By Mona Pearl, Special for US Daily Review.
Includes excerpts from Grow Globally: Opportunities for Your Middle-Market Company Around the World. Copyright (c) 2011 by Mona Pearl. Reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Focus on Success and Avoid Top Three Costly Mistakes
The opportunities for global expansion are infinite, and the potential for exponential growth is alluring; however, attaining success demands a well-conceived global expansion plan that is grounded in accomplishing specific corporate goals through the careful formulation of business development strategies.
Set Clear Objectives
The reason to go global must come from a legitimate need to change that is based on accurate data, starting with the present and looking into the future. It begins with asking the right questions. Don’t skip this critical step. You can significantly increase your likelihood of success by researching the market and the competition and; setting clear objectives, timelines, milestones, and metrics and using this research to create a roadmap to success. And of course, all this information has to be analyzed and interpreted in context. Data alone will not suffice. Make sure you define the right target market(s) for your product or service and choose the appropriate mode of entry.
Understand the Fundamental Importance of Cultural Differences
The differences that make all the difference are crucial to success. Anyone can see the tip of the iceberg, but it takes a trained eye to see what’s hidden under the water. Be sensitive to cultural nuances. I’ve witnessed many business transactions that come to a screeching halt and fall apart due to cultural misunderstandings and cultural ignorance. Don’t assume anything, and do your homework. Business people in an international business environment must not only be sensitive to differences in culture and language, but they must also learn to adopt the appropriate policies and strategies for coping with these differences.
Don’t underestie the Time to Market for Your Product/Services
Don’t put expansion plans at risk by budgeting too short a timeline. When this happens, inevitably, the business depletes available capital and the upfront investment of time and money is wasted while your international reputation is blemished. Resist the temptation to be overly optimistic. Look at the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) index for planning purposes, and focus on interpreting that information correctly and analyzing how it will affect your specific business plans. You cannot put a time frame on building relationships and trust.
Where To Start?
Be prepared isn’t just a boy scout’s mantra. It is essential in every business and even more so when going global.
It all starts with making a commitment to stop peeking through the keyhole, open the door and get in the global game. Entering the global marketplace requires a tremendous dedication of resources, capital, time, and leadership. It has to become a priority.
Perform a thorough market readiness assessment. Ask the right questions, and perform due diligence in context to identify your potential customers and learn to think locally. A detailed assessment will get your expansion right the first time around and avoid costly financial and opportunity losses. There is too much data out there, therefore, the real skill is to know who to strategically interpret it in a global context and relations to your company, and then integrate it into the overall vision.
Plan and define the right opportunity for your company and establish realistic goals; everything takes longer than expected: Do not underestimate the time and expense of launching products/services into the global marketplace.
Action: There is always a learning curve that can be optimized and shortened with getting expert advice to help you accomplish your goals across borders. Make sure you deploy the right team; a successful vice president of sales in the United States may not employ the skills necessary to navigate the global market. Adopt appropriate polices and strategies to cope with different cultures: These are the sensitivities that can make or break a deal. Consider language, negotiation styles, gender issues and local business practices. Remember, there is no one way to do business, and in order to be successful, mastering cross border negotiations skills, a wide array of corporate growth models and knowing how to develop traction.
Implementation: Strategies fail in the execution phase, so being in-tune with the changing reality, charting actionable steps and having the best talent that understands and can deliver global growth.
Keep your eye on the ball. Maintain success, build on it and leverage growth.
Focus on Opportunities, Not Obstacles
Ultimately, a successful global expansion is dependent on a company’s ability to view the world in a new way. In this increasingly complex and competitive global environment exceptional skill is then needed to evaluate the options, manage the risks and execute a winning expansion strategy. Winners will reap the benefits, while expanding and executing growth strategies more quickly and more effectively than their competitors. What was won’t return, and there are new players, new rules and it is a global economy.
Be fast, flexible, innovative, motivated and enjoy the adventure! It’s a big world out there with lots of potential for businesses with a keen entrepreneurial spirit.
Mona Pearl is a global strategic business development expert as well as the founder and COO of Beyond A Strategy, Inc., a company providing expertise to plan and implement cost effective and sustainable global growth that improves a company’s bottom line and helps realize seamless international operations. In addition to Beyond A Strategy, Inc., she has also founded and operated 2 additional businesses and sits on the board of several organizations. Past clients include Deutsche Telekom, Michelin, American Airlines, Philip Morris and Bacardi.
She is the author of Grow Globally: Opportunities.