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August 2008 Newsletter

Lori's professional photo 2008 

What's been your biggest business challenge to date? 


Is it prospecting?  Closing sales? Networking?  

Working capital? Or

something else? 


I feel very comfortable and confidant when I'm operating in my areas of core competency, and I refer the other issues to a specialist who knows what I don't know .  But sometimes we don't know where to turn for those things we don't know how to do.  


One of the things I love to do is refer a person in need to a qualified professional who can fulfill that need.  In fact that's the crux of my business.  Feel free to call on me next time you get stuck.  I'd love to help or refer you to someone who can.    


This month's contributing authors provide us with useful tips for  manufacturing overseas with ease, and speaking publicly with confidence and ease.        





Wishing you all the best,



Lori Williams, President

Lori T. Williams PC

Your Legal Resource


In This Issue

Article 1: Ever Think About Manufacturing Overseas? Entrepreneurs: Don't Try This At Home!

Article 2: Do You Run Away From Public Speaking?


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"Do the thing we fear, and death of fear is certain. "
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)


"You must break out of your current comfort zone and become comfortable with the unfamiliar and the unknown."

(Denis Waitley)  


"The noblest search is the search
for excellence."
(Lyndon B. Johnson)







Ever Think About Manufacturing Overseas?

Entrepreneurs:  Don't Try This At Home!


      Denise Mahnick's photo          By: Denise Mahnick, Owner 3 Sixty Direct 



After nearly a year of design, development and manufacturing research, Vince opened his first product shipment from an overseas manufacturer. In that one defining moment his dream of a best-selling home decorating product all but disintegrated.
The product did not meet his design specifications. The hole in the center was too small, the dye used to color the pieces sloughed off at the slightest touch. The parts were completely unusable. The cost to return the shipment was beyond his budget, and the manufacturer beyond the reach of U.S. legal channels. How could a simple colored plastic piece with a hole drilled through the middle turn into such a financial and emotional disaster?
Overseas manufacturing has become the norm, but there's nothing "normal" about it in terms of locating and contracting with reputable facilities, handling issues long-distance, or dealing with international trade law compliance and logistics.  This article touches on only a few of the considerations involved in taking a product from the drawing board onto store shelves.
Sadly, Vince and many others like him learned a tough lesson - no matter how thorough you think you have been, overseas manufacturing is not a do-it-yourself project.
The Four Challenges
Finding facilities to manufacture a product in the U.S. is difficult - the industry continues to shrink in the face of global competition and generally rates are three times that of its overseas counterparts. Entrepreneurs and corporations alike see the economic logic of working with overseas manufacturers, but are often caught in a web of challenges that, if not handled properly from the beginning, land them in the same global quicksand as Vince. Four of the major challenges are:
        Locating reputable manufacturing facilities
        Quality and Inspection control
        Differing time zone, languages, and business cultures
        Laws, regulations, and coding for shipping and importing
Locating Reputable Manufacturing Facilities
We've all become accustomed to searching the internet for a particular product or service, and have reasonable faith that we're dealing with qualified people in our domestic purchases, whether it's from a local store or one twelve states away. But, shopping for an overseas manufacturer is different than locating the distributor of a particular widget. In the years that my company - 3SixtyDirect - has been helping entrepreneurs bring their product ideas to life and to market, we've found wide variances in manufacturing capabilities among overseas companies that purport to be comparable - variances in quality, ethical practices, and prices. Fortunately, our research and experience has allowed us to develop long-term relationships with the most reliable product manufacturers in Asia, and given us insight into the barriers entrepreneurs face.
When seeking out overseas manufacturers, make "Buyer Beware" your mantra. Here in America manufacturers are required to meet certain ethical standards, such as compliance with product safety, product quality, and child or prison labor laws. But many foreign countries have built their industrial bases on practices quite different than those in this country, and knowing what those practices are could impact your ability to bring your product into the U.S. once its been manufactured. 3SixtyDirect hires outside agencies to inspect any overseas manufacturing facility we consider contracting with to ensure that their ethical and practical policies, including their production and management abilities, are in line with U.S. regulations and standard business practices.
Quality and Inspection Control
Once you are satisfied that your manufacturing choice is ethical and qualified to produce the type of product you have developed, insist on materials testing, pre-production and pre-shipment samples - and don't approve full production until you are completely satisfied.  3SixtyDirect requires that all materials be tested and approved before manufacturing begins, and has established relationships with independent testing laboratories throughout Asia for this purpose.
The last thing you want to learn is that your product is colored with lead-based paints, or molded from a banned material. Vince's product wasn't in danger of a massive recall and PR nightmare, but that too-small hole discovered too late was his financial ruin.
Differing Time Zones, Languages, and Business Cultures
While the Internet and email have made it simple to interact with anyone anywhere in the world anytime you want to, it can't guarantee the effectiveness of the communication.  We've all had the experience of call center workers who "speak English" but don't understand the nuances of our every-day language, and the difference it can make in resolving or compounding our particular issue.  What we trust as standard business practice in Michigan, California or Oregon is not necessarily the norm in Thailand, Sri Lanka or Taiwan. 
Your understanding of the local language and culture can make or break your deal, and have a huge impact on the quality - and even the dimensions and materials - of your product. If you are not well versed in the language and business culture of the overseas facility with which you are contracting, consider working with an intermediary who understands the nuances of both sides.
Laws, Regulations, and Coding for Importing
International Free Trade laws are modified frequently. Just as carbon emission laws vary from one state to another, some products or materials that are legal in one state may be banned or monitored in another. No matter what foreign country you turn to for manufacturing, you will have to work with customs brokers, adhere to U.S. customs protocols, pay duties and custom entry fees, and manage the logistics of having your product shipped to their final destination. 
How your products are shipped - whether they come by boat or airplane, and how many other countries they may travel through before they reach you - has a huge impact on the cost and timing of your deliveries, but there are many other factors involved. Customs coding, shipping methods and even the port of entry choice is a confusing part of the process. Make sure you or your representatives are well versed in the options. 
Beyond the Specifics
People like Vince tend to be visionaries - inventive people with the drive and guts to step outside of the ordinary, see potential, and do what it takes to give their vision reality. Without them, we wouldn't have light bulbs, airplanes, air conditioning or computers. But the nuts-and-bolts of taking a product from the drawing board to the mail-order catalogue or big-box store is not a visionary, do-it-yourself venture.  We see the reality of that statement every day at 3SixtyDirect, and have developed a process that allows entrepreneurs to generate more and better ideas, and leave the logistics and details to us.
Entrepreneurs come to us with a product concept or rough sketches, and ask for assistance or guidance in bringing their visions to reality. They ask us to help determine and locate the most appropriate raw materials, and find qualified, cost-efficient manufacturing facilities. We work with them as consultants, making design suggestions, developing production specifications and artist renderings, researching tooling costs and manufacturing options, interacting with foreign agencies, and manage the shipping process. 

