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.