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This morning we are hearing from the Chairman of the Board and President of the World Trade Center, Chicago Illinois; the third largest in our nation behind New York and Dallas.  How does your business look in the future – have you ever considered the international market?  This was really interesting…the biggest obstacle is, most US businesses are uneducated regarding international business, but there actually are some great opportunities.

1. Can you open up new markets internationally?  I worked with a small integrator in Guatemala earlier this year – they are doing business internationally, taking support contracts which are annuity based, to handle the third-party help desk for a major manufacturer here in the US, but doing it globally. This has tremendously grown their business.

2. Markets are growing in Brazil, China, India, and Russia…this can’t happen without trade partners.  The World Trade Center is the number three brand in the world, but few of us in the US understand what they do.  When companies like yours join the World Trade organization, they assess your company, help you research global market conditions, and then help generate leads for your organization.  You might think small companies can’t do this, but the fact is, you can.  Global markets want US product through a good supplier.

3. When I say products –  It can be services or products.  A bridge is created – linking companies like yours with companies coming into the US and needing US services to be successful.  This would include IT services and managed services.  The World Trade group then acts as a coach to assist you in setting up these relationships.

5. Web technology makes all of this possible even for tiny companies – so even the smallest companies can operate internationally.  My company has one person in it…me.  Over the past year I have worked in 6 countries and generated a third of my revenues internationally.

6. The WTC systems can track every product and service that changes hands internationally – they can track competition, partners, distributors, etc. to create a match or help you compete.  Trust is the key to building these relationships, so heading out on your own is probably not going to happen.  The WTC creates a hub for this network.

7. The WTC is membership driven, but not very expensive…it might be something to look into.  How will you continue to reinvent your business over the next 5 years?

© 2012, David Stelzl

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Over the weekend I met with (SMB) business leaders in Chicago to discuss principles of running a successful company.  My topics included Hiring Principles of Successful Companies and a session on Time Management.  We also heard from experts from the World Trade Center on setting up international trade relationships, methods of reducing company healthcare costs, establishing systems for success, negotiating skills, and a lot more.

A few points from my talk on hiring:

1. One of the best firing decisions I have ever made – a system engineer who thought that his skill set was so important that he could repeatedly show up for work late without excuse.  He told me our company would fail if we fired him since our current projects required his skills.  I let him go, hired a guy with half the experienced, and within a few months that new hire passed him in ability and went on to generate more profit for our company than any other engineer on the team at that time.

2. One of the biggest hiring mistakes I have ever witnessed (not in my company – but a close work associate), ended with that newly hired financial officer essentially taking over the company, selling it, and cutting the original owner out of the deal.  This guy was clever, experienced, and a professional criminal.  I shared with the attendees how it happened, and how to avoid it – bottom line, make sure you know who is managing your money.

3. One of the best hiring decisions I have ever made involved a school teacher looking to enter the IT consulting world.  He came on at an entry level salary – but eager to learn and happy to have a salary that exceeded his teaching income.  Within a short period of time he proved himself capable of taking over our support center, recreated the entire system including terms and conditions, SLAs, and pricing, and oversaw the entire operation.  Very patient with troubled clients, and doing well today, still working in this industry!  Of course his earning potential multipled quickly.

Hiring and firing – it’s not always obvious what to do, but it pays to learn how to identify great potential.  It also pays to look beyond a person’s current skill set.

© 2012, David Stelzl