“Every morning,” K-Tec Systems CEO Cathy Koch says, “I put on a bracelet that says: ‘She Believed She Could, and So She Did.’ I believe a woman must believe ‘she can’ from the day she opens her business.”
Koch’s U.S.-based K-Tec Systems manufactures and assembles custom-designed thermocouples and wire harnesses. For a long time, Cathy had wanted to grow her business globally, especially after learning from FedEx’s research that “96% of the world’s potential customers are outside of the USA.” Her first attempt, however, went sour; the customer didn’t pay, and exporting left a bad taste in her mouth.
The experience made Koch more determined than ever to master the export front. Enter Laurel Delaney, founder of the nonprofit Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global™ (wegg®). Delaney helped Cathy:
- Complete an export readiness test (https://www.export.gov/article?id=Assessment).
- Create a back-of-the-napkin export business plan. This brief plan can be as simple as explaining what the business does, what it wants to achieve by exporting, and how it expects to get there (who is going to be on board).
- Develop an Export Dream Team, including legal, finance, logistics, and tech experts.
- Explore the resources EXIM Bank offers to insure overseas receivables (https://www.exim.gov/get-started#elig).
- Master social media so K-Tec Systems can share its story, use photos to support its story, and be found easily by customers all over the world.
- Map out her export journey by deciding which markets to target and which products to export.
- Ensure the K-Tec Systems website accommodates international customers.
- Find customers by using the U.S. Department of Commerce/U.S. Commercial Service – International Market Search, International Partner Search and Gold Key Programs.
- Choose between a direct or indirect method of exporting.
- Determine if any licenses, certifications, or registrations are required for exporting.
- Manage the transaction, from shipping to fulfillment to getting paid. Cathy learned that FedEx offers training to walk her through the export process, from packaging to documentation compliance.
- Prepare a pro forma quotation to ensure she gets paid.
- Explore all resources, especially those that are free, such as the Small Business Administration https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/grow-your-business/export-products and International Trade Administration https://www.trade.gov. For more broad-based information on available services, see Export.gov and Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global https://www.womenentrepreneursgrowglobal.org.
Once Cathy carefully addressed each item on the above punch list, she became more confident with her company’s quest for borderless growth. Today, she is readier to export than ever before. K-Tec Systems currently conducts 15% of its business internationally and sells to more than four countries, including China, England, Germany and Mexico.
In celebration, wegg asked Cathy to share her export journey with other women business owners so they, too, can benefit. Listen to Cathy’s wegginar® (no charge): “She believed she could, and so she did.” One Woman’s Quest for Borderless Growth: https://womenentrepreneursgrowglobal.org/2019/06/10/she-believed-she-could-and-so-she-did-one-womans-quest-for-borderless-growthcathy-koch-president-ceo-k-tec-systems-july-10-2019/