failures. According to Business.gov, “companies that do business internationally grow faster and fail less often than companies that don't.”
When you know yourself well, you are able to build connections with others by listening, empathizing and understanding. The people skills that are so essential for cultivating relationships in the global e-marketplace start with the positive relationship you cultivate with yourself.
6. Fork up courage.
Going forward with anything about which you have even the smallest doubt takes courage. Putting your reputation on the line and making up your mind to deal with the consequences takes courage. Staying true to your vision and your mission — in this case, exporting — in the face of criticism and opposition takes courage. But if you can somehow call it up when you need it, your rewards will be extraordinary.
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Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of
GlobeTrade (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can reach Laurel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @LaurelDelaney.