Full confession: I have a difficult time running Otion, our retail location and still trying to keep Bramble Berry, our mail-order company, open and working smoothly. The two locations are literally 2 miles apart.
I spent most of this morning’s business meditation reading the Inc magazine (April 2007) issue from cover to cover about how to “Grab a Piece of the [Global] Action.” I was inspired! I should open up a Bramble Berry Europe! A Bramble Berry Dubai! A Bramble Berry Shanghai!
Then, reality set in. I can’t even manage a retail store 2 miles away with ease and grace. What makes me think I could manage an entire company a continent away!? Especially a company that works on razor edge thin margins and requires all my savvy (and a very smart and dedicated staff) to try and make a profit.
But then, ego, hubris and fear set in. I was aghast that I was missing out on all these global markets and worried about losing a potential first-mover advantage. Then again, if I opened another operation, I’d take my eye off the ball and the actual cash-producing companies I have here in the little hamlet of Bellingham, WA. And, as I’ve already admitted, I am fully challenged just trying to run the two operations on my own homefront.
Bramble Berry exports about 5% of it’s total Gross Sales overseas. That percent used to be higher when I had a full time International Shipping Manager so I know that there’s an international market out there and waiting for soapmaking to be introduced to them. The International Shipping position ended up losing money. International Orders, by virtue of their high loss, damage, chargeback rates and just plain extra hassle with paperwork, cost more to process. Add the extra wages from a shipping manager and the program didn’t make sense.
But, what if I opened up another company in Europe – say France – with one of my favorite customers there and offerred her a piece of the pie (provided she would put some skin in the game)?
It’s an interesting thought and one I’ll be thinking long and hard on in the next few months after. A global market …the world is flat a la Thomas Friedman … risk/reward… it’s good food for thought.