Monday, March 31, 2014

Handling the Challenge of Going Global

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock
Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell faced challenges in taking his UK-business global but not so much that he gave up.  Huddle, established in 2007, is a business tool for project management and document collaboration that started out small and now serves clients such as Kia Motors, Porter Novelli and Procter & Gamble.

How did Huddle make the leap to going global and what did they learn in the process?  It requires a business owner to:  Develop a global mindset, maintain a teamwork across time zones, deal with red tape (nitty gritty) and understand your business before crossing borders.

Read:  Going Global:  How Huddle Handled the Challenge

Saturday, March 29, 2014

We're Exporting Stuff

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
“We're actually making stuff in America now. We're exporting stuff. We're inventing things." - Amy Klobuchar

Friday, March 28, 2014

How Many of the NASDAQ 100 Index's Companies Translate Their Websites?

One Hour Translation (OHT), a provider of machine powered, human edited translation and interpretation services, recently dug into the NASDAQ 100 to determine how many of the index’s companies translate their websites and marketing material into at least one language or more, which resulted in the following information:
  • Only 63% of index companies translate in at least one language
  • 45% of the companies translate their website into 7 or more languages
  • 51% of the companies translate their websites into Chinese, making it the most translated language worldwide; the 2nd most translated is Japanese (48%)
With the world becoming smaller due to the interconnectivity feature the Internet provides, more small businesses will cautiously begin to translate their websites and marketing material in order to sell to the world and compete on a global basis.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Who's Worth Following on Twitter About E-Commerce?

Ajeet Khurana, serial entrepreneur, educator, mentor, and angel investor, writes a strong piece on who's worth following on Twitter when it comes to providing expertise in international e-commerce.

Read:  10 International Ecommerce Experts Your Business Should Follow on Twitter.  We, of course, are partial to Ajeet for mentioning one of our favorites, John Yunker (@JohnYunker)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Biggest Growth Year of Your Life?

For many small business owners, their biggest growth year can come from new customers, a new product launch, an acquisition, exporting, importing or licensing.

For others, like Simon Cohen, founder of Global Tolerance, his biggest growth year came when he became a father.  And with the birth of his daughter, he has decided to give away his company which is worth up to $1.8 million.  Anyone can apply.  All details are outlined in a Q&A session on the company website.

Think I am kidding?  Read:  Global Tolerance founder Simon Cohen gives away company worth up to $1.8 million

If you are an entrepreneur with an understanding of what global leadership means and are ready to re-start a perfectly good company, apply.  Description of the position can be found here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Promise, Challenge and Opportunity of Free Trade

Digital Vision/Thinkstock
What's there to be pessimistic about on free trade?
The default position portrays trade deals as a threat to American jobs and wages, exposing our economic weaknesses to the world, rather than as opportunities to grow our economy and maximize our strengths.
Find out what Thomas F. 'Mack' McLarty has to say with his opinion piece published at The Wall Street Journal.

Read:  Why Democrats Should Back the President on Free Trade
(Love the 1993 photo in this piece with Larry King, Al Gore and Ross Perot.)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Companies Don't Need Scale to Trade Internationally; They Need International Trade to Scale

Kati Suominen is founder and CEO of TradeUp Capital Fund, a new equity crowdfunding platform for globalizing companies, and of Nextrade Group, LLC, a consulting firm on leading-edge issues in trade. She is also Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Adjunct Professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and amid authoring her 10th book, on the future of globalization.

In the article, "Trading Up:  Being Small and Going Global," Kati Suominen says:
"No longer do companies need scale to trade; they need trade to scale. The next generation of exporters will be “born global companies.” Investors should pay attention to this outperforming asset class." 
She goes on to say that as the economy rebounds, companies around the world are seeking growth through exports.

Read the entire important article here.

Full disclosure:  I serve as a partner at TradeUp Capital Fund and on the Board of Directors; Kati serves on our Board of Advisors at  We think she is brilliant.  And you'll agree when you read her article above.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Angels Breathing

©2013 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.  And why shouldn't it be? - it is the same the angels breathe." - Mark Twain, "Roughing It"

Photo:  Navy Pier, Chicago

Friday, March 21, 2014

LFGSM: Improving the Competence, Confidence and Ability of Working Professionals and Organizations

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney. All rights reserved.
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney. All rights reserved.
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney. All rights reserved.
Yesterday, I had the wonderful pleasure to visit Lake Forest Graduate School of Management (as shown above) where I am an alum and earned my MBA (1991).  It was great to reconnect with John Popoli, President and CEO of LFGSM and to meet Peter Drummond, Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Sales.

