Two weeks ago, I received a phone call. It wasn’t just any phone call, but the type of call all entrepreneurs dread; the kind that could result in a big financial hit. The head buyer working for my biggest client was leaving. My natural instinct was to panic. I thought about having to work with a new buyer, adjusting to new processes, the creation of a new proposal and the possibility of additional competition.
As it turned out, however, the head buyer was instead promoted to head of marketing purchasing. This was fantastic news! This meant that we would have a better chance at reaching out to new markets and expanding our business. There was just one hiccup: We needed to have a US office in order to use the buyer’s services in North America.
Like every entrepreneur who loves a challenge, I stepped up to the plate. All of my company’s future international expansion projects went from “some point in the future” to right now! The only problem was I didn’t know where to start, who to talk to for advice or how to go about breaking into the American market.
I was a brand new EO member then, and I just so happened to be attending one of EO Toronto’s events the following day. Fortunately, our Chapter Chair was in attendance. I floated my question by her and she referred me to Beth, her counterpart in New York, USA. The next day, I e-mailed Beth asking for help during this tumultuous time. Within minutes, she forwarded my e-mail to her entire chapter. The subject line of her e-mail read: “EO Toronto Member Needs Your Expertise.”
In a matter of moments, I was overwhelmed with responses from EO members eager to help me out. I received encouraging suggestions, including: “Here’s my accountant, he’s great,” or “Get in touch with my lawyer, she’ll take care of you,” and “I’ve got the best banker!”
At the time, I didn’t have a clue about US taxes, foreign ownership issues, what to do about filings for the IRS— I knew absolutely nothing. Thankfully, the EO network had all of the answers I needed. With the assistance and encouragement of EO New York members, I founded An Opportunity Knocks USA, Inc., based in the Empire State Building. Because I put myself in my peers’ capable hands, my company’s US doors are wide open and the business has been pouring in.
Thank you to everyone who helped me out. I learned a lot from this process, but most importantly, I learned the true value of EO. An organization is only as good as its people, and the people in this organization are willing to help others in need, especially if they’re new to the EO scene.