Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tear Down Boundaries in 2009

Happy New Year to loyal colleagues, fabulous friends and cheering fans of The Global Small Business Blog! We thank you for your support and readership throughout the year. It makes pursuing our passion that much easier and worthwhile for us.

We hope that we brought you context, insight and authority on global small business news all year long. After all, our blog is designed to help you better understand what it takes (and why) to expand your business internationally -- providing useful, action-oriented news and information -- and we intend to keep delivering on that promise until you tell us otherwise.

We will be back with you at the crack of 2009. We submitted our annual "Global Small Business Trend 2009" report to Small Business Trends a couple of weeks ago and that should be published momentarily. We will share it with you just as soon as it's available online.

In the meantime, get ready to tear down the boundaries on your business and go global in 2009! We've got exciting news to share with you on January 5th so stick around and stay tuned.

From my home in Chicago to yours ... be the change you want to see in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Keep on'

No, that's not a slip. You thought I meant to say, "Keep on truckin'" but what I truly mean to say is exactly this: Keep on'.

A fine little Indian business blog featuring the latest buzz on Indian business and the startup world. The picture above is their holiday message.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Get Your Web Globalization Management Certificate

How do you harness technology for global market expansion in 2009? Get a Web Globalization Management Certificate which will provide you with the cutting edge skill to conduct international business in a networked global economy.

Participants will learn to leverage web technology to tap global markets, conduct international e-commerce, manage virtual teams, develop network alliances, achieve culturally consistent global communications, and much, much more.

Learn more here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace on Earth

May the joys of the season shed light, hope and fill our hearts with peace.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you and yours.

Note: I took this photo a couple of blocks from my home in Chicago along the lakefront.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Small Businesses Hunt For Business

With the economy slowing at home (U.S.A.), small businesses are on the prowl for business -- anywhere. The dollar is on a bumpy ride ... read more here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Global Business Education Remains Strong

Despite the economic crisis, international education remains strong. At EM Lyon Business School (home of the World Entrepreneurship Forum that I attended last month) in France where they claim to educate entrepreneurs for the world, dean Patrice Houdayer, says:
... the school's global and entrepreneurial focus will help grads of one of Europe's oldest business schools succeed, even in a tough economy.
Houdayer's prediction for growth areas?
Students who will go from the (U.S.) and Europe to Asia and Africa. I think Asia, Africa and South America will be a target for the next generation to take their second or third job because the growth is there.
Read more here:

Friday, December 19, 2008

31 Global Gadgets

We thought we'd change course a bit by turning your attention to Popular Mechanics and its latest Wish List 2009. Who knows ... maybe some new sourcing ideas might pop up for you. After all, many of these products are made all over the world. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Designer Labels Are Losing Their Appeal in Japan

Considered the world's leader in luxury goods, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, canceled plans to rent a 10-story building in central Tokyo for a new flagship store. It shows how the global economic downturn has hit Japan, one of the most important markets for the luxury-goods industry.

What struck me is this:
Emerging markets make up about 15% of the luxury-goods sector's overall sales and had in some places been reporting double-digit growth. But as the global financial crisis has knocked down Chinese and Russian stock and property markets, wealthy consumers are under pressure to cut spending.
Japan, meanwhile, makes up 12% of the luxury sector's global sales of €175 billion ($240 billion), according to a Bain & Co. study released last month. But the Bain study said Japan's luxury sales are expected to decline 7% in 2008, after a 2% decline in 2007. LVMH reported that in the first nine months of 2008 Japan sales were down 7%, as its world-wide sales grew 4.5% in the period to €11.6 billion.
Who would think that emerging markets would be snatching up expensive luxury goods?

Read the entire article here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Global IT: To Have Or Not To Have

Microsoft Corporation launched the results of its "Global Small Business Index, October 2008" looking at how small businesses use and manage their IT, as well as their attitudes toward hosted IT services. There is a growing demand for software as a service worldwide.