One of the points that came out of our discussion is the importance of education in one's life in order to be fit for life.  LFGSM gave me the tools, resources and knowledge to take on the world and after I graduated, and it was up to me to take action.  And I did.

If you are thinking about getting an MBA, I suggest you take a look at LFGSM's program (there are many options for learning, including online):  If you pay a visit in person, be sure to mention my name.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

92 Best for the World Businesses With the Biggest Social Bottom Lines

How do you measure what matters for a business?  It's called achieving B Corp status.  B Corp status means a firm has committed to meeting the nonprofit certifying organization’s high social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency standards.   Companies such as Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's have fit the bill.

Obtaining B Corp status is tough:
The measurement tool looks at three categories: a company’s environmental footprint, as defined by its products, manufacturing, and supply chain; its community impacts, including hiring diversity and charitable giving; and its treatment of workers, including benefits, pay, and training programs.
Read the article:  The Best Businesses For The World in 2014

Review the list:  Best Businesses for the World 2014

Go straight to:  2014 Best for the World Overall Honorees

I leave you with this:  How big is your social bottom line?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) Program 101

What's all this talk about STEP?  Let's first start with what it stands for:  State Trade and Export Promotion Program.  It is a three-year pilot program offered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that aims to provide entrepreneurs and small business owners a way to boost their businesses through exports. In other words, raise the dollar level of your exports.

What can STEP do for you?  Find out below.

What is the STEP Program?

Related article:  Take a STEP Up to International Trade

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How To Be a Role Model in Global Business Ethics

Can you do well while doing good on a global scale?  I like to think so, especially if you have a global mindset that values honesty, hard work and integrity.  And renowned expert in business ethics and International Scholar Rev. Oliver Williams, C.S.C. thinks the same.  He:
will be speaking at Stonehill’s Martin Institute on Monday, March 24th at 7 p.m. as part of its two-year theme on Environmental Justice, Sustainability and Economic Development. The title of his talk will be “Can You Do Well While Doing Good?”
Learn more:  Business Ethics Expert Rev. Oliver Williams, C.S.C. to Speak at Stonehill

Related articles:

Diversity and Ethics, Keys to Corporate Success:  Interview with Global CEO Skanska

Ethics Must Be Global, Not Local

How to Address Differences in Ethical Standards and International Business

Business Ethics in a Global Marketplace

Zimbabwe: Ethics - a Powerful Intangible Asset

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day Across the Globe

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved. 
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved. 
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved. 
©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
St. Patrick's Day is my favorite day of the year (see past posts here). Above are pictures from the Chicago's St. Patrick's celebration Saturday, March 15th when the Chicago river is dyed green as part of the festivities.  If you look closely at the top photo, you can see the dye absorbing into the water.

Have a great day and remember, everyone is Irish on St. Patty's Day! All it takes is a wear'n of a bit of green, a smile and a twinkle in the eye.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Modern Day Miracle: Dyeing the Chicago River Green

Can't wait to see the dyeing of the Chicago River green today (3/15/14) at 9:30 a.m. Central Daylight time.  After that, it's off to see the parade at noon.  I hope I see you there!

More information can be found at:  Chicago's Saint Patrick's Day Parade

Friday, March 14, 2014

How to Localize Your Web Marketing Strategy to Enter China

Are you eager to push your products and services into the Chinese market?  According to Gordon Choi, the first thing to do is to localize your web marketing strategy.  Here are ten ways to do it.

Read:  10 Ways to Localize Digital Marketing in China

Meanwhile, you might want to visit Alibaba's latest foray into helping SMEs do business in China (not quite ready for launch yet but they are working on it): - PDF guide here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

eBay Boosts Exports for 90,000 British Businesses

Digital Vision/Thinkstock
eBay is on a mission to help 90,000 UK retailers and suppliers trade internationally.

To boost exports, eBay plans to create shops on overseas eBay sites allowing British businesses to hopefully, sell to millions more shoppers across Europe.
The site has translation tools to breakdown language barriers and paired with the global payment system, Paypal, will help UK retailers trade in different currencies. 
Read the entire article:  eBay to export 90,000 British businesses

Note:  Mountain Warehouse, an outdoor pursuits retailers, claims to have used eBay's network successfully.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Finance Pointers for Importers

When you run a small business, it's best not to put all your eggs in one basket.  Diversification is the key to weathering economic head winds that come your way.  As you grow, consider exporting to boost revenues but don't forget about importing.  Importing can help you expand your existing product line without a big capital investment.

