Strategic plans seems to have a way of developing a mind of their own.  Put another way, once you have a clear goal, it seems the world conspires to help you. Similar to when you buy a car and all of the sudden you see “your” car everywhere, so it is that when you focus on the opportunities you are seeking…pretty soon everywhere you look, you see more opportunities!  The fun part is that when you speak to others and share your goals, they too “see it” and many times they know someone that can help you.  Ask me about my Brazilian “taxi” driver…who has turned into much more…a true entrepreneur.

Keep your eye on the ball!

The key to having a strategic plan, is that it helps you focus on the goal, and not on the obstacles.  Example – this last trip to Brazil I received a “no foreign fee” credit card a week before I left; the pin hadn’t had time to arrive, but I wasn’t concerned as I didn’t need it (so I thought). I also carry an ATM card “just in case” I need cash.  Well, turns out my ATM card had expired (yes, that is now on my travel checklist). If you ever travel internationall you know that the unexpected seems to happen frequently (i.e. I missed my return flight out of Rio due to a 4.5 hour traffic delay on the way to the airport – can you say “change fee”?).

Anyway, my husband called the credit card company and asked if he could get a pin for the card, which he knew they typically only do by mail for security reasons.  He explained the situation and lo and behold, they allowed him to request a specific pin number over the phone. (Talk about great customer service – ask us who!). The point of this story is that you don’t know if something can or can’t be done until you try; instead of assuming it couldn’t be done, he just tried.  It’s a good thing as I turned out I needed more cash 😉

Back to Brazil

During our International Brokering  in Brazil, we have learned that while our focus is on individual businesses,  it is also required to have government sponsorship/endorsement.  This doesn’t mean that they commit funds (unfortunately), but unless they endorse you and introduce you to other key players (ministers and secretaries) business just won’t happen.  Any municipality you want to do business in has a mayor, each state has a governor, congressmen and senators are at the federal and state levels just like in the US. There are ministries (transportation, housing, education, etc.) and unless you can gain an audience with them and get their buy in, you just won’t be conducting business in Brazil.  Our strategic plan made all of these key players targets. Did we know “how” we were going to meet them? No…but if you focus on the obstacles you forget the goal.  You don’t make a strategic plan with what you “can” do in mind, but what needs to be done…big difference. With the work we have done over the last almost 3 years and the fact that there is an election year in 2012 for Brazil, we now are at the point where we are being contacted, both by local businesses in Brazil, as well as government officials, as all want to bring business to their constituents, especially during an election year.  Sound familiar?

For this trip we had 4 appointments prior to leaving the US.  During the trip, due to media coverage, we had an additional 8 pop up meetings.  It is difficult to get Brazil to commit to meetings unless you are there. Some “pop up” meeting began simply as dinner with a friend, who happened to invite the local mayor of her municipality.  Of course conversation drifted to what I was doing in Brazil and quickly new opportunities were identified.  We had the office of the Governor of Brazil contact us because they had heard of the business we were conducting in Rio via local mayors. Thus we had a meeting with the Vice Governor for the State of Rio, not originally, but certainly on the strategic plan.  The point of all this is that you lay out your strategic plan outlining all of the things that you know will be critical to  success.  You “don’t” outline the obstacles, (chances are you don’t even know them all). As you keep your focus on your goals, amazing things happen, you mention what you are doing and it turns out that person can’t help you, but they know a person who can. When I originally began this journey, I didn’t know all the challenges involved, but I did know I had to learn Brazil’s business culture/customs and how they work with US companies. This took an investment of two trips to Brazil specifically for research.

In the beginning everyone told me how difficult conducting business in Brazil would be.   The funny part is that as I continued to conduct research, the most common comments I heard from the Brazilians is that they were impressed with our commitment.  They said many dip their toes in the water, but few show the commitment to return.  It turns out business development is the same no matter where you do it.  People need to see you enough times to know you aren’t a “fly by night” organization.  When I went with the US Consulate to Rio in 2010 to learn the opportunities and how to conduct business, there were more than 150 of us.  I’ve kept in contact with the people who were responsible for the trip and they have indicated that ours was one of a handful of companies that are still active in Brazil; the rest surrendered once they understood all the obstacles…they lost focus.

How is your focus? Do you have a strategic plan? Did you write it down with a timetable?  Is it realistic (i.e. does it have lots of obstacles, things that you have never done before, that you don’t know how you do, people you need to connect with that you have no idea how it will happen?) If you do, good for you!  If you don’t and could use some help in developing one, give us a call…you’ll be glad you did!

Brazil is still looking for new systems and technology as they are showcased on the World Stage – if you have a unique building system or product that is cost effective, efficient and proven, contact me. By teaming with DAVNA you will have a  huge head start on your competition!

DAVNA Enterprises, LLC is a marketing solutions firm dedicated to the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC), Transportation and Technology industries to improve the effectiveness of their marketing initiatives and keeping marketing professionals apprised of new and upcoming marketing tools and resources.

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