Companies considering moving into an international market are often focused on the revenue and profit associated with such a move. But what are some of the intangibles to putting together an international strategy?

Consider the impact on the employees. Everyone wants to be associated with a company that’s going places. What better than to work for a company that is selling in countries through out the world. It’s a great boost for morale and employee self confidence.

My experience is that companies that are international have a much better chance of discovering new opportunities that weren’t a part of the original export plan. The saying that one thing leads to another is a trueism when a company is selling its products internationally.

The company itself will benefit from being associated with selling internationally. Vendors will view it differently, banks will often be more willing to partner with a company that has true international business and it will be easier to hire top of the line employees when you can demonstrate an international sales presence.

So going international is much more than profit and growth, although both of those are the real motivation to expand into new markets around the world.

Another Wisconsin ExporTech program begins this week in Eau Claire. Craig is coaching two companies to develop their international export plans and strategies. The program runs for 3 months and is a great tool for companies who have either not sold internationally or are just dabbling. There is still room for a couple of additional companies to participate. If interested register at http://www.uwstout.edu/profed/exportech/ or contact Joni Geroux gerouxj@uwstout.edu

The global workforce is going through a change. In developing countries there are more workers joining the work force then there are jobs for them. As an example, a recent TV spot highlighted Chinese reality shows where young adults highlighted their work skills and ambitions in an attempt to “win a job” from some of the employers participating in the show. Because of the lack of jobs many Chinese job seekers take positions in other countries in order to earn a living. We need to attract the best and brightest to the US.

In the US we aren’t doing our part and taking advantage of the shifting global workforce. We educate students from many parts of the world and then we drive them away by not making it easy for them to stay here.  As the global workforce changes, business needs to continue to adapt. And, the US government needs to find ways for our business’ to compete and keep the brightest and hardest working individuals within our companies. We also need to attract workers from other parts of the world who are looking for a place to go.

This country was built on a foundation of bright, hard-working and creative immigrants. We need to continue those policies and business strategies that have brought us success in the past.

Minda Zetlin wrote an article recently in Inc. that I think anyone starting a small businesses should read. The article was “Starting a Business? Think Global Right From The Start”.  Here is an excerpt;

It may sound silly: You don’t even have your first customer yet. But considering a global strategy from the moment you launch your business can set you up for greater flexibility and much faster growth. Even a corner pizza shop might have global reach–just ask the place adjacent to Zuccotti Park that took orders from all over the world for pizzas to be sent to Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Here are four good reasons to create a global strategy from the very start:

1. You already have a huge advantage.

2. You’ll design it right the first time.

3. You can be a global customer as well as seller.

4. You can grow very fast.
The full article can be found at  http://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/starting-a-business-think-global-from-day-one.html

It has been interesting to watch the pendulum swing back to the US when we look at US manufacturers. it wasn’t that many years ago outsourcing was the rage and production for many US companies was moving outside of the US. Now, we see it coming the other way. US manufacturers are adding jobs and making investments in their business.  Along with that as they look at how to expand their business many are looking to expand internationally. Opportunities in Europe, South America, China and many other countries are everywhere.

If a company, and not just manufacturers, isn’t looking to better understand their value in other parts of the word they are missing the boat and leaving money on the table.

We always preach to our clients to be sensitive to the local culture and language when doing business outside of the US. Packaging, instructions, warranty, terms and conditions, copy writing, positioning, etc are all important to a successful international strategy.

What we often don’t think about is the role language plays when we deal with our international partners, customers and vendors. We meet with them or have a phone conversation, make decisions and execute plans based on these discussions and conversations. As a seasoned veteran of many international relationships we have come to learn that what you say and what they think you say are quite often very different. Be very careful. Just because someone says they understand, doesn’t mean they do.

Here is a good article that validates this truism. And, according to the article written by Stephanie Overby in an April 05, CIO newsletter, understanding between our international partners and customers is getting worse not better.

Global Business English Skills Declining

We believe it is up to us, you and me, to take responsibility and make sure we are truly understood.

A recent newsletter made an interesting point about mergers and acquisitions.  Not only have manufacturing jobs moved off shore to Asia Pacific but now acquisitions and mergers seem to be doing the same. Recent Ernst & Young data shows that technology mergers and acquisitions in 2011 for Asia-Pacific, including Japan, totaled 552 deals – a 19 percent increase over 2010. The deal value was USD$24 billion – representing a nearly 50 percent increase over the previous year. Most of the deals were attributed to social media, mobile technology or cloud computing. China accounted for 36 percent of the deals.

A recent article by Linette Lopez from the Business Insider covered the China Business Council’s survey regarding the biggest issues when doing business in China. You can find the entire article  here http://read.bi/pZhVde.

I was curious what our readers are experiencing in their business initiatives in China. Of particular interest was the reference that IP protection has improved. While that statement may be true I am not sure the level of improvement is significant. It still seems that China has a long way to go. What are your thoughts on this topic.

Are you as optimistic as the respondents to the survey from the China Business Council?

It is all to common that an organizations international strategy is determined by the part of the world that contacts it first and sends an unsolicited purchase order. While we all like to take the orders and keep the cash flow going, be careful not to jump to quickly.

Every company needs a strategy. What’s the opportunity? Why is this country or region preferable to another one? How are you selling your products in that country? What are the shipping, legal, environmental and tax implications? All too often we take the path of least resistance rather than invest some time to determine the best opportunity and how to approach it. Be careful.

Chinese consumers are going online at a rapid rate. According to a recent Forrester report its online population will increase from 251.3 million in 2009 to 432 million in 2014. More than 80% of online consumers in metropolitan China access the Internet via a broadband connection. And as of April 2011, China’s three main carriers, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom, reported that 3G subscriber numbers were some 67 million, up from just 10 million in 2009.

China is rapidly creating one of the largest online retail markets in Asia Pacific, growing from $29.1 billion in 2009 to $159.4 billion in 2015.

The three most popular methods of paying for goods online are – Alipay, COD and Bank Transfers.

Developing a China online strategy is key to success in this region of the world. Don’t ignore this channel and opportunity.