The Argentinian woman that looks forward to making Latin small business more efficient in the United States
Luciana Paulise is a quality engineer and this year she opened in Texas a subsidiary of her consultancy firm to help companies, especially Latin small business, to be more efficient.
Interview By Xavi Ledesma for Apertura magazine. Click here for the original version in Spanish.
Used to dealing with Argentine entrepreneurs, Luciana Paulise decided to bet on the Latin small business market in the United States. Beaumont, Texas, was the city chosen to install the US subsidiary of Biztorming, her consultancy firm, which provides advice for SMEs on how to improve processes and become more efficient. A few months after having moved to the US, she was elected by the Chamber of Commerce of the city to be one of the 40 under 40. In dialogue with Mujeres Que Hacen (Women who do), Paulise details the differences between Argentine and American entrepreneurs and reveals the indispensable tips so that Argentine SMEs can plant a flag and fulfill the American dream.
“I wanted to open the company in the United States since long time ago, I liked the market, but you never know if you are really going to be able to sell your product there,” explained the author of the book “SOS Pymes, 20 keys to boosting your business”. Although the abundance of companies dedicated to the same item was a worry for her, Paulise was sure that the Latin small business market was going to be her niche. “The idea was to change the Latin way of thinking to help them do things more professionally. My focus was going to be on companies run by Latinos and those run by Americans, but with Latino employees, “she said. This is how in July of this year she moved to Beaumont definitively after her husband was transferred to that city, and a month later Biztorming USA was already operational.
However, Paulise’s story does not begin in the United States. While she worked for ExxonMobil in the accounting area for almost a decade, at the same time she was developing his expertise in process improvement. “In all the companies where I had worked, I started doing it (process improvement), it was something innate. I always tried to see how I could do everything more efficiently, “says the entrepreneur. First, she left the postgraduate in Finance that she was doing to start another one in Integral Quality Management at the Technological Institute of Buenos Aires (ITBA), afterward, she took several courses in Continuous Improvement. Finally, her vocation culminated in a kind of double life. During the day she continued working for the oil company, while from 18 to 20 p.m. she put on the consultant suit and worked for SMEs that were looking forward to improving their business process.
Biztorming began informally in 2011, after putting together a business plan with one of her MBA colleagues who was studying at the Universidad del CEMA (CEMA University). It was not until 2014 that she decided to devote full time to her company and realized that the consultations were increasing and the size of the companies that were looking for her help was growing bigger. She currently has a team in Buenos Aires and another team being trained in the United States – formed by both Latinos and locals – although Paulise does not rule out taking some of her Argentine employees to add experience outside.
What are the differences between Argentinian ones and US entrepreneurs?
In the United States, people are better prepared to be entrepreneurs, which does not mean that there are more entrepreneurs but the population is more prepared, they all have their elevator pitch. In Argentina you may meet an entrepreneur and he cannot tell you his idea in a minute, they usually do not believe in preparing a business plan either. Most of the American entrepreneurs start better prepared. They trust in planning because they know that what they plan there is more likely to happen.
What do local entrepreneurs need to change then?
Many of them manage every single detail and do not know how to delegate, they know a lot about the product they sell but they still need to be more professional to be able to grow. They have to learn to lead a team. Sometimes they are in the business all day and they do not have time to think strategically, they need to free up their heads to think more about it.
What are the keys to start a company?
You have to have a plan, analyze who you are going to offer your product and how much you have to invest. Companies usually need two years to stabilize work; you have to survive that time. But if you did not think about it and you do not have a money buffer, many companies fail because they are not prepared to wait for the business to work. Once they have a company formed, the process never ends. The last key is to go over your plan, again and again, you always need to review your processes. I realize that entrepreneurs do too much rework.
Does that have to do with poor planning or with the company growing and having their processes adapted to the new size?
The company is alive, it is like a person. Ideally, you build the processes and the business plan at the beginning. But that’s just the beginning. As times goes by, the processes change and you have to start getting out of the operations. You have to train people who can serve those customers that you cannot continue to serve as you grow. The improvement is continuous; companies will always have something they can improve.
What do you have to take into account when you want to start an SME in the US? How can an entrepreneur increase his chances of success there?
It is very important that they see the market, travel there, know how they think, what they like. The trips I did were very useful. It is important to research and find out if there are other similar companies located in the city in which you want to settle. The Argentinian is used to limit himself, do not limit yourself. Think big and invest big, but think well about the investment so as not to do it in vain. A good investment is the certifications you can get, to be part of a database through which your company can be found. I certified my company at the Better Business Bureau, but there are also certifications for Latinos and woman-owned businesses.