Turn to a friend or colleague who runs a small business and ask, “Are you global?” More often than not they will say, “No, not yet.” And this is usually a business owner who’s had his or her business for more than two decades. What’s the holdup? You can ask, but in my experience, responses generally fall into these top 10 excuses.
1. I am scared I won’t get paid
Stop right here. To put your mind at ease, review the resources under the "refresher" section at the end of this entry. In the case of overseas sales, you have to take extra precautions to secure payment, but just like with your local customers, you also have to trust who you're dealing with.
2. It doesn’t apply to my business
If you offer your intellectual capital to local customers, you can offer the same capability to customers abroad. For example, consulting is called a service export. If you want to grow, exporting is how you go about it.
If you can produce 5,000 or 50,000 of something—for example, brooms—in a week, then you certainly have the capacity to export. That’s called a product export. You might have to tweak it a bit to accommodate the overseas market, but the operations manager in the factory can work with you on this without too much trouble.
3. I have no idea how to go about it
Oh puhleeze…with the Internet, anything is possible. You can search just about any question or topic related to importing, exporting and outsourcing.
Refresher: American Express OPEN Forum, Laurel Delaney
4. Too risky
Selling anyone, anywhere involves risk, but you can minimize financial exposure by taking extra precautions. Get your banker or financial institution involved. Explain what you intend to do and ask for their advice. Follow it to a tee and make sure you get the answer to this question: “Will I get paid if I do my part right on this transaction?” Further, consult with your lawyer, accountant and logistics company every step of the way to ensure you are doing everything right. That’s how you reduce risks.
Refresher: Building Your Crack Export Dream Team
5. It will take away from my domestic operations
The first time you sold brooms to Kansas, did it take away from your local Chicago business? Doubt it. If anything, it fueled the notion that you can grow with ease and should be looking at opportunities elsewhere in the world.
6. Where will I find customers?
They are everywhere. You just need to know where to look. Are you on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter? That’s a start. Don’t keep posting statements and resources. Ask questions. For example, “I am seeking customers for brooms. Is anyone interested?” If you don’t ask, you’ll never know who’s out there as a potential customer.
7. I can’t afford it
Can you afford not to grow? Here’s where your banker or financial institution can step in to advise you on how best to manage international orders. It is hard to say how much you will spend. A good way to estimate is to use your domestic operation as a guide to how well you might perform internationally. For example, if you have achieved success capturing a local share of market, then you will most likely achieve similar success in the global marketplace, provided you target your market and select the right product for export.
8. I don't have time to manage exports
If a customer in Ireland wants to order 50,000 of your brooms or asks for U.S. $300,000 of your firm’s consulting time, would you find the time, especially if you netted an extra U.S. $100,000 in profit at the end of the year? Rethink how you are looking at going global. Make the world your business.
9. My manufacturing facility could never keep up with the demand
Is your factory currently producing thousands of products for you or other companies? If so, then they have the capacity to manufacture to specification for your overseas customers. Have a conversation. You won’t know until you ask. Find out what it takes to service the needs of customers abroad who order large quantities. In most instances, manufacturing facilities love big orders because it enables them to schedule a production run and ready it for loading straight into a 20 or 40-cubic feet containers destined for overseas. Everybody wins!
10. Too complicated
Like anything new, it seems complicated at first, but it’s really more about managing change. Change has its challenges, but once you wrap your mind around the unfamiliar and come up with a plan that takes baby steps toward results, you’re well on your way.
You’re either a worldly business or not. What’s your excuse?