I export marketing services. I started a few years back when I decided to expand Marketing Eye into new markets. The most suitable market after much research was America, so I did what any buddying entrepreneur would do and I completed a market research study to make sure that if I started a business there, it was not set up to fail.
The reality of international export

A mixture of gut instincts, business acumen, networks and of course a business model that no-one else had, gave us a head start. I also chose a city where the cost of setup was low, the Australian dollar was sitting pretty at $1.06 to every American dollar, and where few people knew who I was.

Low and behold, we became somewhat successful. I say that, given that in some ways its still a part time business. It's hard to run multiple cities let alone multiple countries as an entrepreneur who owns the business 100% themselves.

But I am doing it, and more than surviving - I'm thriving.

Travel is a killer. I tried to never complain in the first 3 years, but now I feel like I am one of those people who sees hopping on a plane as being the worse part of my day. But once there, I get back on track and relax ready to tackle my next adventure.

Exporting marketing services to the US market is easier than you think. You would be surprised just how good Australians are at most areas of marketing; excluding use of marketing technologies and inside sales.

The ladder two are areas that we fall short as a country and Marketing Eye relies very heavily on our US team for education and adoption of new and innovative technologies that are going to help our client's businesses as well as our own.

If you are thinking of exporting a product or service, think about this:
  • You have to give up a lot: your time is valuable and precious time with family and friends will never be replaced
  • You have to have a big dream and be prepared to give it your all
  • Market research is critical, otherwise you are literally throwing away money
  • If you don't have a budget for marketing, don't do it
  • Hiring the right people is the biggest issue you will face - hands down
  • When you are running a lean operation, if someone leaves its a nightmare, and you need to be prepared to hop on the next plane out
  • You don't have a life. You think you do, but you don't. Better still, all your friends think your life is so glamorous that even you start to think that any complaint you may have is just throwing their "boring lives" in their faces
  • It's painful. When there is bad news of any description, it hurts. Maybe that's being a woman, but gosh, sometimes I really think about whether I can take another set back. 
  • The success of your business depends on your people
  • You cannot be too soft, they will eat you alive
  • Culturally, American are different - and grits taste like crap
  • If everyone is walking one way, walk the other - if you are not brave enough to do this, competition is fierce
  • Work your ass off - and never complain that you are putting in more than anyone else. It's you who ultimately gets the reward.
I find this whole export equation hard work as a woman. I found sleeping pills a savour while I travelled to ensure that I didn't get jet lag and could work as many hours as possible. I wish I didn't. They have huge upside and allow you to work more, and hopefully get a good nights sleep, but they also make me moody, emotional and not my normal self.

Moody is something that has never been associated with me as a person. I am always thinking of the positive, yet when I have to travel internationally and I take a sleeping pill each night to sleep, I am definitely not my self.

But overall, if I didn't take this chance, and wasn't brave enough to do it myself, I would never have known whether I had the potential to grow a global company. Now I know for sure that not only do I have the capabilities, I can take it all the way.
Mellissah Smith is a serial entrepreneur and business leader with more than 20 years' experience in marketing.
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert, author, writer, public speaker and technology innovator. Having worked with more than 300 companies across technology, medical device, professional services, manufacturing, logistics, finance and health industries, Mellissah has a well-established reputation as an experienced marketing professional with more than 20 years experience. As the founder and managing director of Marketing Eye, she has taken the company from startup to a multi-million dollar enterprise with offices in Australia and the US. Mellissah is also the Editor in Chief of Marketing Eye Magazine, a quarterly magazine that cover marketing, entrepreneurship, travel, health and wellbeing. #mellissah #marketingeye

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