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The Retail Confectioners Association of Philadelphia and Global CIF, LLC has signed a three-year show management contract extension right before the opening of the 139th Philadelphia Candy, Gift, and Gourmet Show last week. Global CIF became the trade show management company for the association shows in May 2017 and will continue managing and expanding the two annual trade shows in January and September. The Retail Confectioners Association of Philadelphia was founded in 1918 for the purpose of sharing information and knowledge about candy making and retailing among Philadelphia area confectioners. Currently, they have over 300 active and associate members throughout the United States and Canada.

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Since 2013 Messe Stuttgart Inc. has been active in the USA with its US subsidiary and operates as trade show organizer. Since 2017, Messe Stuttgart Inc. has extended its lifestyle consumer theme and established a partnership with Projekt 20drei10 GmbH to organize the VaporFair and HookahFair in New York and an upcoming show in Miami, Florida in 2019. In 2018, Messe Stuttgart Inc. is supporting nGage Events with the Smart Building Envelope event – powered by R+T, world’s leading trade fair for roller shutters, doors/gates and sun protection systems. Messe Stuttgart Inc.’s Representative Business includes the US-exhibit registrations and customer services for the leading LMS brands: R+T, TV TecStyle Visions, AMB, LASYS, VISION, Interbad, Moulding Expo and elect!

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By Dirk Ebener | May 1, 2018

Our company, Global CIF, is approaching its 4th anniversary and it is a very good feeling to still be alive and kicking in this very fast and changing business world. I was super excited when I successfully passed the “365 days in business” hurdle in 2015. There are plenty of stories, and people telling entrepreneurs who pay a lot of money to hear the message, that the “365 days in business” is the first indicator of how your business life will go.

We passed the test and I quietly celebrated with a cupcake and cup of coffee on Day 366.

The next milestone was the “Magic Three-Year Milestone.” This time, comments coming my way were: “Congratulations. You made it this far without turning the lights off and locking the door like so many other small business owners.”

I have news for you! Yes, I am still in business and who cares about what the rest of the business world thinks. The last time I checked, I am the one who is driving my business and will face the consequences if I mess up. Move on people. Focus on your stuff.

I read, watch, and listen to Gary Vaynerchuk. My wife, my daughter, and business friends will tell you that I am way too focused on his messages and comments. Yes, I listen to him a lot and take his comments and advice to my entrepreneurship heart. Read about him and his story and you will understand why I like his message!

In my office there are two photo canvases with quotes from Gary. They are right there in front of me all day long. One says, “WORK — that’s how you get it.” He is 100% right! The second canvas says, “Fear Kills Growth.” Gary is right again.

We are moving towards the 4th anniversary of my company. We continue to grow. I am looking for controlled and focused growth. The entire team is working very hard to make sure that we are keeping our current clients. Our commitment to existing business clients will allow us to continue our growth. You need to take care of the business you have before going for more.

Here are some of the lessons that I have learned. I hope they will help you to stay focused on your vision and business goals:

  1. Vision and commitment. No matter what business you are in or want to start, make sure that you keep your vision and commitment strong.
  2. Know your numbers.You will go out of business if you don’t know your numbers. You hear and see it on Shark Tank all the time. No matter how busy you are, look at your financials.
  3. Team effort. There are only 24 hours in a day and realistically 5 to 6 business days a week. Involve your team! Share your vision and allow them to contribute and buy into your vision.
  4. Outsource your weaknesses. Don’t spend your time on things you don’t like and are not good at. It is a waste of your time and is way too frustrating. Focus on your strengths and move on.
  5. Build a strong network.It is not weakness to ask for help and advice. People will not be able to help you and guide you if you don’t talk about it.
  6. It will be a very lonely road out there. Find a mentor who knows the business you are in. How can a mentor guide you if he never walked the walk? Be selective and take your time to connect with a mentor. A good mentor will hold you accountable and want you to succeed.
  7. Be a Giver. Way too many people want your advice and help and are not willing to give back. Don’t worry about getting something in return. Give anyway!
  8. Stay focused. It is your business. Don’t get distracted by what others are doing or thinking. At the end of the day it is your responsibility to keep the doors open.
  9. Get a manageable CRM system. I made the mistake of choosing a CRM system that was way too complicated for my small business. I have finally found one that works for me and is fun to work with. By the way, I am working with Nutshell.
  10. Ask for feedback. Engage with customers early and often and learn as much as possible in order to ensure you are delivering a great experience that customers value.
  11. Don’t be shy and change when change is needed. Willingness to change is vital in order to save you time and money in the long run.
  12. Social Media is a very effective marketing tool. You don’t’ have to be an expert on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Take some time and study your competitors and see what they are up to. Remember; outsourcing is ok!
  13. Leadership is what your team is looking for. You are the leader and your team is expecting you to lead. Greet everybody in the morning, interact during the day, limit the time of a meeting to the very minimum, and send them off with a smile at the end of the day.
  14. Take some “Me Time.” It is important to stay healthy and focused. Turn off the switch every now and then and enjoy your life. It is your day and time. Work on your life balance.
  15. Have fun! Have fun and enjoy the opportunity of starting a business. Good luck!

These are just some of the many lessons I have learned. Share yours with other entrepreneurs and business owners. Remember, be a Giver!

Dirk Ebener


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Entrepreneurs who are spending a lot of time exploring and creating a vision for domestic markets might be overlooking or shying away from important opportunities in the global marketplace. This might be due to worries about how to interact with people in unfamiliar cultures and business environments.

