It has been 10 years since I started working as a Temporary Export Manager (TEM) and offering consultancy on export issues. Italy was emerging from the 2008 crisis and exports were (and still are) the only way to revive sales. The idea that prompted me to take this path and offer small businesses in my area the skills to develop sales abroad was because these smaller companies could not afford to hire a full-time export manager.
In these past 10 years, I have worked with more than 50 companies, especially in the mechanical and furniture industries (despite my decades of experience in textiles!). The markets in which I have worked the most are Europe (especially Germany and Poland) and the Middle East (especially the United Arab Emirates). Here I found and initiated contacts with customers, distributors and agents. You will find references of some of the companies I have worked with at the bottom of my Linkedin profile.
Over the years, I have learned to use many digital tools that are essential when working in international markets (especially in times like those today). Tools like Statista and Export Planning, which allow me to accurately identify the markets with the highest potential (even in industries that are new to me). Or Sales Navigator that allows me to identify and then make my initial contact with potential customers.
The difficulties I encountered at the beginning were mainly twofold: 1) if you do not have a brand behind you, it is difficult to be credible when offering consultancy and, 2) many entrepreneurs wanted to work only at variable rates, as if I were an agent. However, if I have always found work it is because I owe a lot to the industrial associations of the area. Especially the Confindustria Vicenza (loosely, the local Italian Industrial Federation) and in particular the FarExport office. They put their trust in me and, together, we did a good job with the small and medium-sized businesses in the area. The first 2 assignments, however, I got thanks to a friend and to an ad on AdWords.
The experience also led me to develop an outstanding working method and good practices that, two years ago, I put down on paper in the book Exporting in 7 Steps. It is a method suitable for small businesses. Very “meat and potatoes”, but also useful for those who already export but who want to compare their method of working. In recent years I have also started to hold courses on these topics and with the lockdown only increasing the demand for (social) distance training.
I am satisfied with the path I have taken even if the professional satisfactions are greater than the economic ones. I like my job, it is not repetitive and I get to discover many great companies. Each company is a new challenge and this – despite my 62 years – helps keep me young… at least I hope so. 😉
Pier Paolo Galbusera