This catalog was supported in part by the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Fellowship a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the United States Department of State, implemented by IREX.

Making the most of your network

I just got back from a small, invite only event in Miami as part of my role as  WBENC Forum member. As I talked about last month, it was great to see people in person, many of whom I hadn’t seen in two years or more.

I also met a lot of new people and when I tell people what I do, I say, “I help certified business owners get bigger clients and more of them by leveraging their certifications.”

While business owners certainly get “bigger clients and more of them” the ins and outs of what I do takes, again, more explaining.  This is mainly because for some people making the most of their networks by building business development teams and processes comes naturally.

Breaking their successful journeys into steps doesn’t.

For others, getting new business feels overwhelming and something that happens outside of tips. In other words, you either have the personality to do it or you don’t. But, when you consider that business development is mostly about building meaningful relationships, that makes it more available to different types of personalities.

A story of one step

People ask me, “So, you just introduce me to potential buyers?” Yes, eventually, but before we do that I need to know – what buyers? For what purpose? What is the process that you have in place for follow up when they inevitable don’t get right back to you?

Even the biggest leaps to growing your business can be broken down into smaller steps. It’s just that describing them can be, well, boring.

(If you think you might need help with the right steps, take this quiz!)

For that reason, I offer a story about how one of my mentees, colleagues, and now friends

made big business development strides, starting with one step, when we won a grant together.

Connecting Artisans to International Buyers

In August, I wrote about working with Cathy Perugachi from Handmade LatAm and the grant we won to drive international connections for artisanal communities in Ecuador.  I’m proud to say that this month we have completed the grant with the launch of the Ecuador edition of the Artisanal Catalog for International Buyers.

For the first part of the year, Cathy and I worked on a business plan for her business. We did all the good start up stuff like ideating and making projections. When YLAI announced the grant, we realized that we could use it to test our theories.

What we could have done

We could have made the objective of the grant to Sell artisanal goods to a U.S. buyer. We probably could have found one, we would have made the artisanal communities a little money and had a “successful” grant.

But we would not have created the relationships, trust, and infrastructure to do that sustainably.

What we did instead

Cathy’s vision  for her company is a platform that connects smaller communities with larger brands. Her value add is streamlining the logistics and communication issues that often happen when larger companies seek out “authentic” artisanal products.

The grant did not provide for the creation of the entire platform but it did help Handmade LatAm achieve a key milestone in the plan.

Milestones and Benchmarks

12PointFive sponsored the project and provided curriculum for the artisans on pricing, margins, and sales.  The grant helped us provided the structure and connections that allowed the artisanal leaders to learn about best practices but also the tools to actually practice.

Through the grant the artisanal communities, priced their products, identified their margins, then worked with their customer, Handmade LatAm, to provide products according to client specs.

What I love about the end result is that there is a concrete and beautiful outcome in  the catalog.

What I love about the project is that it achieves a milestone in an emerging entrepreneur’s business that will have a multiplier effect on the communities in Ecuador that are preserving the culture and environment where they live.

I feel lucky and grateful to have been a part of what Cathy and the artisans have achieved so far. I look forward to their next steps.