Attention Business Leaders, Global Expansion Starts With You
Assuming a leadership role is no piece of cake, as leaders hold a huge burden to drive a business to success.
For business leaders with aspirations to “go global”, a key question is whether or not you have the right mindset to expand overseas. Your readiness and willingness to take the risk, to use your wings to fly beyond domestic borders, and to grasp the opportunities that are waiting for you will depend to a large extent on whether you have an international perspective or not.
A study in the Harvard Business Review showed that businesses whose leaders lacked an international perspective were timid about moving into new markets. They were fearful of the unknown, and failed to prioritise global expansion because they weren’t convinced that diversifying geographically was one of the key factors to their company’s growth and development. Those who realised the importance of global expansion and pushed their fear to the side have aggressively lead their business upwards and snatched market share before anybody else could. As a result of this, 60% of Apple’s fourth quarter revenue was attained by international markets. Also, Uber’s business deal with Starwood Hotels helped them cement their presence in over 100 countries.
To know whether you are on the right track to leading your business to international success, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions:
- Have I chosen my international partners wisely? If yes, are they the right ones and are they really helping me expand internationally?
- Have I allocated a chunk of my budget to invest online and use e-commerce to introduce my products and services to the world?
- Have I analysed and compared the international and domestic sales and marketing data to understand the international picture? Have I allocated a percentage of the marketing budget to move to a new market?
- What is my view on international markets? Do I see it as an opportunity or a threat? Do I see it as a strategic advantage and can’t wait to explore it further or am I hesitant about it?
- Are global customers integral to my business growth? Have I taken the extra mile to use global marketing to attract customers from all around the world?
- Am I taking international strategy seriously? Am I changing my organisation’s culture to a “global first” one? Is my team displaying a globally-minded attitude? Are they taking the international audience into consideration while working?
Answering “yes” to all the above means you are on right path to expanding your company globally.
As a business leader, you need to recognise the importance of travelling to diversify your knowledge about how business is done in different contexts. You must have the curiosity to understand the lives of others and what they value. Sometimes, you’ll need to take into account other people’s beliefs, because you might be surprised how many business opportunities you may miss if you don’t.
The world is full of new ideas and opportunities, and without the desire to be involved in evolving offshore markets, you’ll only leave a mark in your comfort zone and be left behind. Having a strategic, global perspective is crucial so that you understand how the business world works on a global scale.
Finally, you need to excel in your negotiating skills when doing business across regional boundaries.
Every carefully analysed risk a business takes depends on the decision-making of upper-management. Many leaders find themselves unprepared and fail to answer the question “when is the right time to internationalise, and what are the key elements needed to do it?” question. The fact is, preparation is a key factor to moving forward and It starts with encouraging corporate diversity in workforce management.
If you are a founder, a partner, or a CEO, do you know whether there are opportunities for your business in other countries? If so, which ones and why? Do you really understand the market and your offshore competitors? Are you open to understand how ready you are to expand? Many don’t realize the importance of internationalisation. Sometimes you need to open your eyes and see that if you grasp this chance, you could be number one. So, are you ready to bring your business to the world?
If you are a business leader and a small or medium-sized business looking to find a structured pathway into fast-growing international markets, check out the International Business Accelerator (IBA) coaching program here.
Author: Ghenwa Masri
Ghenwa Masri is a business development manager with experience in banking and professional services in the Middle East and Australia.