In my export development consultancy business I teach companies how to find customers or distributors in new markets. The business owners are always enthusiastic at first but then they tell me: it takes too long, I can’t continue do this search with all the things I have to do! The moral of the story is that I can bring the skills, however, once my involvement is done you risk reverting back to working in the usual way; inundated by the daily workload that always seems too much.

One of the problems is that in SMEs there are few human resources dedicated to commercial and marketing activities. Sometimes it is believed that using interns can make up for these shortcomings, but it is obvious that this cannot be a solution. So – what to do?

One tool that forces you to change the pace is the introduction of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Last year, four companies followed my advice and I found that they benefited from it. Especially when used with good training and then integrated with other functions: e-mail, sending newsletters, LinkedIn, etc.

When I hear about a short work week or working from home I feel like I’m on another planet. Yet this is the trend. In Germany, a business owner proposed a 5 hour workday, provided that the rules of conduct were respected. One that stands out was that mobile phones be turned off.

I would like to conclude with a reflection by Enzo Bianchi, founder of the monastic community of Bose: today, more than in the past, we live under the tyranny of time: but we can fight it and resist it if we give ourselves priorities in the things we have to do, if we know how to organize our time and, above all, if we refuse to “do a lot of things” and, first and foremost, try to live life.

If you are interested in deepening customer-distributor research abroad, you can read my book Exporting in 7 Steps