Flair for international biz?

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Sometimes it’s nice to hold all the power.

The British are fairly pleading with American businesses to apply for contracts for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Pardon the pun, but it’s a golden opportunity to make some cash — the Brits have a $12 billion budget for Olympic games-related contracts, including direct procurement and supply chain effects.

George Boutin, executive director of the Office of International Affairs, recommends that business owners check out this Web site, www.CompeteFor.com, to see which contracts are available and whether your company can fill one.

CompeteFor acts as a brokerage service between buyers throughout the supply chain and potential suppliers.

International biz resources

Named Librarian of the Year during 2003 by the New York Times, and recipient of the 2004 Dun and Bradstreet Public Librarian Support award, Terry Zarsky, business services librarian at Penrose Library, was keynote speaker at a recent Office of International Affairs seminar.

Several business owners in attendance talked about her extensive knowledge of business resources and her knack for finding just what people are looking for.

The seminar included details about how to access online databases, free of charge, from home or office, with a Pikes Peak Library District’s card number.

Zarsky recommends that companies doing business overseas use the library’s Exporters’ Encyclopaedia in the reference section, which is updated every two weeks and includes the bank holidays of various countries, among other necessary tidbits.

“You don’t want to end up with products stuck in customs because of a holiday,” she said.

It also contains updated information about the political stability or unrest of a particular nation.

Such as, “You don’t want to travel to this country right now, because they just had a coup and aren’t feeling friendly toward Americans right now,” Zarsky said.

And a useful book for business owners, even those not traipsing about overseas, is “How to negotiate anything with anyone anywhere around the world,” by Frank L. Acuff.

“Certain things can make it or break it when doing business in a foreign country,” Zarsky said. “Are you expected to go to someone’s house for dinner in another country? If so, what do you bring?”

A little research can save a lot of embarrassment — not to mention lost contracts.

Another resource is PPLD’s “360 Search,” which trolls 50 databases simultaneously — ”talk about saving time,” she said. And “Info Trac OneFile” is a database that’s 90 percent full-text.

“Most of the articles can be pulled up — and translated,” Zarsky said. “You can do this for your customers — if English isn’t their first language, you can translate an article into a language they’re more comfortable with.”

The PPLD Web site also has a section of international Web picks, sites that librarians have identified as the best ones to use.

“They’re not clunky — they’re easy to use and the content is highly authoritative,” she said.

If you need a “refresher course” in common phrases for doing business in a foreign country, then “BBC Language Instruction” is available in 36 languages.

For more in-depth, advanced languages, “Tell Me More” can teach you eight of the most common business languages.

“You can even access our database while you’re traveling overseas,” Zarsky said. “We have soldiers who are in Afghanistan who use our database to learn the local language or learn about how to set up a business when they come home.”

Last, but certainly not least, is one of the library district’s crown jewels of business resources — “Business Decision” for market research.

After you plug in the one-, three- or five-mile radius to be targeted, the database churns out a 78-page highly detailed document of consumer demographics in El Paso and Teller counties. (Then it’s up to you to craft your marketing to convince specific consumers that they cannot possibly live without your fabulous products.)

“We pay for a lot of databases that you couldn’t afford on your own,” Zarsky said.

Personal finance education

If you’re carrying about $9,000 in credit card debt, much like the average American consumer referred to in last week’s column, then maybe this free program is calling — nay, shouting your name.

But it requires a bit of old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness. There are 12 one-hour Webinars, from 11 a.m. to noon, beginning Aug. 7 with “Money 101: Knowing the Basics,” and ending July 1, 2010, with Financial Windfalls, offered by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, at www.napfa.org.

Of course, no one will tattle if you skip one or two sessions along the way — but who knows? You might be smarter, wiser and carrying less debt a year from now if you attend all 12.

Rebecca Tonn covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.