Sunday, October 31, 2004

Entrepreneur in a Global Organization

In the Star Online

For any entrepreneur contemplating going global, this article is for you! Here is part of it:

Hatim argued that one could not be a global enterprise unless and until one not only thought globally but also acted globally. He also believed that one should not be intimidated by the differences that exist in this world but instead embrace those differences.  

Citing an incident with a South African bank, he related VeriFone Inc’s experience in winning a deal by living this philosophy. When he went to meet the chairman of the bank, Hatim had with him the VeriFone Philosophy document, which had been translated into Afrikaner (Laurel here ... how sensitive and important that he did this in his business dealing -- read on). 

The chairman almost could not believe it and said he had never heard of a global enterprise that was thoughtful enough to have documents in English and also in his own language. The meeting went on for about 45 minutes and nothing was said about VeriFone, but a lot was said about ethics and global leadership. When he walked out the office, Hatim said, he was 100% certain that his company would get the orders. 

And it did, in that case and in many others. 

The moral of the story is that when one has a document – like the VeriFone Philosophy document – translated into different languages, one actually believes in it. 

Hatim admitted that it was very difficult to get people to follow one’s lead, though. One has got to continually communicate and make sure that people understand that one is serious by living what one believes, i.e. “walk the talk”, he said. 

To read the entire article, visit: Entrepreneur in a Global Organization

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Think Globally, Act Globally -- Lessons from the Big Guys

In Always On

The CIOs of Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble talk about their next level of tech adoption, and why it means investing and expanding globally. This is a very interesting article and site that brings in the BIG guys, including founding partners Accenture, Audi, IBM and KPMG. I found the reader's comments to be the most insightful.

Small businesses can learn about big-picture international strategy from this interview. Here are some highlights:

Margulius (Interviewer): Let me ask you both about global technology. Wal-Mart is expanding very aggressively and acquiring other companies. You bought $12 billion worth of merchandise from China in 2002 --I read that somewhere, I don't know if it's accurate -- which is about 10% of its exports to the United States. Clearly, you're a huge global business. What do you have to do with technology to enable that, and what can the people in this room do to help provide better technology to you?

Dillman (Interviewee from Wal-Mart): I think a lot of people are moving in this direction. We run common systems around the world. We run common platforms; we're on a single network. It makes us very efficient, and it means we can roll out a lot of things very fast and share best practices. A lot of our suppliers like P&G are pretty good at operating globally with a single customer and a single account team (Laurel here -- very practical advice even for small businesses).

To be honest, the technology suppliers are terrible, at least so far. And one of the things we're struggling with is we make decisions as our international business grows, and we're pretty close to this point right now. We have tended to make decisions on what technology and which suppliers we would select based on what the cost model looked like in the United States. And what we're finding is that it's so disproportionately different in some of the countries where we need the cost to be the lowest.

So even in China, the stuff is manufactured there, we find that the costs are double and triple to buy the technology we use in the United States and deploy it in China, even though the cost of everything else including the manpower is so much less, that we will start shifting our decisions based on what the global deployment looks like and the cost and not the domestic. We have pushed every single one of our suppliers, technology suppliers, to figure out how to work with us globally (Laurel here -- yeah!). We're going to negotiate deals one time (Laurel here -- another great tip for small busineses ... be selective and focus carefully on your targets). We're going to have software deals that are one deal per Wal-Mart everywhere.

Margulius: So does that mean the investors should be investing in foreign companies who are building to that house structure, or does it mean they need to just encourage their local companies to roll out the technology globally first?

Dillman: I'd probably invest in whichever one you think is going to happen first (Laurel here -- great advice!). More and more companies are going global in effort, and you're seeing deployment. And this might help you be first in that space.

David (Interviewee from Proctor and Gamble): We're not terribly dissimilar, but there are differences. We are not as centralized. It's the basic architecture and infrastructure of the company. We have four global databases: customers, suppliers, materials, and pricing. It's one of the reasons why we can do data synchronization any place in the world very quickly; I have one global reference database now for that.

There is another side of this that says we need to be very close to the business unit and so we allow a fair amount of innovation to take place as close to the customer or as close the brand or the country that it needs to be. But we're fairly rigid (Laurel here -- something small businesses never are and so we have the competitive advantage here) in understanding what that is, and we publish very well how that must fit in to our global architecture.

The biggest single issue is that I think our companies end up dragging the technology companies around the world, and that is just a really tough process. If you're going to do business with global companies you have to be prepared to be able to do business globally (Laurel here -- absolutely correct!). And most people just don't understand that. You have to have people, you have to have support, you have to do the things that are going to be necessary to support us because we're going to make fewer and fewer one-offs for the U.S. and Canada and Mexico and China. It's just not a supportable proposition in the long term. So, how can you support us on a global basis (Laurel -- excellent concept and a great question for small businesses to ask of themselves before they partner with companies)?

Margulius: Any surprises in dealing with China? Do you go to China? Do you work with their units over there?

Dillman: Absolutely I have been to China. Our dealings are obviously with our stores and our customers there. We approach China a little differently than we have some other countries, and it has turned out to be a very smart approach. We went very slow in China. We learned the country (Laurel here -- this is about doing your homework and understanding the culture), we developed relationships, we developed local talent, and we waited a little bit for the market to return. The government now is ending some of the restrictions on holding companies.

