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With a Little Help, Small Businesses Go Global

Sage Live user Trebuchet Global Logistics makes it possible

Here's a word problem for you: Imagine your company makes skis. Your market in the US is only about six months out of the year. You want to sell your skis in the southern hemisphere to grow your business. You sell your skis for about $400—and it costs about $400 to ship them to a client in the southern hemisphere. How much profit does that leave you?

Nope, it's not a trick question. It leaves you no profit, which isn't a great way to grow a business.

The ultimate group discount

This is the exact challenge that two-year-old Trebuchet Global Logistics helps their clients overcome. First of all, they work almost exclusively with small businesses. "No customer we have has more than 10 or 15 employees," says CEO Chris Miner. And in order to help those small businesses compete in a global market, he explains, "We do everything from small package shipping to sea cargo containers, going all over the world."

"The thing I'm most proud of is being able to help startups and small businesses become competitive."
– Chris Miner, CEO of Trebuchet Global Logistics

It's a pretty sleek business model, really. "We don't own anything," Chris points out. Instead, Trebuchet Global Logistics has a ton of small business clients. "We're shipping $2.5 million worth of small package inventory alone, but that's based upon lots of small companies." That high volume gives Chris and his team some serious bargaining power. Strength in numbers, as they say. Chris goes to vendors—think FedEx, UPS—and negotiate deep discounts for that big group of clients. "Essentially what we offer them is anywhere from a 75 to an 80% discount off of what they would normally pay." Pretty smart, right?

Deb Shaw from Winterboots, a Trebuchet customer says, "Their shipping rates have allowed us to use FedEx 2-Day for our free shipping at the same price we'd previously received for UPS Ground shipping. As a small business, that means we can offer the same convenience that larger sites like Amazon do."

And remember your imaginary ski business? You can charge your regular $400 price—but you can ship from the U.S. to Australia for just $60. Now that's a profit margin.

Smart business

It's clear that logic and efficiency are in Trebuchet's DNA. So imagine Chris's frustration when he realized that his accounting software was anything but logical and efficient. "I was using an off-the-shelf, online accounting system. As customers grew and volume grew, it became difficult because I couldn't upload .csv or Excel files into the invoice part—you had to literally hand cut and paste. It was ridiculous."

That may not have been the worst thing, except for the fact that each tracking number for every small package is a line item on an invoice. "We literally get invoices nonstop," Chris says. "FedEx sends us three or four invoices every single day, and some are 10,000 line items. We also get invoices from our other vendors." So to cut and paste all that? Yikes.

Thankfully, his CFO (who also happens to be his sister) was previously a controller for a multi-national company and really knows her stuff. "She's forgotten more about accounting than I'll ever know," Chris jokes. She spent about three months writing an Excel program to solve this problem, which served as pretty effective Band-Aid for a while. "It was working, but it was kind of like anything else that's homemade: it worked, but it wasn't super reliable. We needed something more stable," Chris says.

For now, Chris has one dedicated employee who handles accounts receivable using a software program that's "like an Italian sports car," Chris says. "Pretty, really fast, but it breaks down way too much. You cut and paste wrong or erase a formula, and it takes hours to backtrack and correct. She has to go very slowly and take her time." In fact, this is her whole job.

So in the spring of 2016, he began researching his options and came across Sage Live. The capability Chris needed didn't come standard even with Sage Live, but because it's built on the Salesforce.com platform, that capability is just a few programming steps away. As soon as Sage Live is configured how he needs, Chris says, his only-accounts-receivable employee will have a whole new lease on life. "If she can just take a .csv sheet to Sage Live, and it uploads, sorts and organizes it, then she can focus on accounts payable, financials and other things."

Chris himself will be able to get out from under his own administrative duties, which have ballooned as Trebuchet has grown over the last six months. "50% of our business is word of mouth. For every new prospect that becomes a customer, they'll bring us three new customers by word of mouth. So my time is better served looking for new customers. We need to start getting back out there and doing that."

Small business champions

Ultimately, Chris is exactly right: more efficient accounting frees him up to grow the business, rather than scramble to keep it running. With the increased capabilities of Sage Live, he'll be able to help other small businesses do the same.

"The thing I'm most proud of," Chris says, "is being able to help startups and small businesses become successful and competitive and be able to expand their markets from a geographical perspective." Remember our hypothetical ski business? It's actually a real customer of Trebuchet Global Logistics. The company is called J Skis, and it's run by Jason Levinthal.

"Before we started working with Jason, he sold an average of 50 pairs of skis in the southern hemisphere. He's now sold over 800 pairs in the southern hemisphere." To help make a small business truly a global business, Chris says, is what it's all about—and the team at Sage Live couldn't agree more.

Learn more about what Sage Live can do for your business.

Learn more about what Sage Live can do for your business

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