Liberian-born Cheryl Isaac reveals how women entrepreneurs can go global + the one thing women entrepreneurs can do each day to boost their business outlook
Cheryl Isaac knows a thing or two about international business. Born in the West African country of Liberia, Cheryl Issac lived through a civil war that rocked the country to its core. Despite scarce resources and in the middle of political and economic strife, people were starting businesses. The difficult circumstances lit the entrepreneur spark in Isaac that propels her in business today.
Now a highly sought after business strategist, writer and social media voice, Isaac said, “Business is all about creating and providing services. I saw people bootstrapping their business with whatever was available.”
The economic lessons she learned – the idea of taking nothing and making it into something – continues to inspire her long after her move to the U.S. as a teen.
Her Moxie Mix: Favorite Inspirational Quote?
“If your face is swollen from the severe beatings of life, smile and pretend to be a fat man.”
― Nigerian proverb
Recently, Time Magazine featured Isaac as one of “The 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2012” because she provides the perfect combination of business knowledge and personal anecdotes. The same holds true for her work as a business strategist and author. Moxie asked the “World with a View“ Forbes Woman columnist what three things she thinks American women need to know about international business?
1. Women entrepreneurs need to consider international business options.
Isaac cautioned women to let go of their preconceived notions about starting a business overseas.
“It scares people,” she said. ”That myth that you have to be a really big company [to go international]. It takes one step at a time.”
She advised women to begin with a culture that appeals to them and take tremendous care to examine the country’s way of life, their spending habits and even their business etiquette. One of the biggest mistakes U.S. businesses make is not knowing the customs of the country. Other big mistakes? Underestimating the people and not getting a local business consultant to help guide the paperwork process and cultural issues.
Isaac said international entrepreneurs should prepare to be “on the ground” in the country for at least a month to two months. They should also expect an intense paperwork process.
Her Moxie Mix: Tech/Gadget/App You Can’t Live Without?
Zite Magazine App. It personalizes content for your iPad.
2. Entrepreneurs should study business news from other countries.
Reading more about international businesses is an excellent opportunity to improve a stateside business, Isaac said.
“The more they [women] open their minds, the more they can broaden their views in their own business,” she said. “Spend 20 minutes out of a day reading about how its [business] is being done, find ideas, business partners…By keeping our eyes open we only make our business better.”
Her Moxie Mix: What are you reading?
I just finished The Memoirs of Cleopatra.
3. Women entrepreneurs should remember they are not alone.
The same barriers to entrepreneurship women in America experience – access to capital, training, opportunity, are the same barriers other women experience around the world. Isaac is studying how Chinese culture affects women entrepreneurs and recent efforts to remove barriers that affect them. She notes that societal opposition to women business owners increase the intensity of the barriers women in those areas must face.
For Isaac, it is all about continuing to help startups thrive, shopping her memoir of her childhood experiences in Liberia to agents and creating a startup exchange for girls in West Africa. Don’t miss her post “How to Push for Cash When You’re in the Service Business” featured on Women with Moxie Entrepreneurs. Also, stay tuned for a special Moxie sponsored LinkedIn chat with Cheryl.
For you, dear Moxie reader - don’t you have some research to do?
Share your story. Have you ever thought about taking your business international? What countries interest you?