The welcome we receive from the Chinese customer is pretty amazing. Average transaction in the United States is about $35. The average transaction in China is less than $10. So we have a different model. They have less disposable income (Laurel here -- very important detail, along with the next two points, if you plan to sell to China). In China, you don't have a lot of impulse buys. They buy necessities. We've had to learn to adjust to the marketplace.

To read the entire article and to visit this comprehensive site, go to: Think Globally, Act Globally

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Determining Which International Market To Enter: Start Here

In globalEDGE

I stumbled upon this incredible analysis for determining which international market has the most potential for your product or service offering. The focus of the study is to rank the market potential of 24 countries identified as "Emerging Markets" by The Economist. The country listings are then broken down into nine categories: market size, market growth rate, market intensity, market consumption capacity, commercial infrastructure, economic freedom, market receptivity, country risk and overall market potential index.

Find out why Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea have such high ratings. Should they be considered as the top three markets for your product?

To find out more, visit:
Market Potential Indicators for Emerging Markets -- 2004

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Eight (8) Clues To Get You Global

from Laurel Delaney

Here is a general idea of what to expect from each member of your global trade team along with additional clues to get you global:

1. The Executive Committee: they serve as a sounding board for your updates but are primarily interested in knowing what is needed to operate successfully in the global marketplace. Always go in on your meetings with the notion of making huge requests to ensure you walk out with at best, with what you know you need for certain. Clue: try your in-house committee for advice or if you are a one-person shop, set up your own independent council that includes noted academics, consultants and other experts in global trade.

2. The Marketing/Sales Staff: these people are original thinkers and need your advice on how to be creative in marketing your product or service overseas without confusing or offending your customer. They need an international marketing map and can use their domestic one as a model.

3. Logistics: how will they get your product or service to another country? They must understand international trade documentation as it relates to shipping, insurance, customs, compliance, method of payment, duties, tariffs and international laws. A freight forwarder might be an option, not the answer.

4. Operations: they need to know how many widgets you are going to sell, for how long, how often and within what time period. If changes are required in the production of the widget, they need to know that well in advance of the customer's deadline so they can coordinate procurement of raw materials and schedule a production run in a timely manner. Operations people need no outside help here -- this is where they shine and usually rise to the occasion.

5. Finance: how will your company get paid on overseas sales? The finance people need to know. They must understand international payment methods and terms both offline and online. Your own bank's international department can help here.

6. Research: who will determine which market is the best market to export your product or service?

7. Technology: these people need to adopt a new crop of Net-based apps that dramatically transform the export operations of the organization.

8. Cultural: who will be respectful of local culture and how will that be conveyed on your site? Adapting and translating fast-changing content for multiple countries' markets can be challenging. These people must become familiar with developed software that helps automate the workflow of language translation.

All other team members, such as the legal or customer service departments, must learn to coordinate their activities to ensure the smooth flow of the overall global trade operation.

Your global trade team is just that, a team and should never work in isolation of one another. That's why the set-aside time is important for keeping each person up-to-date with the hope of identifying the broad as well as the detailed issues concerning your trade transaction.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

How to Write For A Multilingual Marketplace

In MarketingProfs

Everyone thought Suzan was nuts to take on the scriptwriting job of crafting sales-training videos for the European divison of a major US car manufacturer. Turns out, she was: the job was both complicated and painful. But she emerged with some great advice for those who need to craft their messages for a global audience.

To read the entire article, visit: How to Write For A Multilingual Marketplace -- Part I

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Small Business CEO -> a special thanks!

In Small Business CEO

A HUGE thanks to Steve over at Small Business CEO for mentioning our upcoming Webinar November 2nd! You can find Steve and his meaningful Small Business CEO blog at:
Small Business CEO Mentions The Global Small Business Blog Webinar 11/2/04!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What It Takes To Sell To The World -> Don't miss virtual workshop 11/2/04!

Are you about ready to sell to the world?

Then sign up for Laurel's upcoming webinar:
Click here for further information and to register: "What It Takes To Sell To The World" virtual workshop November 2nd, 10:00-11:00 a.m. CST (U.S.A.)

Here's what you will learn:

• Facts on "global fever" -- find out what it is and how to catch it!
• Understand who is going global and why.
• How to develop a global mindset.
• How to build a web site and blog.
• Twenty (20) factors to consider before you go global.
• Reference web sites to help you go global.

Don't miss the opportunity. Sign up today (only U.S. $50) to reserve your virtual place. See you November 2nd!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Service Franchises Are Going Global

In Startup Journal by The Wall Street Journal (10/8/04)

Global expansion tempts franchised service-providers. But some U.S. business concepts don’t translate easily overseas. Another consideration is to watch out for nimble copycats who follow in your footsteps on a local level and erode the market.

To read the full, interesting article, visit Startup Journal by The Wall Street Journal: Service Franchises Are Going Global

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Trend: Small Businesses Are Going Global

In Small Business Trends (9/30/04)

A BIG thanks to the futurists at Small Business Trends! Co-editor Anita Campbell interviewed me and then put together a mini trend report highlighting which small businesses are going global and what opportunities lie ahead. The report re-affirms that the world can be your oyster provided you keep up to date on what is happening across the planet.

You can find the report here: Trend Report: Small Businesses Are Going Global