Read:  Top finance tips for importers

Related article:  6 Ways to Save Money Importing

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

From Home Business to a $3 Million Global Business

Jellaine Ross, designer and founder of Brisbane, Australia based Cherry Blooms, talks about how to take your business global.  Cherry Blooms designs bag organizers, shoe clips and brush on eyelash extensions.

Quick snippet:
She founded the business in 2008, and started by selling her products at the local markets in Brisbane. Today, she has transformed Cherry Blooms into a global success. Her products have been featured in the Golden Globes and Oscars swag bags, and are sold online and stocked through 1,000 retail stores across the world.
Read the entire article:  How to take your business global

Monday, March 10, 2014

Hedging Against Foreign Exchange Fluctuations

Regardless of payment method, keep the international payment process simple. Transacting business in multiple currencies spanning several countries might be beneficial to a big operation interested in hedging against currency fluctuations, but for a small business, if not managed well, it can hurt the bottom line. It’s best to negotiate terms in your country’s currency because fluctuations in foreign exchange markets can significantly impact on a businesses profits.

Further, hedging against foreign exchange fluctuations can be confusing and expensive – particularly for SMEs.  Enter:
Kantox, a peer-to-peer (P2P) platform for business foreign exchange, matches companies who want to buy and sell foreign currency, allowing them to bypass expensive bank and broker fees.
Here's how it works:
... you are a company located in Europe, importing goods from China and paying your Chinese provider in US Dollars. In the Kantox marketplace, you can find another company, located in Europe, exporting goods to the US who has US Dollars to sell in exchange of your Euros.
Learn more:  Helping SMEs deal with fluctuations in foreign exchange markets

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Most Beautiful Great City Left in the World

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world." - Frank Lloyd Wright

Friday, March 07, 2014

Opinions Matter in the Global Marketplace

Companies who ignore customer feedback risk their very survival.  As the late Theodore Levitt once said, "One of the surest signs of a bad or declining relationship is the absence of complaints from a customer.  Nobody is ever that satisfied, especially not over an extended period of time.  The customer is either not being candid or not being contacted.  Probably both."  (Source:  Theodore Levitt, "After the Sale is Over ...," Harvard Business Review, September 1983,

Enter Irish company Instant Opinion with its QnA product that offers a private and secure way to capture event interaction in real-time.  And, they've allegedly gone global with contracts secured, for example, with the Canadian government and the NUI Maynooth Innovation Value Institute (IVI) Spring Summit in New York.

What's QnA do?

It's a tool that enables you to capture both positive and negative customer feedback and deal with any issues before they get shared with the world.  Further:
Because the system is real-time, the service provider can respond and react to this feedback immediately, resolving the issue for the customer and ensuring that the customer leaves happy.
Oh how Professor Levitt would love this.

Read more:  Irish Company Instant Opinion's real-time engagement product goes global

Visit:  Instant Opinion

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Go With Your Product or Service Wherever You Have To in the World

How high-end, and handmade in USA, shoemaker Allen Edmonds exports all over the world through the FedEx network.  The company was established in 1922.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

How to Take a Small Business and Turn It Into a Global Powerhouse Worth Millions

We all have dreams but how do you turn a dream into a reality? Take Huddle CEO Alastair Mitchell, who runs a company that went from being a British sensation to a global corporation over the past seven years.
Huddle is a business-grade tool for project management and document collaboration that started out small and now serves the likes of Kia Motors, Procter & Gamble, and arms of the U.S. and U.K. governments.
Back in 2007, Huddle was a bedroom startup with a team of two. (Note:  This is Mitchell's third Internet startup.)  How did it grow to more than 150 employees operating in four different cities and worth millions?

Read the entire article:  Going Global:  How Huddle Handled The Challenge

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Gear Up Retailers! Ecommerce Will Become the Platform of Choice in 2014

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock
In the article below for Pitney Bowes eCommerce Solutions, I write about how commerce is the ticket to a more prosperous future.  Here’s why.

Read the entire article:  Retailers, Gear Up for Explosive Growth in Ecommerce in 2014

Monday, March 03, 2014

Selling Goods Overseas Is Easier But Still Challenging For Small Businesses

While selling goods overseas is easier due to the Internet and the vast amount of information available on the subject (including this blog), it's still hard for small businesses to get paid on exports.  This is the #1 challenge for small businesses.  (Here is an article worth reading and re-reading:  An Insider's Guide to Making Payments and Getting Paid on Overseas Transactions).

Read the entire article:  Small Business:  The Cost of Expanding Overseas (

Note:  Laurel is mentioned in the WSJ article along with new her new book!

Saturday, March 01, 2014

The Dignity of Movement of an Iceberg

©2014 Laurel J. Delaney.  All rights reserved.
"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows.  The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water." - Ernest Hemingway