Jim Fitt, CEO of Velsoft Shares 5 Key Factors for Export Success
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
By Jim Fitt, CEO
In 2013, The Export Achievement Award for Exporter of the Year went to Velsoft, a leading provider of customizable training materials and educational technologies. This was a milestone for us. It was proof that our company based in rural Nova Scotia could successfully compete in a global market.
As founder of Velsoft, I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur and that New Glasgow was where I wanted to raise my family. After working in internet marketing in the mid-90s, I taught technology at the Nova Scotia School of Fisheries in Pictou. Realizing my love for both online technology and education developed into a business when Velsoft was founded in 1998.
Doing business in a rural community means no traffic jams, familiar faces and keeping the family together at home. The overhead of running a business is less than in a city and everything I need is at my fingertips, either locally or online. While the pool of potential employees is smaller, so is the competition. This means low turnover; keeping the right people in the job while developing their skills along with the company. Our close knit team includes people that have been with Velsoft since its inception.
But there are challenges. A smaller community means a smaller market. To be successful, Velsoft needed to get out in front of everyone who would find our product relevant and that’s what led us to expand into the global market.
To be export ready, you don’t need to be a large company, but you do need a competitive, marketable product. If that exists, do your research and create a business plan. This means knowing the regions where your product is competitive and marketable, the regulations that exist in those areas and the financial risk involved. There are also cultural, language and time differences to consider; you always have to be available to your customer base.
Take your online presence seriously. The internet and social media make it easier to connect globally, but only if these tools are correctly used. You need a user-friendly website and an effective online marketing strategy (with lots of original content). If you don’t have these skills, hire someone that does. It is well worth the investment.
Be patient. The research and relationships that you take the time to build will pay off in dividends. Find a mentor; take advantage of the expertise offered through organizations like NSBI. Find financial and legal guidance.
There is no such thing as failure, only things that don’t go according to plan. Learning from failure gracefully is one of the greatest skills a business owner can posses and this only comes from experience, unfortunately.
For Velsoft to be recognized by the business community for our hard work has been a measure of success that I had only dreamed of but for me success also means raising my family right here at home. Learning to be competitive outside of our borders has made it possible for me to do that.