“Allow me to state here how much I love Barcelona , an admirable city, a city full of life, intense, a port open to the past and future.” – Le Corbusier
Welcome to Barcelona! What a spectacular place; the culture, the history, the food are all simply amazing.
Do you remember the opening to this series? The sleepless night of tossing and turning I shared? Well, Déjà Vu.
This was the longest flight of my life. I was tripping for days, probably weeks. I was full of anxiety and worry and for nothing, of course. The flight was easy and comfortable. We flew Virgin, excellent service and it helped that Kerry booked a late flight, so I could sleep.
But this isn’t about the flight, it’s about the vacation, excuse me, business trip. Truth be told, it was a little bit of both; one of the perks of running a travel-centric business.
Business trip you ask? Why was a small company from the US traveling to Barcelona for business? Remember that I mentioned in several parts that we knew we had to build a stronger, fuller basket? This was part of the plan to grow and diversify. We grew our staff so we could innovate and manufacture more unique products. We licensed other unique products that complimented our “on the go” motif. We revised and rebranded our existing products. We diversified our US distribution. We expanded into Europe. And, we explored the option of partnering with a larger car seat and stroller company. That was located in Barcelona.
We had quite a lot going on, right? As I write this I think to myself “what were we thinking?” The fact of the matter was it was all a process. It wasn’t all at once and opportunities were presented that just seemed to makes sense at the time. Things unfolded before us that seemed to fit well with our long term vision. Hindsight is 20-20 and our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs. We should have been more selective, but we live and learn.
Back to Barcelona! We met with our potential partners and we met with our European sales agent. See, it really was a business trip. The Spanish company was a larger company with two brands; one in the stroller category, and a new brand focusing on accessories that was a great fit for us. We loved the product, the concept, the design, and most of all the people. They were some of the nicest people we have met both inside and outside of business. If you are going to partner in any way, it is important to find compatible people. Long story short, the new brand was a new division of a larger company. The owners were most interested in a US partner that could distribute all their brands. Unfortunately, due to our size, it was more than we could realistically take on.
It was great fun working through the meetings and brainstorming on how we could make it all work. Everyone wanted to work together; we just couldn’t provide what they needed. It was also very fascinating to witness their professional culture in action. Not to mention their endearing hospitality – truly an experience I will never forget.
That partnership did not work out, but we did expand into Europe. I will save that story for another time. All in all, the trip was very productive and educational. They really put into perspective our current position and capabilities. It forced us to realize what we could and couldn’t do. An important lesson for all businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs is to understand that growth is great but it has to be managed properly. It must be done within the parameters of your capabilities. Growing too fast can grow you right into debt and out of business. Remember, it also takes money to grow; either your own or someone else’s.
So, at the end of the trip, it was all worth it. We secured our European agent and fleshed out a plan. We gained perspective and clarity how we can and can’t expand. And, we aware able to bring the family along and have a nice vacation during the second half of the trip. Not a bad trip – until we got back to SFO. And they confiscated my chorizo and iberico ham!
Note to self – don’t smuggle meat from Spain! See you next time back in the States where we are still playing the name game.