Advisory Program: Been There, Done That

International Business Advising Program

Been There, Done That. That’s the name of a new advisory program to help area companies expand their international business. It is being offered by The International Network (Northeast Ohio International Business Network), an organization of people engaged in international business.

Been There, Done That is a program that makes highly experienced senior business executives who are currently actively involved in international business available as advisors to Northeast Ohio businesses that want to expand internationally. There is no cost for this service.
Many strong, well run businesses in Northeast Ohio that could be marketing internationally are not doing so. As a result, they are missing out on the potential to increase their growth rate as well as improving employment opportunities here at home.

A key reason is that they do not have first-hand international business experience. Experience that can help guide success in unfamiliar foreign markets. Been There, Done That advisors can provide that experience.

“The knowledge and wisdom of our advisors is an underused resource,” according to Don Esarove, chairman of the Northeast Ohio International Business Network. “Each has years of executive level experience in international trade. Each is committed to helping other area businesses achieve the kind of success that they have enjoyed. They are exceedingly well qualified to act as advisors.”

Esarove also pointed out that, “The Been There, Done That program in no way conflicts with the many excellent international awareness and educational programs now available in Northeast Ohio. Nor does it replace any internal company staff or the paid services of consultants, lawyers, etc. so necessary for successful international business. Rather, it complements these existing resources by providing an experienced advisor to assist the leaders of the individual business with strategic guidance for its international growth.”

The requirements for an area business to receive a Been There, Done That advisor are simple. First, top management of the business must be committed to expanding internationally, and be prepared to support that commitment with appropriate resources. Second, apply to Been There, Done That. This can be done online on this web page (see below). That would be followed by a personal interview.

Some Possible Scenarios

Each Been There, Done That advising engagement will likely be quite different. Following are several hypothetical scenarios in which a Been There, Done That advisor could be of assistance.

Scenario 1: Global Purchasing Manager

  • Feeling customer pressure to reduce costs further, my CEO says to explore Vietnam and India as possible sources. Who can provide referrals? Who has experience with logistics infrastructure in each location?
  • We’re currently sourcing in China through a broker, but thinking of going direct. What should I consider before establishing our own sourcing operation there?

Scenario 2: VP of Sales and Marketing

  • My software company is looking for market intelligence on competitors in 3 Asian countries, and names of potential resellers. Where can I get that?
  • Who can make an introduction to the Brazilian government to discuss a government supply contract?

Scenario 3: CEO

  • I am evaluating a strategic marketing partnership in Central/Eastern Europe. I have been burned once, and I need an experienced entity to conduct due diligence. Who has that capability? And how reliable are they?
  • Is there an advantage to a Foreign Trade Zone?

Scenario 4: VP of Human Services

  • The CEO wants a plan to reduce turnover in our Mexican operation.
  • Our biggest customer is requiring adherence to strict worker safety regulations applied globally. How can we implement safety procedures uniformly?
  • We must resolve a labor dispute in our German factory before triggering delivery delay penalties from our aerospace customer. Who can help me?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Been There, Done That?

A program in which advisors who are highly experienced and currently active in international business advise senior managers of Northeastern Ohio businesses on their international growth strategies and initiatives.

Why such a program?

Even though this area has world class resources to support international business, many area companies which are capable of marketing internationally are not maximizing their opportunities outside the US. A key reason for this is the lack of experience in international trade. Been There, Done That is designed to provide the needed experience.

Who can qualify to be a advisor?

The Northeast Ohio International Business Network maintains a database of highly experienced international business executives. Each has specific qualifications by industry sector, geographic experience and special capabilities. Each has chosen to participate in this program. Any Network member with appropriate qualifications can be an advisor.

Who can receive an advisor?

Any Northeast Ohio business that offers products or services that can be marketed internationally, is committed to expanding internationally and is prepared to back that commitment with appropriate resources can apply for a advisor.

What does it cost?

Been There, Done That advisors serve without pay. Their only reward is to see the companies they are advising grow internationally. Thus, they expect to have regular, continued dialog with policy making management of their client companies. And to advise on appropriate international decisions.

Do Been There, Done That advisors replace existing resources?

Absolutely not. Their role is to be an advisor to senior company management. They do not perform any task services. So a client company may want to have appropriate internal staff. And may also need outside paid services from consultants, lawyers, etc.

Does Been There, Done That compete with any existing programs?

Absolutely not. To the best of our knowledge, there are no other international business advising programs in this area. Northeast Ohio has a myriad of excellent sources of information on international business as well as international awareness and educational programs. Been There, Done That supports and complements those activities.

How long is an advisor engaged with a company?

That depends. The engagement can last as long as both the advisor and the company feel it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Neither is required to make a long-term commitment at the outset. Ultimately, the durability of the relationship is driven by the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

Can the advisor sell services to the client company?

Generally not. Advisors may not accept compensation from a Been There, Done That engagement without the expressed approval of the board of the Northeast Ohio International Business Network. And approval would only be granted if the client company specifically requested, with the concurrence of the advisor, that the scope of the advisor’s role be dramatically expanded.

Application Form

Please use the following online form to request a advisor through the Been There, Done That program.
(Fields marked with * are required to submit form.)

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