3 Answers That Will Help You Develop a Successful Global Business

Learn From the Experience and Expertise of Alison Larson

Alison Larson, Founder of World Blazer Consulting.

Founder of World Blazer Consulting, Alison Larson, knows a thing or two about how to sell a brand successfully overseas. After all, she spent more than 23 years developing global business for such esteemed companies as Carter’s and OshKosh B’Gosh. During the webinar “8 Critical Lessons to Ensure a Successful International Product Launch,” which Alison gave for Women Entrepreneurs GROW Global (disclosure: I serve as the President of WEGG), we discussed three specific questions that were asked by attendees.

These answers will help you develop a successful global business.

Should an Attorney or an Experienced Businessperson or Consultant Negotiate Contract Terms With a Prospective International Partner?

Answer #1: I believe that experienced international business people should be the ones to negotiate the business terms of international contracts. The lawyer serves to make sure that all business terms are legal, enforceable and protect the interests of the company.  

In the optimal situation, the lawyer and the business executive should work together and develop a standard contract which contains standard contract terms for export, licensing or whatever business model may be used. For each deal, the business person can then negotiate the business performance terms using the standard as the point of departure.  

If contract terms fall outside the “standard” contract terms, the lawyer can review the changes with the business executive, and if legal and enforceable, they can determine if the changes are fair and acceptable to the company.

Also, if the attorney is inexperienced with foreign countries, they will need to pass the final contract to an associate attorney from the country where you'll be doing business to determine whether it is legally binding in that country.

What Is the Difference Between a "Simple" Country and a "Complex" Country When It Comes to Doing International Business?

Answer #2: In order to determine whether a country is "simple" or "complex," first I look closely at its regulatory environment, bureaucracy and general ease of doing business.

Some countries have a trading environment that makes it easier to do business and some make it harder. Then, add in differences in culture, language and general business practices. A company trying to do business in a country with a completely different culture than its own will find it challenging to not only understand the different buying behaviors and consumer preferences of a market (and adapt its product accordingly) but also to communicate and conduct business effectively with prospective international partners in that country. 

Remember, all countries have their idiosyncrasies no matter how similar they may seem to you. Canada is considered to be the closest to the USA in terms of geography, culture, language (except in Quebec), consumer profile etc., yet there are still some profound differences if you research carefully.  Ask Target Canada!  (Note:  You must listen to Alison's webinar to understand this important point.)

What Is the Best Way to Approach a Prospective Distributor or Other International Representative If You Want to Do Business With Them?

Answer #3: If you are interested in contacting a potential company to represent you, my advice is to first make sure that you have a solid presentation about your company and business that you will share with the prospect.

This should include a company profile, brand or product information, photos of stores if you have any, your organizational structure and information about why you believe you would be successful in that market.  

You should do research on the prospect to find out everything about them and who the appropriate person to contact would be. Then, I suggest you reach out to that executive’s administrative assistant by phone (or send the letter in the language of the company if it is different from yours) and inform him/her that a presentation will be sent to his/her boss. Once the presentation is sent, you should follow up to make sure it was received. If it was and there is no response from the executive, you can try following up a week or two later. If you hear nothing, as sometimes happens, it may be an indication that the prospective company is not interested in a deal.

With that said, try again in six months or so because sometimes the timing just wasn't right and it may be right at a later date.

More Information

Listen to the webinar (no charge but you must register to attend) at: “8 Critical Lessons to Ensure a Successful International Product Launch.”

Download Alison’s free ebook at: “10 Critical Errors That Apparel Companies Make When Going Global.”