Findings vary across the board from country to country:

- Half of the small organizations were found to receive some kind of information or support from public services or government bodies. The exceptions were Russia, where the figure is 32 percent; Italy, where it is 39 percent; and Japan, where the figure is 40 percent.

- Overall, 61 percent of respondents said that professional-looking communications were either “critical” or “very important.” Swedish, Russian and Australian small businesses are especially keen to promote the professional image, while Japanese and Chinese small businesses thought it a lower priority.

- While only 15 percent of respondents noted “IT issues” as one of their top three time-consuming activities, in certain countries this task was seen as much more time-consuming — for example, in Sweden and Canada.

- Sweden was seen to be at the vanguard of IT utilization among respondent countries, with above-average adoption of technologies such as mobile e-mail, company-branded e-mail, customer databases and e-commerce Web sites. The U.K. and Russia also scored highly, with China and France showing less adoption of technologies.

- The U.S. and France are the countries where small businesses are most likely not to have any IT, both at 9 percent. Only 3 percent of Russian small businesses have no IT.

- Most of the time, IT support is provided by either the respondent or by someone within the organization, either a professional or an amateur. Occasionally, small companies will recognize that they need to invest in professional IT support; as suggested earlier, this is particularly so in Australia, where 34 percent of respondents used an external IT service and support company.

- The local or national retailer of IT support is very important in this context, as is the online merchant. Around 89 percent of the respondent organizations use one of these three sources. While the British and French respondents use online more than most, Australian and Japanese organizations seem to prefer the local IT provider.

- Overall, 65 percent of respondents said either “yes” or “maybe” when asked if they would consider using a hosting service.

- About 47 percent of small businesses in total said their business would be better if they had more IT resources. Russian (72 percent) and Chinese (83 percent) small businesses felt most strongly about this, suggesting that small businesses in those countries felt IT provided a competitive enablement and advantage.

- About 58 percent of small businesses revealed they use IT skills in-house, while 63 percent (in another question) said they believed larger enterprises with more IT resources gain a competitive advantage. Swedish small businesses were most likely (23 percent) to employ an IT specialist, while many Canadian (20 percent) small businesses also employed an IT specialist. About 34 percent of Australian small businesses used outside IT services and support, much more than any other country.

More here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Set Expectations With Global Strategic Partners

One of the toughest aspects to finding good overseas partners in any part of the world, and particularly in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries, is to first -- after you've got serious interest -- get specific answers to the following questions:

1. How will the partner assist with market entry?
2. What will the partner do if you run interference with law-enforcement authorities?
3. How will the partner alleviate bribes?
4. How will they help you protect your money?

Bottom line: Your partners need to know what you expect and they should also protect you from what you don't know if at all possible.

Read more about what's involved here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How To Get Started In Exporting

I posted over at the OPEN Forum at American Express, "On Your Mark, Get Set, Go Global." It's about how to begin the export process. This will be a five-part series so I hope you stay with me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Should You Take The Leap to Go Global?

Founders of Billpoint, Inc. (not sure how successful it's been), Achievo Corporation, and Israel-based FraudSciences Corporation (which appears to have been bought by PayPal) talk about what it's like to start a company and take it global.

Chen says about his leap to go global:
"You look out over the cliff, and it's exhilarating. It looks like a lot of fun. But sometimes you want to jump off," Chen said with a laugh.
It's not quite like that. Every experience is different. But doing a little homework helps immensely to reduce risks and the fear factor. That's why we created this blog!

Note: After a some cyber-searching, it looks like Billpoint, Inc. was bought by PayPal too!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Global Free-Trade Network

Did you know? Imports and exports equal slightly more than 20 percent of gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output? That's what Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands, says.

Read more here. Do you agree or disagree with the reporter's piece?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Best New Business Startup in 2009: Going Global Firms

In case you missed this (I was in France the day of posting), Matthew Bandyk over at US News and World Report wrote an interesting piece called "Best Small Business to Start: Going-Global Firms."

He mentions two very good reports that you might want to back track on:

1. UPS Business Monitor Report (Global, Americas, Europe and Asia -- I am sure they will update soon to reflect our current global economic environment).

