The cold hard realities of international export
A mixture of gut instincts, business acumen, networks and of course a business model that no-one else had, gave us a head start. I also chose a city where the cost of setup was low, and the Australian dollar was sitting nicely at $1.06 to every American dollar. On top of that, new people knew me, so if I failed it wouldn't have been such a big deal.
Low and behold, we became somewhat successful. I say that, given that in some ways it's still a part-time business. It's hard to run multiple offices across many cities when at the end of the day there is one main decision maker and that is you.
But I am doing it, and more than surviving - I'm thriving.
Travel is a killer. I tried to never complain in the first 3 years, but now I feel like I am one of those people who sees hopping on a plane as being the worst part of my day. But once there, I get back on track and relax ready to tackle my next adventure.
Exporting marketing services to the US market is easier then you think. You would be surprised just how good Australians are at most areas of marketing; excluding use of marketing technologies and inside sales models as in these two areas, we lag.
The ladder two are areas that we fall short as a country dominated by creative marketers and Marketing Eye relies very heavily on our US team for education and adoption of new and innovative technologies that are going to help our client's businesses as well as our own.
If you are thinking of exporting a product or service, think about this:
- You have to give up a lot: your time is valuable and precious time with family and friends will never be replaced
- You have to have a big dream and be prepared to give it your all
- Market research is critical, otherwise you are literally throwing away money
- If you don't have a budget for marketing, don't do it
- Hiring the right people is the biggest issue you will face - hands down
- When you are running a lean operation, if someone leaves it's a nightmare, and you need to be prepared to hop on the next plane out
- You don't have a life. You think you do, but you don't. Better still, all your friends think your life is so glamorous that even you start to think that any complaint you may have is just throwing their "boring lives" in their faces
- It's painful. When there is bad news of any description, it hurts. Maybe that's being a woman, but gosh, sometimes I really think about whether I can take another set back.
- The success of your business depends on your people
- You cannot be too soft, they will eat you alive
- Culturally, Americans are different - and grits taste like crap and as an Australian there is no way you will ever acquire a taste for it
- If everyone is walking one way, walk the other - if you are not brave enough to do this, competition is fierce
- Work your arse off - and never complain that you are putting in more than anyone else. It's you who ultimately gets the reward.
Moody is something that has never been associated with me as a person. I am always thinking of the positive, yet when I have to travel internationally and I take a sleeping pill each night to sleep, I am definitely not my self.
But overall, if I didn't take this chance, and wasn't brave enough to do it myself, I would never have known whether I had the potential to grow a global company. Now I know for sure that not only do I have the capabilities, I can take it all the way.