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behind the curtains bureaucracy hurdles our story

Happy Monday, and welcome to a new week, with brand new challenges. Seven days from now we’re off to meet our suppliers in person. We have a packed schedule of eight factory visits in three different cities in five days, when we will get to see, touch, and try out our samples for the first time. Very, very exciting!

This morning we were scheduled to hand in our visa applications, and smack, bang, we ran into our first bureaucratic wall. I thought I had our applications covered, but 1) I did not have formal invitation letters from our partners stating details like my gender, birth date and passport number on stamped company letterheads and 2) I did not have print outs of all our hotel reservations. Never mind the fact that I had every detail of our itinerary with addresses and phone numbers printed, as well as written down records of our hotel bookings. Personally I suspect the lady at the screening desk was just having a bad morning, but what do I know, this is our first visa application for PRC, and her hands might be tied by red tape too.

Having dealt with similar issues many times before – we lived in India for three years, and one of the benefits that brings is the patience to deal with bureaucratic challenges – I took a cab back to the office and started an email bombardment of all our contacts, begging them for formal invitation letters, and disclosing all of my personal details to each and every one. That, along with having sent my measurements for the samples means that our suppliers know more about me than pretty much anybody else. Starting a business is like having a baby, you might as well just surrender to exposure and vulnerability and enjoy the ride.

Heading in to the visa office again tomorrow morning. This time with revealing letters, and extra documents, stamped and sealed just for the sake of it. In this day and age, printed letters stating this or that intent still go a long way. Tomorrow we’ll have to bend the rules just a little bit by trying to get in without an appointment… we’ll see how that flies. I’ll keep you posted.


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