Tips from Experienced Business Women

Below, you will find great advice, practical tips and other essential knowledge from experienced women exporters, consultants, trade officials and helpful sources.

If you have advice on exporting to share, please contact us.


How to Sell to Sectors that will help your Business Soar

  • do your research and develop a strong strategy
  • identify potential customers, then be clear about the need you can fill
  • understand the industry’s cost structure, then price yourself accordingly
  • know your competition and articulate why your product or service is better
  • demonstrate the value you can offer
  • be prepared to do business on a global scale

Five Reasons to tap into the Trade Commissioner Service in Canada

  1. The services of the TCS are valuable and free. “We have hands-on knowledge that comes from helping thousands of companies each year tackle concrete problems and pursue opportunities in foreign markets.”

  2. Trade commissioners will help you evaluate your potential. “We will discuss your competition, entry strategies and your company’s HR capacity. We will look at your capacity to fill large orders and manage long-term growth.”

  3. Trade commissioners will identify risks and challenges you might encounter. “If you have a new opportunity in a challenging market, we will walk you through scenarios related to payment, taxation, visas and personal security.”

  4. They can fast-track your access to the TCS network of offices around the world. “We will introduce you to the right people. The more we know about you or your company, the better we can serve you. When our colleagues abroad come to us with a specific opportunity, if we know about you and you’re on our radar, we can connect you quickly to these opportunities.

  5. Services offered by the TCS are fully customized. “Our insights, carefully tailored to each individual company and its objectives, can help you develop and pursue your international business strategy and make key business decisions.”

Six Strategies for Success in Brazil, Russia, India and China

Are you developing your market-entry plan for Brazil, Russia, India or China? While each market has its own unique characteristics, your success in BRIC countries depends on six proven strategies gathered from trade commissioners and savvy business women.

  1. Get to know the market: Do your market research. Attend trade shows and other industry events to understand local needs and to make contacts. Learn about the culture first-hand and make sure it is the right fit for you. "You have to be willing to take that step and go to the market. No one will come to your door. Success is about making the trips and the right connections."
    – Hilda Kopff, President, Designcorp [Brazil]

  2. Find the right partner: It is important to have someone on the ground who knows the local market, customs and is well-connected. Take your time to select the right partner— and choose wisely. Be sure to agree to an exit clause in case your visions don’t mesh. Your partner is the most important decision you’ll make. "There is a great deal of foreign competition in these markets. You need a strong partner to navigate the challenges and to help you understand local sensitivities like price."
    – Olga Belkina, CEO, Knowledge Exchange International Centre [Russia]

  3. Commit for the long term: BRIC markets take time, money and energy to nurture. If you are serious about a country, make it an integral part of your commercial strategy. Expect to visit the market two to four times annually for three or more years to establish yourself. "Even with a local partner, you must visit the market and get to know your clients. Build a solid client base. It’s very expensive to maintain only one client in a market."
    – Andrea Feunekes, co-Founder and co-CEO, Remsoft [Brazil]

  4. Be flexible with your approach: The market penetration tactics that worked well for you in the U.S. or China may not work in India or Russia. Consider reviewing your business approach to match the market’s expectations and needs. If you’re not successful on your first attempt, consider going back later. "BRIC markets change rapidly. While you may not be right for India now, your product or concept could be just what the country needs a year or two down the road."
    – Marie-Michelle Poulin, Trade Commissioner in Mumbai [India]

  5. Build strong personal relationships: In all BRIC markets, relationship building is critical. India, China and Brazil, in particular, place a high value on doing business with people they know and trust. Get to know your contacts and join them for dinner or activities outside the boardroom, no matter how jet-lagged you might feel. "Family and family values are important in China. Chinese associates like to establish a close-knit relationship. Share pictures of your kids and talk about them."
    – Anne Waldes, CEO, Trade Link International [China]

  6. Work with the Trade Commissioner Service: The TCS can help Canadian companies succeed globally and lower costs of doing business in BRIC countries. Whether you’re looking to export, invest abroad or seek technology and research and development (R & D) partnerships, the TCS has on-the-ground teams to help you understand the risks and navigate the challenges. "Get in touch with our team. We have an extensive database of market contacts and the ability to open doors for you. We can give you information on projects and opportunities in business centers across the country."
    – Todd Barrett, Trade Commissioner [Sao Paulo, Brazil]


10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Pitch

When you meet a potential buyer for the first time, you may have as little as 60 seconds to get their attention. Having the perfect pitch is essential to making a good first impression. Take the time to craft your pitch with these 10 tips:

