To introduce you to them and the incredible work they do, we’ve started a blog series to take a deeper look at each export advisor’s unique journey in international business.
First up, we have Oriana Brueggemann, Export Navigator’s advisor for businesses owned by women. Her impressive career spans 21 years in international sales, where she has worked in various sectors. She has also helped many businesses achieve their exporting goals. Today, Oriana is here to share some of what she’s learned over the years.
Export Navigator: Can you please introduce yourself and what you do as an export advisor?
Oriana: I’m Oriana, an export advisor dedicated to women-led businesses participating in Export Navigator. My main objective is to help my clients increase sales both interprovincially and internationally. As women are one of the underrepresented groups in business, I also connect my clients with other support programs that they qualify for. These opportunities may not be directly export-related but will strengthen their business in other areas to get them export ready.
Export Navigator: How did you get into international business?
Oriana: Ever since I started my career, I’ve always been working in international business development. In fact, my first internship was in sales development and growth! Then, when I first moved to Canada, I lived in Montreal working for a consultant firm that helped all sorts of companies grow internationally. That was one of the jobs that helped shape me into the export advisor I am today.
I’ve gained lots of relevant exporting experience working in a wide range of sectors, from telecommunications to infrastructure. My main area of focus now is in the natural health industry, where I help small businesses that export with compliance and registration.
I value the variety of work experience I’ve had because it gave me perspective. Since I’ve already dealt with many of the issues small business owners face, I can readily give practical advice to my clients.
Export Navigator: Is there a memorable client story that you can share with us?
Oriana: It’s hard to choose just one! The first story that comes to mind is a client whom I’ve been working with for quite a long time. They essentially knew nothing about exporting when they first connected with me and had no idea how to start. Then, they worked with me through the Export Navigator program and completely exceeded my expectations.
This client’s business went from having zero international participation to establishing an active income stream from exporting. Their annual revenue more than doubled after expanding their market. From what I can tell, they still have more room to grow. It’s so rewarding to see my clients succeed and expand their business through exporting – this story proves you don’t need to be experienced to partake in the program.
Export Navigator: What do you look for in a business to determine if they are ready to grow beyond B.C.?
Oriana: I look at their business plan. Making a well thought out plan can be tricky, but important for your business to grow. Exporting is all about strategy. Many business plans are too broad and don’t break their goals down into measurable steps. That’s where I come in – as an export advisor, a big part of my job is to help businesses map out a strong export plan.
I always encourage people to reach out as soon as possible if they are seriously considering exporting and need guidance. That way, I can help give them a head start by pointing them in the right direction. It also gives me more time to learn about and address the business’s specific goals, challenges, and needs.
Export Navigator: What piece of advice do you have for aspiring small business owners/entrepreneurs?
Oriana: My most important advice for small business owners is to not underestimate themselves. I noticed that many people hold back from exporting because of this reason. More often than not, their business already has a great product, look, and presence in their local market. That’s enough to start breaking into new markets.
Thank you to Oriana for taking the time to speak with us and for her thoughtful answers. To learn more about all the export advisors on the Export Navigator team, look on our website.
Find an advisor in your region today and discover what opportunities are available to you.