No Hail Marys when businesses go global

I love this time of year in Tampa Bay. What’s not to love, right? The weather is perfect, there’s one holiday after another and, of course, there’s football three times a week.  4th quarter, 2 minute warning and down by only one point…these are just nail biters and time for “desperation” plays. The most famous nail-biter? The Hail Mary Pass, defined by Wikipedia as:

…a very long forward pass in American football, made in desperation with only a small chance of success, especially at or near the end of a half. The term became widespread after a December 28, 1975 NFL playoff game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach (a Roman Catholic) said about his game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Pearson, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”

Although included in every team’s playbook, the Hail Mary Pass is only used as a last resort – a “shot in the dark” if you will. To win football games, a team needs a strategy plan, an action plan and a thorough analysis of their competition. Not unlike business.

New-to-export businesses often refer to going global as a “shot in the dark” because of the vast opportunities in the world. A Hail Mary failure in the global market can be a very costly pass.

Taking the necessary steps to create and execute an international strategy provides the company with the best opportunities for growth. Here are just a few:

Export Readiness Assessment – Management needs to understand that an international strategy is long term and must be willing and able to dedicate time, resources, and an adequate budget to export activities. Management commitment is the number one determining factor of export success. Is your company export ready?

Build Your Team – It is important to create an “international culture” within the company and increase the level of expertise of each team player. Learning the language of international business is essential to the success of the plan. Here are a few options:  FSBDC at USF TrainingExport-U2 Webinars |

Export Marketing Plan – In other words, your roadmap to success. Developing the plan will require the efforts of the entire international team and will include all aspects of the international process such as: company, product and financial analysis, competition analysis, market research and market entry strategies. If this seems a little daunting, there is help available: FSBDC at USF Export Marketing Plan Services | SBA.gov Export Business Planner

A committed and solid team together with a well-written plan will put your company on the right path to success, eliminating the need for the Hail Mary Pass!. Always, always remember what Benjamin Franklin said. “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

  • Selma Canas

    NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP), Florida SBDC at USF, Tampa

    Specialties: International Trade, Export Marketing Plans, Market Research

    Selma Canas is responsible for guiding small businesses through the complexities of developing export marketing and international expansion plans and teaching seminars on basic international trade. She has developed more than 30 Export Marketing Plans during the past six years for local businesses, and participated in trade missions to Brazil, Chile, Canada, and the Dominican Republic. Canas has more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer service in a variety of industries, including freight forwarding, real estate and advertising. As a co-owner of Restaurant Guide USA, she increased sales and distribution points and tripled the size of the distributed product.

    As a real estate broker-owner, Canas carved a niche in the Latin American community and had a career sales volume of more than $37 million. Canas earned her bachelor degree in economics from the University of South Florida. She is a NASBITE Certified Global Business Professional and holds an Export and Trade Counseling Certification from the U.S. Small Business Association. Selma earned Florida SBDC at USF Employee of the Year honors in 2016. She is a member of Toastmasters international and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

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