  1. Know your audience and how your product or service can meet its needs.
  2. Ask the buyer questions first, then customize your pitch.
  3. Sum up your product or service in a few sentences.
  4. Make your message memorable so the buyer will remember you.
  5. Distinguish what makes you stand out from the competition.
  6. Detail your value proposition by using examples to demonstrate why your product or service is superior.
  7. Design messages to leave a specific impression, such as, “this company is committed to quality and customer service.”
  8. Explain why your product or service can best meet the buyer’s needs
  9. Stay out of the weeds. Don’t delve too deeply into details.
  10. Follow up your perfect pitch with an email or phone call… often.

Seven Steps to Supplier Diversity Success

  1. Build your certification into your business plan. This should be a thoughtful, strategic exercise in which you identify the companies and governments with supplier diversity programs, target those you want to do business with and clearly lay out why they should do business with you.

  2. Integrate your certification into your marketing efforts. Review your marketing plan and tactics. Identify ways to highlight your certification and your interest in supplier diversity opportunities. Develop messaging and products to keep you top-of-mind with potential clients.

  3. Create an action plan and action it. It’s now time to develop your to-do list. Identify your action items in order of priority, establish deadlines and assign tasks to your team. Next, take action and track your progress.

  4. Register your interest and network. Many large organizations have supplier diversity websites. Register your interest to become a supplier and provide them with information about your business and what you can do for them. Get to know the procurement officers and stay in regular contact.

  5. Work closely with the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service. Trade commissioners in Canada and around the world have extensive networks and knowledge. Make the most of them. They can help identify opportunities, prepare you for your target markets and find qualified contacts.

  6. Identify opportunities for visibility. Every year, there are business matchmaking opportunities, along with supplier diversity fairs, in a vast range of industries. Spend the time and money to participate. Take part in trade missions and the annual Women’s Business Enterprise National Council conference. Nothing can replace face-to-face contact.

  7. Leverage your WEConnect Canada connections. Network with other certified women business owners and the WEConnect Canada team. Educate them about your products or services. After all, it's the best way to ensure that your name comes up when opportunities arise that fit your profile.

Connecting to Opportunities: Increase your Global Profile!

  • Promote credentials. Demonstrate that your firm employs competent, certified professionals
  • Become certified. Certification to a profession or quality standard may help your company to be taken seriously in a bidding process.
  • Partner with a well-known firm. Instant credibility can be achieved by partnering with a large well-known international firm.
  • Participate in trade events. Trade missions, trade shows and networking events create new contacts and build your profile.
  • Use the media. Write unsolicited articles that could be published in industry journals.
  • Offer free trials or guarantees. This will help alleviate doubts foreign buyers may have.
  • Compete for an award. Being nominated for, or winning, an award sends a positive message to potential clients.

10 Tips to Market Internationally

Our featured women exporters share this advice to catapult your business on the global stage:

  1. Ensure your website appeals to prospects globally

  2. Introduce yourself to Canada's trade commissioners at home and abroad

  3. Attend industry trade shows in other countries

  4. Network through business associations

  5. Establish alliances with international partners

  6. Use distributors in your target markets

  7. Play up the Canadian angle

  8. Consider TV shopping networks for customer product promotion

  9. Become a member of a trade association like OWIT and I.E. Canada

  10. Sign up for a trade mission at businesswomenintrade.gc.ca


How Trailblazers Practice Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

  • Make eco-friendly products
  • Practice fuel conservation
  • Ensure minimal packaging
  • Select business partners that share commitment to CSR
  • Integrate environmental consciousness into culture and operations
  • Participate in educational initiatives
  • Donate to charities and foundations that support the environment and other causes

Top Export Tips from Award-Winning Canadian Business Women

  1. Participate in trade missions. You’ll get market assistance from trade commissioners at Canada’s foreign posts, attend a related event that missions are often built around, and make great contacts.

  2. Become culturally savvy. Personal interaction is important, so take time to educate yourself on the nuances of other cultures.

  3. Find good partners in your target markets. This is really the trick, especially for small businesses. Ask your customers for referrals to those they trust.

  4. Focus on your strengths, not your gender. If you earn respect through delivery, gender does not come into play.

  5. Have patience and perseverance. Sometimes challenging initially, exporting can bring great rewards to your company and people.

  6. Join a trade organization. Membership in a global network like the Organization of Women in International Trade (www.owit.org) will help you develop contacts, educate yourself and keep up to date.