Why ask Why?
It’s often one of those awkward moments when I first meet a business owner……….. I ask a question that does not appear to be challenging and where the answer is seemingly obvious – I get that look “really? – you are asking me that? Surely you know the answer? “ . In a group situation it is one of those questions from which I will often receive the exactly the same (quite appropriate) answer from the majority of the people present. That said, regardless of whether a business operator is highly experienced in international trade, or just starting out I always ask the same opening question when we meet – Why do you want to Export? – the answer I get from many is “to grow my business” – of course it is, so if it is so obvious why do I ask why?
Why Export? Is one of those questions that is undervalued, and often passed over without much thought – after all, you have made your decision to export – you know why (to grow your business or maybe another reason) so now you quickly want to move on how to do it. In your mind your reason for committing resources export is justified but is your justification deep rooted enough to maintain your motivation? Is it deep rooted enough to get or of your colleagues to commit unreservedly? Is it deep rooted enough to keep you focused on export activity when the going gets tough. Sure - you want to grow – but there are lots of options when considering that, so why have you chosen export? Export requires resources, change within the business and a certain “leap into the unknown” – so how can you justify putting focus into this rather than the more familiar “business as usual”.
Quite often when I suggest to a business that they use export as a cornerstone to their growth strategy I get the response “we tried that and it did not work” This is most disappointing when I seer a business that has so much international business potential as so many businesses do. Like most business activities establishing successful international trade will require a certain amount of persistency and teamwork and this will be fuelled by motivation, which in turn is fuelled by vision and rationale. In short a convincing vision and rationale is the foundation on which you can build a business that delivers sustainable growth. Really thinking about the question “Why Export?” will provide those foundations. I always suggest that a business tries to come up with at least ten reasons why they want to trade overseas. How many can you think of off the top of your head?
I said that the “Why Export?” question is undervalued – and building the foundations on which you build your sustainable export efforts is not the only value that you will get from challenging yourself further. By really identifying what export can deliver to you you can shape and steer the business to realise those things. For example, if you identify “seasonal offset” is one of your reasons for trading overseas then you can smooth out seasonal fluctuation by actively seeking territories where the weather is appropriate all year, if cashflow is a challenge in the business you can create an international business model where you get paid up front etc etc. In short, your reasons for export can form a highly effective basis on which you shape your international strategies.
Why not challenge yourself and see how many reasons you can think of for your business. If you want a bit of stimulation around your thinking then ExportSavvy can give you some pointers – in the resources section under checklists and guides, you will find “10 ways Export Can Benefit Your Business” If you are a registered user you can challenge your thinking and record your thoughts by completing the “Why Export ?” module.
Given that the answers to “Why Export?” will provide your primary motivators it is great to get everyone’s buy in – ask each of your team to draw their own conclusions by completing the “Why Export?” module and then compare notes.
In summary then – The simple and “obvious” Why Export? is a much more interesting question than you might at first give it credit for. Everyone has their own mix of reasons - there may be some that you have that others have not thought of – any ideas that you might want to share will be much appreciated and highly valued.