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Import/Export Success: First, Get a Companywide Commitment

Success in importing/exporting is directly related to a companywide commitment

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Success in importing and exporting (refer to “How to Start an Import/Export Business”) is directly related to a companywide commitment. That companywide commitment involves you alone if you are a sole proprietor, or in the case of a large corporation, the executive committee, finance, operations, marketing and sales, logistics, research, technology and culture.

Once you recognize the resources available to you and what it takes to export, import or outsource your product or service, prepare a list of what is required from each of these functional areas of your company. Then you’ll need to build your team. As globalization advances, more companies consider importing and exporting to expand their reputations, market reach and revenue sources. Meaning, the global reach is not always to purely import or export a product or service. Whatever your desire, you still need good people to make it happen.

Who do you look for? A new breed of communicator who pays attention to detail and who has great salesmanship qualities, persistence, integrity, an interest in international matters, bi- or multilingual language capabilities, cultural empathy, and good writing and speaking abilities. The individual must be an expert at human behavior of all race, cultures and ethnicities. They must have emotional intelligence beyond reproach. If you find part or most of this in a person, grab him or her!

You might need a person from each department to assist you either regularly or on an as-needed basis. Whatever it takes, the individual must know what will be required from him/her over time. He/she must also understand the international process and how each member's tasks fit into the overall global process. Don't be afraid to get this person’s commitment, preferably in writing, so they will be there for you on when you need him/her.

My recommendation is to have someone from each department set aside one hour each day just to work on an international sales strategy. It doesn't matter if there are no sales pending; it is critical to arrange a structured amount of time that requires discipline, commitment and exchange of information. It gives everyone the feelings of importance and team spirit that are critical for the growth and prosperity of the company.

As you work with your global team, they will need to be trained. The training involves you communicating the company’s vision, goals and objectives relative to importing and exporting at your company. It can be as simple as sitting down with each individual to discuss: What are we going after? How fast do we expect to get there? How will we get it done? Who will work on the projects as they pop up? How will we get help if we don’t know how to do something? How often do we need to meet? How will we measure results?

After explored these questions with key people within the organization, you’ll realize that the desire to expand internationally takes a team effort and commitment that defines and shapes the international process. If you are a novice globalist, your employees will learn as you learn, but the point is to get their input as often as possible and insist they execute their portion of the plan. You also want to convey that you are in this endeavor together to make it a success!

The companywide commitment should be a grassroots effort that emanates from everyone in the organization. It must also take into account the company’s infrastructure, strategies and processes to compete globally. Once in place, you are well on your way to positive developments that will bring good growth to you, your organization and your employees.

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