We’re excited to kick off the 2024 Her CEO Journey Podcast series, focusing on a topic that aligns with the aspirations of mission-driven business owners like you.
If expanding your business is on the horizon, especially beyond borders, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) could be your ally. Sara Wilshaw, Chief Trade Commissioner at Global Affairs Canada, is dedicated to assisting Canadian entrepreneurs in scaling their local ventures into international success stories.
Sara Wilshaw’s Journey to Becoming Canada’s Chief Trade Commissioner
Sara’s story is relatable to many Canadians, rooted in the rich tapestry of immigrant heritage.
Her fascination with different cultures started early. When asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Sara confidently shared her dream of becoming a diplomat.
From that moment, her adventure began, taking her to the global stage. Starting as a student in exchange programs, she eventually found her way to the Foreign Service. Today, she proudly serves as Chief Trade Commissioner at Global Affairs Canada, a testament to her incredible journey.
What the Trade Commissioner Service Does to Support Businesses
While sticking to local markets might bring some quick wins, prosperity often lies beyond borders, as Sara emphasizes.
The TCS, under Sara’s guidance, plays a pivotal role in scouting global opportunities and pairing them with businesses ready to expand.
Its commitment doesn’t end with the initial introduction; the TCS provides four key services to catalyze your international business journey. It can help you:
- Prepare for international markets
- Assess your potential in specific markets
- Connect with qualified contacts
- Resolve business problems
These services might sound broad, but Sara’s team takes a hands-on, comprehensive approach. Working closely with business owners, they tailor strategies to navigate the international market successfully.
How to Partner with the Trade Commissioner Service
Embarking on the journey from local to international business as a Canadian entrepreneur may seem like a daunting task. Where does one even begin?
Sara simplifies it for you—it’s a two-way street. While the TCS may approach you if your potential aligns with its vision, you can also take the initiative by exploring the Trade Commissioner Service website.
With a commitment to working with diverse business types and entrepreneurs, and in addition to its four key services, the TCS offers multiple programs designed to expand your horizons. Applying is the first step—see where your business might fit into this exciting global landscape.
What to Expect from the Trade Commissioner Service
Curious about what the TCS can offer you? If your specific needs extend beyond its primary services, fear not. The TCS is well-connected and can point you in the right direction.
For instance, if you’re a woman entrepreneur seeking expertise in financial management, the TCS might refer you elsewhere, as it’s not their specialty. Alternatively, hiring a virtual CFO is also an excellent option for managing your finances effectively.
Entering the International Market with the Trade Commissioner Service
Questions like, “Is my business ready? Can my services thrive abroad? Am I prepared for the global market?” can be overwhelming. Sara Wilshaw acknowledges there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but making this decision doesn’t need to be complex.
According to Sara, commitment is key. Going international means adapting to diverse global dynamics. Sara emphasizes the importance of relationships in this journey.
Building, nurturing, and investing in connections is crucial before delving into international business. In essence, a steadfast commitment is the foundation for venturing into the global arena.
Going International: What to Think About
When gearing up for international markets, the TCS is your ally. Here’s what you should ponder:
- Distribution Channels:
- Do you prefer working with a distributor?
- Business Control:
- How much control do you wish to retain over your business?
- Structural Decisions:
- What business structure best aligns with your goals?
- Market-Entry Approach:
- What’s your preferred strategy for entering a new market?
- Understanding Your Offering:
- Define your service/product clearly.
- Target Demographic:
- Who and where is your target audience?
The better you comprehend your business, the smoother it becomes to identify an international market that suits you.
Additionally, the TCS can offer valuable insights and suggest potential markets you may not have considered.
Its expertise might even redirect your focus to a country where your product or service fits better, ensuring a more tailored and successful expansion.
Diversification and Inclusion
When we talk about “diversification,” it’s more than just reaching new locations. Sure, expanding to different markets is a part of it, but there’s a broader perspective.
Diversification extends to various aspects. It might involve introducing new products or services. Collaborating with another entity for co-development is another avenue.
Sara emphasizes that the TCS is here for that too. In her words, “We want to make sure that people are exploring all of the markets of potential for their businesses. And we want to help them to do that and keep on going to the next one — that diversification is important.”
Challenges Women-Owned Businesses Face When Going International
Women encounter diverse challenges in business, and this journey intensifies when expanding internationally. As Sara points out, “When it comes to the main challenges and obstacles, they’re the same challenges domestically as they are internationally”.
Issues like accessing business networks and juggling family and work persist. Yet, the global stage introduces unique hurdles, such as limited market knowledge and administrative obstacles. Sara emphasizes the need to address these challenges for a successful international venture.
Learn More About Sara Wilshaw
Sara Wilshaw is Canada’s Chief Trade Commissioner and an Assistant Deputy Minister at Global Affairs Canada. She is committed to and does her utmost to help Canadian entrepreneurs enter foreign markets by forging partnerships, finding opportunities, and solving the problems that Canadian businesses might encounter.
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If expanding your team is vital to realizing your company’s purpose, a CFO can help strategize your next moves. Schedule a discovery call with Profit Reimagined™ to fortify your business foundations and gain a deeper understanding of crucial financial concepts.