2. Intuit Future of Small Business Report (all three report segments are featured and offer a beacon to the future).

And we are always delighted when our blog is mentioned (hat tip to Matthew even if we are a little late!).

Monday, December 08, 2008

Planet Entrepreneurship

Take some time to view data on new business creation around the world. The measures of entrepreneurial activity are calculated from data collected directly from a registrar of companies and based on the number of total and newly registered corporations. Be sure to click on the color markers to learn more about each country.

Also, take alook at The 2008 World Bank Group Entrepreneurship Survey (WBGES) which measures entrepreneurial activity in over 100 countries/industrial countries around the world over the period of 2000-2007 and illustrates that entrepreneurship leads to prosperity for economies.

Additional information can be found here.

Best of the Best Macaroon Cookies

While in France, I had the pleasure of discovering the much-talked-about Laduree macaroon but did not have an opportunity to taste one. Do you know of it? It is considered the best-of-the-best of macaroon cookies.
These small, round cakes, crisp on the outside, smooth and soft in the middle, are made every morning in Ladurée’s "laboratory." With each new season, Ladurée pays tribute to this its most famous creation by creating a new flavour (pictured is the flavor for autumn --Macaroon Mangue Jasmine).
I am happy to advise that Laduree has a website but for the life of me, I cannot figure out if they ship "fresh to U.S." Can anyone help me out?

Check out Laduree here (but turn your computer's volume down first!) and explore their product offerings here.

You will understand why I crave a Laduree macaroon.

Friday, December 05, 2008

How To Expand Business In An Existing Overseas Market

As featured today in our Borderbuster newsletter ( ...

Q: To Ask The Expert,

I want to expand my business in the market to which I currently export. What would you suggest that I do to increase exposure?

A: From Laurel,

Good to hear! You must be receiving an excellent return-on-your-export-investment to ask such a question. Presumably, you have already estimated the market potential of your product line. And I hope you know whether it is homogeneous or not. For example, there are three main languages -- German, French and Italian -- in tiny Switzerland. You must factor this diversification in when considering export expansion models.

There are a number of steps you can take to further expand and increase exposure. Here are eight:

1. Review your distributorship agreement to make sure you are not legally bound to have only one representative in the overseas market to which you are exporting. This is based on the assumption that you are expanding your market coverage with an existing product line.

2. Determine whether local practices or regulations limit the use of a single distributor. There are numerous advantages to single distribution -- from lower-cost shipping to more cost-effective advertising and marketing to greater clout in the marketplace. You need to think this through before you begin to expand.

3. Communicate with your agent or distributor by letting him or her know that you are eager to expand to other parts of the country. This should take place after you pre-clear Points 1 and 2. Ask if they are interested in representing your company in a new geographic area -- provided they have done a good job up until now -- and find out if they are willing and able to take on this new responsibility. If not, then request a referral to someone who might be. Agents and distributors network constantly. Attend the same trade shows and belong to the same trade associations.

4. Contact the chambers of commerce in the country where you wish to expand. Explain your market position and highlight where you plan to go next and why. Ask for help. That's why they are there.

5. Contact your local trade association and request membership lists of its counterpart groups overseas. See if one matches up to yours. Contact the members on the list to see if they are interested in working with you.

6. Contact a binational group that brings together expatriates and Americans for joint action or through interests in several areas -- political, cultural, business or linguistic. In most foreign
countries, binational chambers of commerce play a far more important role in the local business community than they do in the United States. Membership is considered a sense of pride. They can help you meet foreign companies interested in making contact with potential U.S. business partners.

7. Exhibit at a trade show in the country where you wish to expand. Check with local chambers of commerce, your trade association or your distributor. They should be able to provide you a listing of show dates related to your industry.

8. Set up a warehouse in the overseas market. As your business develops, you should consider setting up a warehouse in the market, stocked with goods to be sold by a salaried staff. This will ensure you have total control over your product and customer base.