Successful business leaders, when they step out of their comfort zone, are learning important lessons from international travel. It teaches them how to effectively communicate and do business with entrepreneurs and executives in other countries. They learn to listen carefully and ask questions to make sure that they fully understand the message. As a result, they start to develop an important sensitivity when communicating with others, which makes it easier to dive into the local culture and customs.

Stepping into an often unknown culture, entrepreneurs begin learning some important lessons, including how to:

  • Adapt to different business hours, which are definitely not the typical 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.;
  • Cope with offices in buildings without air conditioning;
  • Get used to different time zones;
  • Overcome jet lag; and
  • Listen to and speak a different language 24/7.

All of a sudden, you have to adapt to an unknown and often uncomfortable environment. You will immediately understand that it is important to be flexible and learn to improvise to make it through the day.

Communication is king! The need to understand and present the right body language is essential when meeting and negotiating with potential and existing customers. You need to overcome the language barrier and learn very quickly that making the right first and second impressions are as important as a spoken or written word. It will be important to find creative ways to overcome these challenges.

Time management and cultural awareness are important! You have to adjust your travel habits depending on the country you travel to and its culture. In some parts of the world, it is more acceptable to be late for a meeting. So, don’t get upset when your future business partner shows up late and does not even mention it.

Expect to participate in late night dinners and social events frequently during the week. Closing business deals at 1:00 AM has happened to me more than once. In Asia, it is perfectly acceptable to meet for breakfast at 8:00 am following a late night of eating spicy foods and several hours of karaoke.

There are a lot of international business opportunities out there. You will be successful if you keep an open mind and are willing to make mistakes, correct them, and have the patience to step outside the box.

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International markets offer plenty of opportunities to expand and positioning your products and services in a global marketplace. It is very important that your company is providing your sales and marketing team with the right tools to do business in these markets. Coaching your teams will help them to be business and culturally sensitive, and often avoiding a serious faux pas that will end that hard earned business relationship right then and there.

Here are some tips you should communicate and implement when looking at new market. By the way, these intercultural tips and comments definitely apply to the domestic markets as well. 

  • Make sure that you are serious about your commitment and presenting yourself accordingly. The business world will not appreciate your lack of being serious.
  • The best way to gain and win respect is through your accomplishments and actual results. In many cultures, the title is the initial door opener, and after you are “in” you need to show what you are all about.
  • It is critical that you are on time for meetings. If you are running late, you need to call and provide timely updates about your time of arrival. About every 15 minutes is adequate.
  • Business values and procedures in your country are not necessarily the same in the country of your international business contact. Educate yourself about their country specific business values prior to meeting.
  • You are invited to a business function or dinner. Now what? How do you handle the menu and when do you order? When it gets to when to place your order, just wait until you see what your hosts has ordered. Then stay one price level below their meal. Don’t order the steak when they go for the salad.
  • Depending on the country you will do business in, it is always wise to stay away from drinking alcohol. When your host or business partner order drinks, it is ok to order one too. Stay with one drink for the night. You might be in situation where they are testing your social behaviors. Stay under the radar.
  • Business cards and correct networking skills will start a lot of valuable conversations. Have plenty of business cards with you. It will be helpful to understand the “business card” customs of the country.
  • By the way; a business card has two sides. You should use the back of the business card as well.
  • In many countries it is not acceptable for you to be on a “first name” basis with clients. You need to understand the appropriate approach. It is always wise to be very respectful and take a careful approach. Learning about the corporate hierarchy is critical.
  • In many cultures it is important to pay a lot of attention to the title of your counterparts and their management. Pay close attention to their internal interaction. This will help you to understand their corporate structure and who is who.
  • When you meet with clients from around the world, there will be different ways of learning about each other. Do not be surprised or offended when the questions seem to be rather personal.
  • Make sure that you ask about the dress code for meetings and business events. There are cultural differences you need to be aware of and take into consideration. It is always better to overdress.

There are plenty of resources available for your company to ensure that your team and management is prepared for the step in the global marketplace.

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There are thousands of trade shows, industry conferences, and specialty events around the globe. Trade shows are by far the leading marketplace when it comes to introducing products and services to a global business audience. Buyers from all around the world are spending their hard-earned Euros, Dollars, etc to create new business opportunities and making on-site purchasing decisions. It is your responsibility to reach out to these business leads and bring them to your trade show booth.

It is important that your trade show team and management discuss the following questions to ensure a successful trade show strategy.

  • How will you integrate the trade show with your corporate business plan and marketing activities?
  • Why would domestic and international buyers purchase your products and services?
  • How can you create traffic to your booth and what how can social media support pre-show marketing?
  • Do you understand the demographics of the trade show?
  • Have you clearly identified your buyers?
  • How can you identify and connect with various attendee groups?
  • Do you know other exhibitors who might be interested in creating sales opportunities with you?
  • Is your competition participating in trade shows and what is their approach and message?
  • Do you really know your competitors? Is your team aware of their business approach, strengths and weaknesses?
  • How will your team interact with domestic and international buyers who come to your booth? Are they prepared to communicate with them accordingly?
  • Is your team able to adjust to cross-cultural differences?
  • What are the results management is expecting from you and your team as a result of the trade show?
  • Who will be in charge of following up on leads and when will your team follow up?

There are plenty of resources for your company to ensure that your trade show is successful. You can connect with industry associations, trade show organizers, one of the departments of commerce, or trade show consulting companies like Global CIF.