You may know that Export Navigator’s team of export advisors is knowledgeable in international business, but do you also know about the diversity of our team’s experiences? Our advisors come from many different backgrounds, which goes to show there is not just one linear path that leads to exporting.

Our “Meet the Advisor” series offers a glimpse into the journeys of our export advisors and how they got to where they are today. This week, we spoke with Nick Maclennan, our youth-owned business advisor, on entrepreneurship, his academic background, and more!

Export Navigator: Can you please introduce yourself and your role as an export advisor for youth-owned businesses? 

Nick: My name’s Nick Maclennan, export advisor for youth-owned businesses with the Export Navigator program. I wear many hats as an entrepreneur, academic, and athlete.

As an export advisor, I work with clients to help them assess their export capacity, business needs, and help them develop a plan to export right the first time. Throughout implementation of that plan, I function as a central resource for any questions they may have or challenges that may arise. I also help connect them with a wealth of contacts and resources within our networks.

Export Navigator: According to your bio, you’ve got both exporting and entrepreneurial experience! Can you talk a bit more about your background and how it ties into your current role?

Nick: I’ve got an M.A and B.A in International Studies, which led me to participating in a trade mission to Korea when I studied abroad there. 

As an entrepreneur, I’ve founded two tea companies and a consulting firm. In the athletics realm I run, cycle, and swim – with the goal of doing the Ironman Triathlon once COVID allows!

My academic knowledge, combined with real-life business experience, has provided me with a strong foundation in effective planning and business management. All my experiences, from academics to sports, has taught me that effective planning is essential to success; that diligence and discipline are critical; that exporting is a marathon (not a sprint!), and nothing worth doing is easy.

Having these skills and lessons in my toolbox allows me to help clients understand the path before them. When challenges appear, I make sure the client is properly equipped to confront them head-on with workable solutions, and I help motivate them to keep going even when things get tough.

Export Navigator: What’s your approach/advising style like, working with youth-owned businesses?

Nick: Direct. There’s an old adage – you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. You have to want to grow your company to export effectively. It takes time, money, and a significant amount of energy. But as I’ve said, nothing worth doing is easy. I’m incredibly honest with clients right off the bat, and they appreciate that. It’s important to not sugarcoat things, because it leads to disappointment later. I work with folks who are fully dedicated to growth, and consequently, they achieve the goals they set when we started on their export journey.

With that said, I’m also very understanding and flexible. Having founded several businesses myself, I understand that each client has their own varying needs and work at differing paces. That’s why it’s so important to be honest about your capacity and plan things out properly to ensure you’re always moving forward.

Export Navigator: What have you learned from working with your clients that you didn’t know before?

Nick: That vegetables taste good! Honestly, have you tried BC Brine’s pickles? Are pickles a vegetable?

Export Navigator: What piece(s) of advice do you have for aspiring small business owners/entrepreneurs?

Nick: Dream big! B.C. is a big province, but a relatively small market. For example, by jumping into Seattle alone, you effectively double your market size. Now, just imagine breaking into the rest of the country, the continent, and globally. It’s a big world out there, and business is a great way to expand your horizons.

If you want to grow your business, there is no better way to do it than through exporting – so chat with us today and let’s get you on track to exporting right the first time ‘round!

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Thinking of exporting? Find an advisor in your region today and discover what opportunities are available to you.