By taking advantage of these tips, you can gain greater access to the area you are currently exporting to, increase sales and look for new representation.

Good luck and let us know what happens.

Additional: It can't hurt to check this out too.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Dubai International Financial Centre

The Dubai International Financial Centre is considered one of the fastest growing international financial centers in the world -- along the likes of Hong Kong, London and New York (pre-global financial crisis).

Doing business in the free zone in Dubai requires you do some homework and hire an expert who knows the ropes to help you avoid any pitfalls. Alternatively, you can start on your own here by contacting these folks listed (notice that their email addresses are governmental) and ask specific questions based on your intent so you know where you stand when you do connect with an expert.

Start exploring now so you can be first up when opportunities abound.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

An Inconvenient Truth About the Japanese Diet

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) put together a simple, easy to understand video that shows what's happening in the Japanese food (farming) industry and how, as a result of radical resource changes, Japanese diets are becoming quite unhealthy.

My takeaway: We should consider exporting cheap, high quality nutritional food items to Japan!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Openness, Innovation and Dynamism

That's what we are looking for in the global digital economy. Learn about the Center for Global Innovation and check out some of their published articles here.

Snapshot of one:

"Not So Flat After All" by Bret Swanson, Progress Snapshot 4.20, October 1, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Which Way Will The Dollar Go?

Here's a glimpse into why the dollar is getting stronger. It's hard to say whether it will keep appreciating ... best to take a hybrid approach to globalization ... sprinkle it with imports, exports and a healthy dose of outsourcing. That way, no matter which way the dollar blows, you'll be poised to ride it out.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Global This, Global That

It ends up to be close to the book Globality. Poke around here a bit. I'm sure you'll find something that interests you or at the very least, maybe you'll start ignoring national boundaries with your business and become the black swan in the photo -- standing out from the crowds -- but on a worldwide basis.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Go Global On Thanksgiving

In case you ran out of food ideas for tomorrow's big day, here are a couple of grand global recipes under the very appropriate title of "Going Global On Thanksgiving."

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with more abundance than you can handle. And thank you for your readership. It inspires me to keep pushing forward and continue to offer you the best we can on global small business.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ways To Dodge An Economic Crisis

Here are 16 Ways to Dodge an Economic Crisis that we posted over at the OPEN Forum by American Express. My favorite is No. 16. And if you find the article useful, please say so with a click on the Yes button for that's the only way I know if you like my work -- many thanks!

To Go Global, Or Not To Go Global?

That is the question and reluctantly I answer with, "You should not go global when you do a lousy job selling a product or service locally."

The truth hurts but the folks at Harvard Business Review have just come out (December 2008) with a far more eloquent way of guiding us on When You Shouldn't Go Global. Unfortunately, to learn more, you will have to either buy the article online for U.S. $6.50 or go to your local bookstore to pick up a copy.

Here's one interesting point made in the abstract:
Global efforts can be rendered counterproductive through unanticipated collateral damage.
Bottom line: You don't want to move full speed ahead toward failure. The article could very well help you avoid missteps. Check it out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

From Rags to Riches: Slumdog Millionaire

Went to see what I consider a global masterpiece film last night: Slumdog Millionaire. It's set in Mumbai and is a cross between a timeless love story and the Mumbai version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

You have to see it to believe it. Worth exploring.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Branson Busts Borders

Haven't read this yet but love the title: Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur by Richard Branson. With 40 years of business experience, there has to be a lot to learn from Richard about being a global entrepreneur.

[Added 1/2/09 ... publicist sent us a link to preview Richard's book on a complimentary basis ... read it here.]

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Are You Happy About the Dollar's Rebound?

The weak dollar has been good for exports but now we have to go through a rebound. Are you lowering your expectations due to currency movements?

Let us know. In the meantime, catch CFO Magazine's, "The Dollar May Be Up, But Are you?"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Do Small Business, Globally

Ever wonder how can today’s harried entrepreneurs put up the kind of front that says, “We’re organized, we’re professional and we compete on a global level?” Me too.