Denise Mahnick is the owner of 3SixtyDirect, located in Troy, Michigan.  Denise is passionate about entrepreneurship, loves the creation process and helping people bring their products into reality - ultimately making the world a better place.  She has 17 years experience in marketing and promotions, and is a Certified Advertising Specialist. In 2006, the Michigan Women's Business Council named Denise and 3SixtyDirect the "Women Business Enterprise of the Year." For more information, visit  her website at: www.3sixtydirect.com.


Do You Run Away From Public Speaking


 Donna Marie's photo                      

By: Donna Marie, Confidante' and Consultant

     Physical exercise is one means to release stress from our lives. During exercise, the body releases chemical substances (endorphins) that are similar to opiates. These natural substances produced by our own bodies are free of side effects. They also make us feel good. 


     But how does one release stress and feel good about speaking in front of groups?  Initially, it is best to understand some of the underlying causes of public speaking stress.  They differ for everyone yet there is a common denominator for many; that speaking in front of groups can trigger uncomfortable emotions from previous experiences.
     For example, think about a time as a youth in school and raising your hand to speak or answer a question only to receive ridicule, laughter or perhaps harsh feedback.  These typical events cause reluctance to not want to "speak up" and contribute later during classroom, life and work environments.
     This uncomfortable memory is filed away (usually into our subconscious) and th e same feeling state associated with the event in also filed away with it. Then the anxiety peaks its head at the very thought of speaking in front of groups.  Panic and a crippling nervousness may also be felt. The stress can start at the very thought of having to speak, or when planning the talk, and when delivering the talk.  Additionally, it can continue several minutes after the talk as the body is de-stressing from the actual feeling state experience.
     It is usually the feeling state, that is, stress and anxiety, etc., that is triggered that causes many people to avoid speaking situations at all costs.  Some say they would rather "die" than speak in front of a group.  Some careers have not flourished because of the fear of moving into positions that require presentations to clients, staff or coworkers, etc.  Additionally, these fears can also surface when asked to deliver a toast at a wedding, a eulogy, or when asked to share a simple prayer at meal time.  It is the "feeling state" that is immobilizing and the state that one wants to avoid.
    So what can be done? Practice of course is always beneficial to assist with speaking fears.  Yet to get emotional relief, requires understanding the emotional intelligence associated with ones feeling state.  Once this is identified and "released" the anxiety and fear dissipates.  It is a skill that can be learned. The anxiety and nervousness lessens noticeably and ones speaking comfort and confidence increases naturally.  


Donna Marie is a consultant and confidante located in Northville, MI.  She guides others to recognize Emotional Intelligence and Communication in public speaking situations and presenting oneself in professional and personal situations.  Donna's workshop "Speak EZ in Front of Groups" has won rave reviews for its effective and simplistic approach to quickly reduce speaking anxiety.  Donna is a member of the National Speakers Association and has her master's degree in Psychology. Her website is www.DonnaMarieConsulting.com and she can be reached at 734-420-2935.  



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