Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tiny Tipis Goes International

A Simple Inspirational Moment

Shipping is a major part of any company these days as the internet digs it's claws deeper into every corner of the earth. People in Russia could be reading a blog that you might have written for an American audience! Such is the nature of the beast though with Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the likes taking over the generation I grew up in. Today, I discuss shipping because I had a first for my business. Today, I shipped Internationally for the first time.

I hadn't planned on shipping globally yet. I figured it would be months, maybe even years, before I would need to. When I received a note from the buyer saying I could send it to either a United States or Australian address I was at first inclined to send my canvas items withing where I am familiar, but; that brought up questions. What would it cost? Was it reasonable? Should I expand my company to serve that many people?

I quickly pulled up the USPS website and typed in the info I had. The page loaded and I scanned down the prices until I got the option I normally use within the US. Well, I thought, that's not as scary as I expected. Besides, it really wasn't up to me if it was reasonable or not. The buyer could decide for themselves.

I sent my customer the prices I calculated plus a dollar of buffer. I gave them more options than I anticipated I could have this early on. The response came quick along with a paypal payment to my account. The deal was good! I had my first customer located in Australia and my first chance to expand past the boundaries of the United States.

The next morning I packed my truck with boxes and envelopes to ship including the envelope marked for Australia. My stomach gurgled at me with nerves as I hopped in the drivers seat. I knew the principal of what I had to do. Step 1, find the correct forms. Step 2, figure out how to correctly fill our said forms. Step 3, hope I calculated my prices right.

I was lucky and got to the Post Office during a slow time so there wasn't a line. It always makes it easier to interrogate the workers about shipping regulations when there isn't a chain of angry impatient people behind you. To my surprise, I had grabbed the exact forms I needed. Check a box here, enter a weight there, fill in the addresses, and sign the bottom... the lady stamped the square in the corner of the page I filled out and complemented me on needing minimal guidance.

I asked if there was a way I could take a few extra customs forms so next time I needed to ship international I would be more organized for them. The lady helping me was thrilled. "Of course!!! We encourage it!"

On my way home I thought about all the times I had mailed letters as a child. As I grew up technology started to take over the times I would have normally slapped a stamp on an envelope. Bills, letters to family, photos, Christmas cards with money... all things I can do easier from a computer.

I felt triumphant. It didn't matter how simple the process was, it was something I was clueless on and highly unsure of. I had shied away from it but now I saw that there were so many more customers available. Shipping need not stop me now.

For today I close with this thought:

 May we never stop learning with soft hearts and open minds. Let us conquer the world with love and knowledge. Never give up.

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