Apparently virtual home office phone service provider toktumi has the answer and they are poised to change the way we do small business, globally.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Big Emerging Markets Matter

While en route to the World Entrepreneurship Forum in Evian, France, I read about eight different newspapers on the plane. One, the Financial Times, published a great article on Disney on how the studio is finding success in specifically targeting new markets.

One statement caught my eye:
The film’s success (referring to Roadside Romeo -- first animated movie aimed specifically at the Indian market) confirmed what Disney and its rivals in Hollywood have long suspected: Hollywood’s best prospects for growth are in emerging theatrical markets such as India, China and Russia.
And another point that relates to our blog:
“We’ve been very successful with our big global productions, such as Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure,” says Mr Reed. “But we think there’s a natural way to supplement these films in areas like China, Russia and India – areas that have built-in film traditions.”
Key takeaway: Tailor your message to the market.

Read the entire article, "Disney Indian Adventure Rewarded," here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Unleash Your Global Entrepreneurial Spirit

More than 75 countries around the world are launching the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Week (, November 17-23, 2008.

The brainchild of the Kauffman Foundation, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is an international initiative designed to inspire, inform, mentor, connect and engage entrepreneurs and to encourage them to "unleash" their ideas and solutions on a global, connected marketplace.

Find out more here, join in on the discussions, and spread the good global word.

U.S. Ranks High in Entrepreneurial Activity

As I highlighted in my last post, global entrepreneurial activity is quite alive and more vibrant than ever worldwide. This is especially true of U.S. minority businesses and their families (Korean Americans, Mexican Americans, African Americans, and a White American control group) offering these businesses a particular advantage and a means to not just survive but thrive.

Read more about this and other findings (for example, t
he percentage of early-stage entrepreneurial activity based on necessity has increased from 12.1% in 2005 to 15.6% in 2007. This increase may be due, in part, to the economic slowdown in the U.S.) from the “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2006-2007 National Entrepreneurial Assessment for the United States of America,” conducted by Babson College and Baruch College -- here or direct to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) -- here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Future Depends on Global Entrepreneurial Magic

After participating in The World Entrepreneurship Forum from November 13-15th in Evian, France, founded by EMLYON Business School (EMLYON Business School English), the leading European business school in Entrepreneurship, and KPMG FR (KPMG USA arm), the leading tax, audit and advisory services company, and global leader in entrepreneurship education Babson College (Boston, USA) who just joined the two founding partners in the organization of the event -- I have come to realize and totally be in awe that global entrepreneurship is very much alive and more at work than ever. Further, we have far more similarities than differences in our passion for building businesses regardless of whether one lives in U.S.A, Indonesia or The Republic of Cameroon (bordered by Nigeria).

Passion -- not necessarily profit (for example, if you love what you do, the money (profits) will follow at some point ... nearly everyone felt that way ... but you cannot sustain the growth of your business, especially during rough patches, without passion first) -- is the key to successful global entrepreneurial development and it ran deep (soulfully might be a better choice of words) within each of the 80 selected personalities representing 35 nationalities and segmented into four distinct profiles who each have an entrepreneurial role in society: entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, politicians, and experts. I was placed in the Entrepreneur category under The Free Market Economy (one of three ethos*). The picture above shows all members and was taken on the grounds of the Evian Royal Resort overlooking Lake Geneva and facing the Alps.

Here's a look at the agenda we covered for the two and one-half days but before I share that, here's the definition of entrepreneur according to the World Entrepreneurship Forum:

"The entrepreneur, creator of wealth and social justice."

Does that sound like you? If so, let us hear from you! And two questions that arose from that statement:

1. What is the best way of creating wealth?
2. What is the best way of creating social justice?

And here's a glimpse at the founder's vision:
"The future depends on entrepreneurs. They play a pivotal role when confronting the business and societal challenges we face today and in the future. Creators of value, promotors of values, they will actively contribute to the advancement of global social justice." ~ EMLYON Business School - KPMG, Founders of the World Entrepreneurship Forum
Now, to the agenda.

