This was originally posted in 2013 under Expertexporter’s wordpress blog.
I recently met a businesswoman who is working hard to take her business overseas and she told me ‘Exporting is great, I really love it’. Having worked in international trade myself for 27 years, it’s wonderful to see other women catch the ‘exporting bug’ and make a success of taking their business global.
This conversation also got me thinking about women and international trade and I realised that females generally have many of the soft skills required to go global.
Although us ladies are well known for being talkative, we can also be very good listeners. This is a great skill to have when working with overseas clients, as it is fairly likely that the other party will not be communicating in their mother tongue. Without a doubt, there will be occasions during business meetings when the conversation does not flow as smoothly as you would like. However, if you are tuned in and listening well, you should be able to overcome these language issues.
Women are generally quite good at picking up on little signs and changing their behaviour accordingly which is a great skill to have when doing business across cultures. Lack of awareness when dealing with other cultures has caused many a promising business relationship to die a sudden death. It’s important to be aware of and respect these cultural differences if you want your business relationship to thrive.
I attended an exhibition in Saudi Arabia several years ago and had to comply with the local dress code. This meant wearing a black abaya and covering my hair with a scarf at all times. I found wearing a long garment really inconvenient and the outfit was not at all flattering, however if I had refused to comply with local custom, it would have placed me and my colleagues in a difficult situation and caused great offence to our hosts.
Passion and creativity
Ladies who have invested a lot of time and effort in starting up their business are frequently incredibly passionate about it. Potential clients pick up on this passion and take a deeper interest in the business you are promoting. A business owner who believes in her product will not be put off by the obstacles of international trade and will naturally seek out creative ways to reach a wider global audience.
Attention to detail
Exporting is without a doubt more complex than domestic trade and requires a lot of attention to detail. It’s a sector where ladies can give their fantastic organisational skills free rein. Sloppy paperwork and processes have no place in a business that is trading internationally; they will only cause heartache and can even lead to financial ruin. So organise and plan to your heart’s content.
This is a good time for women to think global. More and more women are starting up businesses and international travel is commonplace. Technology is developing at a rapid pace allowing us to reach out to the world whilst enabling us to keep in touch with our world back home.
Exporting is crucial to the UK’s economic recovery and women can and should play a key role in this. Ladies, your country needs you. So what are you waiting for? Come on Girls, Go Global!