Monday, June 1
You've Got to be "In It" to Win It Never Applied More #GoGlobal
After I graduated and got in the real world of advertising, my observances of the small business people taught me far more than a classroom ever could. There were those (no matter how great their customer service) who just couldn't make a go of it. Others succeeded in ways which were a mystery to me. Dumb luck, I guess.
But for those who achieved some modicum of success, they found their niche and were able to grow. Their business built jobs for family and others. Some expanded their enterprise to other locations and many, eventually online.
These people took a challenge and grabbed it. They worked out what they knew and studied to learn more of what they didn't. It takes a special kind of entrepreneur to succeed and build a business for a lifetime. It really made no difference whether they chose to stay small or to expand. Their accomplishment spoke volumes.
Now that anyone with a plan and some gumption has access to an international marketplace on the Internet, it brings new challenges. I would have never thought that my small, online business would be shipping product to Moscow, or Buenos Aires or Tokyo. But I have; and now service customers worldwide.
Which brings me to the point of this post. The idea of sending merchandise to customers overseas used to scare the heck out of me. I knew there were customs regulations and I knew it would be ever more expensive (even if the customer paid the shipping). Who would even care to spend extra to buy from me?
I took the step first by selling action figures and opened up sales to a worldwide audience. Amazingly, even in the early 2000s, there were people willing to buy and pay a premium for my goods!
The first step is getting past that fear. When businesses are growing and succeeding, there always seems to be a similar barrier: expanding globally. I’ve worked with more business owners than I can count who just don’t want to go the extra mile (pun intended) and expand their markets internationally.
There are various reasons entrepreneurs hesitate before taking the global leap. For one, there’s a popular myth that shipping across borders significantly changes the status quo. Yes, no one likes change, but the logistics behind international shipping can be just as easy to navigate as domestic shipments once you know the rules.
An easy way to get your feet wet is to take a single product and start selling on an established international marketplace like eBay. For any ecommerce business, I suggest starting slowly and first deciding which products and countries blend best for your business. Read my article here for tips on how to save money while expanding your business globally.
This week I will go to IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition). If you ever intend on stepping into a full-blown ecommerce business, there is no better place to start (once you've read my books - of course). The sessions are most excellent sources of information.
Granted, going to the conference is quite expensive for a small business. So I recommend going for the first time to just the exhibits, where a pass is $75 (when you purchase in advance). The exhibits at IRCE cover a 250,000 square foot show floor and boast over 600 vendors showing off the latest in technologies for the new retail economy. The ideas that will come to your mind when walking the floor will be dazzling. Plenty of ROI to cover your transportation and hotel!
No doubt when you're there, you will see a badge of someone you've met online or a representative for a service you've considered using. Its the perfect place to get recommendations and network with other businesses like yourself.
I will be at IRCE 2015 sharing the experience recording videos (using Periscope too) and doing a book signing in the Pitney Bowes booth (#743) on Wednesday and Thursday.
Pitney Bowes has been around a long time, and as a forward thinking company, has some new ideas for cross-border commerce. Talk to one of the people in their booth and learn how to take the next big step in enterprise level fulfillment. They will have experts who can help you develop and execute your international growth strategy.
It's a big step from shipping First Class International packets to moving your full business online. The Pitney Bowes folks are there to hold your hand to help you succeed. Stop by the booth and say hello. Tweet me @MarshaCollier or @PB_digital during and after the show and we'll be glad to point you in the right direction.