Day One

• The Entrepreneur, a key actor in the face of our world challenges.
• The many faces of the entrepreneur: introduction to the three ethos* (coordinated market economy, free market economy and the network-based economy) influencing entrepreneurs' behaviors.
• Topics, methodology and expected outcomes of the Forum.
• Key success factors for entrepreneurs across the three ethos (in other words, the character or ideals of a community of people).

Day Two


• Breakfasts segmented by Profiles (Entrepreneurs, Social Entrepreneurs, Experts and Politicians): Sharing and exchanging challenges and issues each profile faces in their respective business environment.

Early afternoon

The overall encompassing purpose was to formulate recommendations, develop content and format of future entrepreneurship education programs and issue proposals to have entrepreneurs behave fairly toward society

• Creating entrepreneurship-friendly business environments.
• Educating the next generation of entrepreneurs.
• Advancing the social commitment of entrepreneurs.

Late afternoon

• Facilitated discussion on the above three bullets.

Late evening

• Gathering to articulate the vision, mission and goals of the World Entrepreneurship Forum; liberation of the first conclusions drawn from the World Entrepreneurship Forum; and, announcement of the "Entrepreneur for the World" award (will tell you who won later).

Day Three (1/2 day)
• Feedback from the workshops and discussed conclusions from the previous two days of learning and sharing. Then we brainstormed about the Forum's impact and future (which included collectively formulating twelve recommendations to promote entrepreneurship worldwide) and went on to vote for "Entrepreneur for the World" 2009 award.

*More detail about this in a subsequent post.

I will report takeaways and highlight some of the members I met (a few are readers of our blog!) over the coming weeks for my notes are a mile long. Right now, I wanted to merely set the stage for what is yet to come. In between now and then, catch a different perspective on the Forum from two great media moguls Steven Strauss and Rieva Lesonsky who both participated at the conference. And catch Karen Kerrigan's report here.
More global entrepreneurial magic to follow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

World Entrepreneurship Forum - II

I plan to report on the World Entrepreneurship Forum (see all the coverage already up on it ... pictures ... videos) in a blog post either Sunday or Monday. Still in France and have been overwhelmed by the amount of collective genius shared by all the participants at the Forum but there has been absolutely no time to blog.

Much to write about but need substantial quality time to produce it. Look forward to providing my perspective on the Forum shortly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Forum of Young Global Leaders

The Forum of Young Global Leaders ( is a unique, multi-stakeholder community of exceptional young leaders who share a commitment to shaping the global future. Each year the World Economic Forum identifies 200-250 extraordinary individuals, drawn from every region of the world. Together, they form a powerful international community which can dramatically impact the global future.

Check out their website and watch the video to get an impression of the uniqueness of the community.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

International Trade Symposium

SBA will hold an International Trade Symposium in Nation's Capital on Tuesday, November 18. Part of what will take place:
Experts will educate small businesses on the resources available to help them export their goods and services. The symposium will begin with a panel of successful small business exporters who will share their stories and expertise on tapping into the global market. Valuable networking and counseling opportunities for small businesses interested in expanding their businesses through international trade also will be available.

Reducing barriers to trade is a significant way to help small businesses through the current economic downturn. With exports now accounting for a larger percentage of U.S. GDP than at any other time in history, expanding free trade is crucial for America's long-term economic health. Small businesses are playing an increasingly larger role in the U.S. export sector. The number of small and medium-sized exporters grew more than twice as fast as the number of large company exporters, between 1992 and 2003. This international trade symposium will enable small businesses to better understand how to take advantage of free trade and continue export growth.
Read more here.

World Entrepreneurship Forum

Preparing to attend the World Entrepreneurship Forum in Evian France from November 13-15. Read more about it here.

