The biggest freakin' mistake I have ever made.....

Ed Marsh | Sep 7, 2011

You'll hate me and you'll hate export

Every project has dark days.  And your exporting project will be no different.  At some point during the process a series of discouraging circumstances will challenge you to rethink your commitment.

It may be a series of tenders lost because we meticulously adhere to FCPA requirements.  Or maybe a distributor who we find is surreptitiously selling a competitive product.  Perhaps the nagging and incessant chant of agents that "your price is too high."  Who knows what might trigger it, but at some point during this effort you will begin to feel frustrated and dubious, and then some event will trigger the flash that this was a huge mistake.

I'm OK with that

Here's the thing.  I know it's going to happen.  It won't hurt my feelings.  And if we have done our work well together it won't jeopardize the larger objectives.

It is entirely predictable, and of course not specific to exporting initiatives.  In Chip & Dan Heath's 2010 book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard they talk about a tool developed by folks at IDEO Design.  Called a "Project Mood Chart", CEO Tim Brown describes it as follows "(it is) shaped like a U. The beginning of any project is represented by the upper-left of the U, where people feel enthusiasm. At the upper-right of the U, when the project is over, there is confidence (assuming they nailed it). Between the two peaks, at the valley of the U, is what they label “insight,” where the real struggle happens because you’re caught in the middle of data, countless ideas, and what to do with it all. That’s also where you watch many ideas fail. Tim is quoted as saying that design is “rarely a graceful leap from height to height.” At the bottom of the U, it’s easy to be discouraged and overwhelmed."

No doubt you have experienced this in other areas of your business.  It isn't new to you, but it's worthy of a reminder.

You know your product and domestic markets.  We are good at mapping out appropriate target markets, building the channel and helping you execute.  But we aren't going to "gracefully leap from height to height."  However, exporting offers numerous benefits - most principally the opportunity to grow revenue and diversify market risk when your primary, domestic market, is stagnating or deteriorating.

In retrospect - instructional growth challenges

And when we do reach that "right hand height" - where there is confidence and your staff move to build more on their own - we will look back and understand how those frustrations and dark days were critical in developing the depth of program which is going to make your exports a long-term strategic component of your business.

Call me.  Let's get started sooner and we'll pass through those dark days earlier....and you'll have a robust program supporting your strategic objectives sooner.