What unique qualities and characteristics does it take to become a successful exporter? To crack open a new overseas market? To become a top-notch international executive at a global conglomerate?
The answer is that it takes the same qualities to do any of these things. Successful exporters, international expansion artists, and global executives may vary in their temperament, personality, and experience, but in the ways that really count, they are more alike than different. What counts is their ability to venture out in the world and adapt as they go. I call it a global mindset. Let’s take a look at why it’s so important to develop this dynamic outlook.
I somewhat liken exporting to riding a roller coaster at an amusement park. You eagerly jump into the coaster car, fasten your seatbelt, and get ready for the exhilarating ride of your life. Exporting offers a similar experience. It’s an adventure that challenges every way you run a business.
So the first question I ask individuals who express interest in exporting is: Do you have the mindset and guts to ride it out? After we clarify what that means—dealing with the highs and lows of attempting to do business in far-off places that are hard to access quickly and impossible to understand culturally—we discuss what is really involved in preparing to export. It’s called doing your homework.
Examining the State of You: The Global Mindset
A global mindset starts with self-awareness, reflects an authentic openness to and engagement with the world, and employs a heightened awareness to the sensitivity of cross-cultural differences. Toss in an adventuresome spirit, adaptability, a solid educational background, core business competencies, and life experiences that preferably involve international travel, and you have a recipe for the ideal global thought leader. Capitalizing on these attributes is a powerful factor for developing a global mindset and achieving success in the export world.
Here’s my shortlist of twelve characteristics that I find work in the export marketplace. They are based on my own hands-on experiences and the observations of others who have achieved success crossing boundaries in the business world:
1. The ability to venture out in the world and adapt quickly
2. Being comfortable and confident in your own skin, along with having a heightened sensitivity to others
3. Carrying a high level of intelligence, including cultural and emotional
4. Enjoying living in different parts of the world and relishing learning a foreign language
5. Knowing how to bring out the best in people no matter where they are from
6. Getting things done with people who come from diverse backgrounds in any part of the world
7. Being curious, having a love of learning, and immersing oneself in foreign cultures
8. Being objective and open to people and the environment
9. Having enough flexibility to focus on serving and helping others
10. Possessing the ability to take something complex and simplify it
11. Confronting obstacles with optimism and a willingness to continue learning new ways of doing things
12. Being resilient—or having the ability to bounce back from even the most challenging of circumstances
You may not have all of these characteristics, and I am sure there are some I have overlooked, but if you have most of them you will be comfortable operating anywhere in the world and well on your way to success in exporting.
This article is adapted from “Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably” (http://www.ExportingGuide.com) by Laurel J. Delaney and recently published by Apress. Ms. Delaney's email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.