Blogging will be sporadic but I will do my best to report out. Eager to learn and share the different views of the world on global entrepreneurship and how it has become an economic and social force.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Exports Rock

The global economy may look dim but exports still rock for many entrepreneurs and small businesses. Read more here.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Call to Global Entrepreneurship

Unleashing global entrepreneurship could be the ticket to economic success my friends.
"All of us are hoping for something better, something different, a legacy we can leave to the next generation," said Tanny Berg, an Obama supporter who owns Jack Berg sales, an international distributor of electronics, and Epicenter El Paso, a shopping center and office development company.

"The status quo hasn't worked. We're in a deep recession and not particularly well-respected around the world, and our military might is being challenged in Iraq. I think Barack is the promise of maybe a different approach, at least tryable," Berg said. "It seems to me that more attention will be paid to small business - annual sales below $5 million - than under a Bush administration, where the emphasis seemed to be on larger businesses."
In this article, NAFTA and taxes are among the concerns of entrepreneurs. What are your thoughts?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Chinese Company Goes Global

We covered Lenovo's Worldsourcing blog during an Olympic-led marketing blitz and now the Lenovo Group Ltd., who used to be a little-known computer maker that sold only in China (they acquired IBM's PC business and that's what catapulted them onto a world stage), seems to be getting a little more traction these days with their global push but not without strife.

Cultural clashes (which we wrote about in general on how important it is to be positive towards cultures outside of your own) and power struggles seemed to really trip up their progress.

Read more about Lenovo's story here. Had a tough time finding the original WSJ article online.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Use Social Media To Grow Global

We've been saying this all along ... Wiggly Wigglers, a rural England-based natural gardening company, was awarded (U.S. $50,000!) by Dell and its global partners for its innovation and leadership in social media. Using tools like Facebook, podcasting and blogging, Wiggly Wigglers:
  • Serves 90,000 customers worldwide and delivers its products across Europe;
  • Cut its advertising budget by 80 percent when the company turned to social media over traditional advertising;
  • Facebook fans currently stand at 898, with over 170 discussion topics;
  • Hosts podcasts from the “Wiggly sofa” reaching thousands of listeners per week, and
  • Built its catalogue based on Wiki ideas generated on its Facebook page by experts and customers.
Read more about the Dell/NFIB Small Business Excellence in Customer Experience Award here.

What a wonderful example of how to use social media to grow your business globally. Congratulations to Wiggly Wigglers and all the other award recipients!

Build Global Bench Strength

Envision your success in 5 to 10 years and make sure whatever you are doing now that it's sustainable. CEO of Ingersoll Rand, Herb Henkel, shares some good tips on driving his firm through global territory.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


In case you are not a subscriber to our world famous Borderbuster e-newsletter (, we want to share point No. 7 of today's edition because a reader recently commented that she would like to see more ideas on strategy for taking a business global on this blog.

We will continue to meet or exceed your needs here. Thank you for your readership and for your great contributions! Keep them coming!

*Subscriber Exclusive*

Q: To Ask The Expert,

I am the V.P. of International Sales for an office supply manufacturer. Our products are not unique. Therefore, I have found it extremely difficult to export our products although I have done so in the past but on the basis of quoting a very low price with hardly any profit. I then attempt to make up for the per unit profit shortfall with volume orders.

I have always felt that if we price our products at “marginal costs” rather than at full cost, we would have a much better chance at continuing to increase our exports. Are you aware of studies on this issue? How can I intelligently address this point with the CEO of the company? I have approached him on this subject but I do feel if I had information to support my theory, I would have a better chance at changing his mind.

A: From Laurel,

Thank you for your question.

When you refer to “marginal costs,” I am assuming you mean “profit margin.” Also, it looks as if you believe that offering plastic alternatives overseas at a slightly lower price than your domestic selling price (full price) is the key to greater export success. For the record, exporters typically take a 10% to 15% markup over their manufacturing cost.

One of the first measures companies practice in order to remain competitive in the global marketplace is severe price-cutting tactics and oftentimes at the risk of operating at a loss. If you offer a price-reduction strategy merely as a knee-jerk reaction to a rough economic climate, over the long haul, it won’t work. You must develop an export action-plan that supports a process. You are already successful on your export initiatives. Now it is just a case of doing more of the same but with greater discipline and flair.

