Lessons Learned: Expect the Unexpected
Being a successful entrepreneur requires a lot of skill, determination and attention to detail. EO Orange County member Ricardo Ordonez learned the value of staying attentive at all times when his international business was hit with a major financial crisis.
The Problem: As an entrepreneur, I have to keep an eye on a lot of things. My company has been conducting business in China for more than 10 years, and whether it’s in America or overseas, tasks can slip through my fingers before I realize they’ve even hit the floor. I learned that the hard way. Our international business was going great until we encountered a big—and expensive—surprise. We were embezzled approximately US$250,000 by our plant manager. He lived in China for more than five years, and stole from us every chance he had.
The Solution: We thought we were saving money, but we trusted the wrong guy. As we learned more about the situation, we realized these errors resulted from our lack of attention. Now we visit our overseas facility monthly and conduct face-to-face goal-setting, problem-solving and performance-measuring meetings. Doing this can prevent future embezzlement. We also continue to build our relationship with our international management team. Their performance has increased, and so has our understanding of one another, our appreciation of mutual differences and our common goals.
The Lessons: Needless to say, the embezzlement really opened our eyes. Because we were focusing too much time and energy on domestic issues, we discovered our performance abroad had been deteriorating. We addressed these issues, garnered a better understanding of our international relations and made over-arching changes. Next time I get ready to conduct global business, I will make certain I’m as prepared as possible. That type of planning is priceless.