Dear Trade Talk,
I’m always in a catch-22. I want to explore new markets and customers, but I have very little money to attend trade shows. Even when I do land a new contract, my bank can’t always extend my credit so I can fulfill the order. How do I help my business to grow?
Financing and cash flow crunches are common challenges. One solution is BDC’s Market Xpansion Loan, which provides up to $100,000 for activities such as participating in trade shows or developing an export plan.
As well, your bank may be able to loosen the purse strings if your contract has credit insurance. One EDC solution created especially for smaller companies is Single Buyer Insurance, in which you can easily and affordably insure sales to a single customer.
If your bank is willing to extend credit due to this mitigated risk, you can use the extra cash flow to connect with potential customers or even offer more favourable financing terms.
Dear Trade Talk,
I was delighted when my Italian customer invited me and several other business people to their home for dinner. Wanting to be a gracious guest, I brought along flowers for the hosts. Later, a colleague pulled me aside and told me the flowers I’d chosen—chrysanthemums—are reserved for funerals in Italy. I was mortified and would like to know how to prevent this from happening again.
Probably every Canadian company has at least one story of committing a faux pas. Still, understanding the local culture helps you build business relationships, and can help you strategize as well. For example, in some cultures your customer’s “maybe” actually means “no”, and “I’ll call you soon” may mean next month.
Fortunately, there are many great resources to help—such as the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, which has a wealth of market-related information at tradecommissioner.gc.ca.
Other valuable resources include:
www.executiveplanet.com: etiquette, negotiating tactics and business dress.
www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/country-profiles.html: etiquette, customs and protocol, downloadable to your mobile.
www.edc.ca/EN/Knowledge-Centre/Publications/Pages/default.aspx: EDC’s free Country Guides provide a good overview of etiquette and business practices.