To build up your exports, start selling in new countries or territories; develop healthier relationships with your distributors and agents; create a more innovative and effective international sales and marketing strategy in general; request your staff takes on more responsibilities; sell more on open account with export credit insurance and work more closely with your credit manager.

The next step is to cut expenses. Here are eight ways to go about it:

1. Shift your production to a lower-labor-cost nation.

2. Cut production costs. Eliminate unnecessary employees and hire temps or contract out when you need to fill in.

3. Build your sales force according to the needs and demands of your overseas customers. For example, if your customers demand extra service, make sure they get it.

4. Reduce the U.S. content of your product to remain competitive overseas.

5. Use the best possible payment method. The one that works best is the one that gets the deal done.

6. Engineer financing from a variety of sources, including U.S. Export-Import Bank (

7. Work more closely with your transportation expert (consider going direct).

8. Use the Internet to increase efficiency.

If you put all of the above into play, you will be able to offer more favorable export pricing to your customers, increase your international sales and make your boss happy.

Good luck and let us know what happens.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

44th President of the United States: Barack Obama

World ... please join me in welcoming and congratulating our 44th President of the United States: Barack Obama.

10 Ways To Take Your Business Global

Our friend and colleague Dan Harris, who writes an informative blog (definitely check out) about law in China at the China Law Blog, posted about our recent radio podcast at the Small Business Trends Radio (hosted by Anita Campbell and Executive Producer Steve Rucinski), 10 Ways to Take Your Business Global.

A special thanks to all the folks at the Small Business Trends Radio and to Dan for his kind sentiments about our podcast on his blog.

Direct link to show post.
Direct link to audio file.

Monday, November 03, 2008


Amway is a health and beauty leader, operating in 78 countries and territories around the world and generating U.S. $6.8 billion in annual sales. What does this have to do with global small business? The company was started by two friends in Ada, Michigan.

It goes to show you that hard work can grow a business global. Read more -- and watch the compelling video -- on the fresh new push into GLOBAL for Amway here. And more about the ad campaign here ... even if it is a little late.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Celebrated Around the World

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays celebrated most commonly in the United States and around the world.

In the spirit of Halloween, here are two places to get spooked ... The 13th Gate Haunted House in Baton Rouge, La., and the other is in my home town Chicago: Dream Reapers Haunted House. Brace yourselves. They are both very creepy!

Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Develop Intercultural Curiosity

People constantly ask me if you need to be culturally sensitive in the global marketplace in order to be successful interacting with individuals from other ethnic, religious, cultural and geographic groups and the answer is "yes."

How do you develop that knowledge, skill or characteristic?

It's easier said than done but you can start by reading this article:

How Intercultural Competence Drives Success in Global Virtual Teams

You will walk away with a better understanding of how intercultural competency works and what it takes to develop it. Hint: Having a positiveness towards other cultures sure helps along the way! Be sure to review the Intercultural Competence for Team Leaders chart within the article. It offers up some powerful tips.

Case in point: The picture above reflects 3 units which is a good thing in China. But how sensitive are we really? What do the colors red, white and yellow symbolize in China? Or the illustrations? Or if there are English words on the bottle? Or a white bottle without any words? That's what cultural sensitivity is about. Put yourself in the shoes of whoever it is that you are communicating with to fully understand how your communication is being interpreted.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Set Yourself Apart in the Global Marketplace

This fascinating article talks about how Colombia wants the world to recognize its passion. And it is not indicative of just Columbia (check out the Embassy of Colombia). A growing number of countries are using branding strategies to set themselves apart in the global marketplace.

No matter what you are passionate about -- whether it's a country, a service or a product -- don't forget to highlight its advantages.

And by the way, Columbia's new branding strategy is: Columbia is Passion.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Live Event: 10 Ways To Take Your Business Global

Live, from your desktop, it's Small Business Trends Radio. Join me today at 1:30 p.m. EST at: where I will talk about reasons for going global, ways to get started, and places to look for help.

Look forward to connecting.