Worst Kept Secret?
The US Commercial Service programs used to be referred to by folks as one of the best kept secrets in international business consulting.
Gold Key, International Partner Search, Single Company Promotion, trade missions, etc. are bargain priced and effective programs run by the local offices of the commercial service in countries around the world. There's almost no other way to establish the local connections, with instant credibility. The programs are amazingly effective.
And common experience was that the length of time required to coordinate details (clarify objectives of a business trip) was about the lead-time required to have the commercial consulate begin the work on your behalf.
But recently that has changed. Now lead-times for their popular international business consulting services are often in months. Could it be that the best kept secret is now the worst?
On the one hand the increase in activity is gratifying. Under the National Export Initiative companies have become increasingly aware of the opportunities inherent in international business development. Although still a tiny percentage of American SMEs, nevertheless many more are pursuing international opportunities.
And that is quickly overwhelming the limited resources where they are most critical and effective - on the ground in foreign markets.
For companies that are experienced in export perhaps this is merely an inconvenience - but what's the likely impact on those SMEs who are tentatively considering their first foray into international business and desperately in need of the international business consulting and export assistance solutions of the Commercial Service? Unfortunately they will likely become discouraged - the Commercial Service may have become too successful!
Headlines & Frustrations
Add to that the very public and messy debate regarding the Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, and one finds an environment which may not be quite as nurturing for naturally hesitant fledgling exporters as would be ideal.
What's the answer? No easy or quick one - it remains a group of folks committed to helping American companies succeed in international sales, and a tremendous resource. If you are a user of their international business consulting services, though, it might not hurt for you to provide positive feedback and suggest increased resources through your congressional delegation.
At the end of the day, though, their services represent elements of a comprehensive plan. Many companies benefit from more comprehensive strategic, implementation and execution assistance. Contact us to learn how we can help your business maximize its international business potential.
Considering engaging some international business consulting support? Download our free whitepaper to learn more about whether/how to select an export advisor.