February 2011 - Learning from the Past
It doesn’t seem that long ago (but actually It was) when I first ventured into the international trade scene. My first stop in search of a partner was in Tokyo, Japan. I was selling chemical-resistant countertops for research labs to a cabinetmaker in Tokyo, and I didn’t know one thing about international trade. It was on-the-job training for me, and I learned as I went forward.
It was a bit difficult to sell, due to the yen-to-dollar exchange rate, and we were also opening the market for the Japanese manufacturer for the very first time. I didn’t have much help in those days, although our own state commerce department did assign to me an ex-CEO in Tokyo, who helped me along the way. While our efforts did culminate in business—we got the job and all was well in the end—it didn’t come without its stumbling blocks.
Back then we were cutting forest with machetes. Today, we have brush hogs that go out and clear a path, acres at a time. With systems set up locally, a wealth of experience available and assistance in the area of international trade, small business owners need to be aware that they can become profitable by expanding into international markets—and it’s not as difficult as it once was. Mistakes can be averted due to the experience of others.
If there is only one message you get out of this issue, it’s this: Get involved.
As you read the articles, a number of things will become apparent. First, the Greater Lansing area is well-positioned to aid and launch businesses into their international trade careers. We have a fulll-time, 24/7 international airport that is ready and able to clear international passengers and cargo—and it’s one of only two in the state. Notice that we have an international trade center, and we call ourselves Port Lansing. Get acquainted with the center as you read along, and I think you’ll be amazed at the strides we’ve made in moving our business community toward fruitful, international trade.
On another note, one of my favorite evenings of the year is coming up: The Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Awards. (See page 47 for more details, or visit www.riskbringsreward.com.) We hope you will join us on March 10 for this momentous occasion.
Have a prosperous month,
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