Human beings are social by nature. This explains the billions of dollars we spend every year on tourism. We travel the world to enjoy new scenery, to meet new people, to try new foods, and for the newness of the experience.
When we have goods and services ‘tour’ across international borders, we call it international trade.
There is an underlying similarity between tourism and international trade that brings out the explorer within us.
Sounds like fun already, doesn’t it?
Seeing your products on the shelves of a department store in a foreign country, or accepting a two year work assignment overseas are naturally pleasing experiences.
They satisfy our social nature of having others like and approve of what we do. The more lives we can positively affect by our products and services, the higher our satisfaction.
International trade sets the stage for greater satisfaction and higher profits which may be difficult to achieve if we elect to remain in our local markets. Challenging yes, but it also brings rewarding opportunities.
During the exchange of products and services across international borders, we showcase what we pride ourselves in whether it is quality, unique solutions, signature items or simply high manufacturing standards.
Your products and services tell a story
Countries tend to have signature items that are defined by elements these countries feel strongly and proudly about. For example, what items come to mind when Switzerland is mentioned? You will probably think of chocolate or watches, and you would be correct.
Have you thought about your country’s signature items? What about your company? What is your signature brand item and why? Are you ready to show it off to the world?
If you are an entrepreneur or an established business with international trade aspirations, think of yourself as an ambassador.
The products and services you export will tell stories about who you are and where you come from.
People in this field have a lot of passion for what they do and will capitalize on every chance to proudly announce it.
Get your basics right
International trade can be a very rewarding when the right steps are taken.
Is the FITTskills program for you?
Developed by business for business, FITTskills meets the needs of those who are
- seeking to enhance their import-export career standing,
- new to exporting or importing,
- and those who simply want add to their expertise or gain valuable educational credits.
When I took my first Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) course called FITTskills Global Business Environment, we learned three important elements to consider when evaluating your company’s international trade readiness:
1) You have to have it going on at home. This means that you have an up and running business in your home country and you are doing well.
2) You have to have excess capacity, which means that you are able to satisfy any additional demand generated by international trade efforts.
3) You have to be committed with a lot of passion.
Connect and contribute to the global village
I heard from an Export Development of Canada (EDC) executive that “exporting is not a matter of if, it is rather a matter of when“. There is only so much expansion you can do in your local market before you realize the need to do more.
This focus on international trade has driven Trade Agreements like NAFTA and the recently signed Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA). Others are still being put together, like the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Europe, which is to be finalized within the next couple of years. Such serious efforts between countries signify the importance of international trade and how it will shape the future.
International trade is a strong contributor to making our world a true global-village.
Once you make the decision to go international, the globe is the limit. If you are running a successful business in your home country, if you know you can handle additional demand, and if you have the resources and passion, then start exploring your options with international trade.
Start thinking about your target market, marketing to different cultures, shipping options, working with agents and distributors, and most importantly, how to get paid. You may also consider the option of contracting with an export trading company that can act as your export arm and get you to your desired markets.
Connecting with people who are in the field is very valuable, and social media is proving to be a very powerful tool. You can tap into global wisdom from the comfort of your office. Remember, these people—like you—have a lot of passion for what they do, and they enjoy meeting new people; they are natural tourists.
Clearly this is not for every business. Even if you think you are ready, ensure that you have an exit strategy in case things do not turn out as you envisioned.
No, this is not being pessimistic, it is being ready and prepared with the right expectations. If the tourist or explorer or ambassador within you is calling, start your engines and start your tour of our global village.