Why You Should Scale Your Global Business

How to Overcome the Two-market Plateau

I had the great opportunity to present and moderate a panel on “Why You Should Scale Your Global Business” for the American Express Grow Global event held in Chicago June 25, 2015, at the Peninsula Hotel. I focused on two key points for my talk -- Why business owners plateau after penetrating two markets and how to avoid the two-market plateau. Here’s the drift on the presentation. 

The facts.  According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, less than one percent of America’s 30 million companies export.

Yet U.S. exports reached a record $2.3 trillion in 2013 and support a record 11.3 million U.S. jobs  (Source:  http://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2014/02/us-exports-reach-23-trillion-2013-set-new-record-fourth-straight-year).  What that tells us is that there is a whole heck of a lot of room for growth when it comes to doing more, not less of exporting! Companies are exporting, but they are not doing enough of it.

Reasons companies plateau.  

  1. Changes in the marketplace (e.g., a strong dollar).
  2. Competitive heat – too many players in your space.
  3. Stretched too thin – not enough human or financial capital.
  4. Organizational issue (e.g., you, as a leader, could be holding the company back).
  5. Inability to scale – you can’t produce big volume on anything.
  6. Mind set – limited, nowhere near what it should be for global growth.
  7. Avoidance – turning a blind eye to anything that requires real effort or a challenge that needs to be dealt with.
  1. Uncertainty (e.g., in the marketplace).
  2. Resist making a change (“we’ve-always-done-it-this-way mentality”).
  3. Lack of funding – ideas are everywhere but dollars to back them up are scarce or missing.
  4. Regulatory issues – too many rules, regulations and red flags to work through or navigate around.

How to avoid the two-market plateau? The key is to continually keep learning, growing, improving and advancing.

You must develop a global mind set and be in the global readiness state. Always prepare for the next stage of global growth.

One of the key elements I have found that works is this: Create a real sense of urgency – a distinctive attitude and gut-level feeling that leads people to grab global opportunities, makes something important happen across borders today and moves faster and smarter, NOW.

What other factors are critical for avoiding the two-market plateau?  

  1. Execution is key.
  2. Strengthen your people, go-to-market strategy, logistics, payment and other value-add supply chain activities.
  3. Get a companywide commitment.
  4. Create a sense of urgency.
  5. Be ambitious but also be ready.
  6. Move into markets where you are comfortable (no language or regulatory barriers, for example).
  7. Tap into countries where Free Trade Agreement are in place.
  8. Tackle no-brainers … pay attention to key introductions and act on them.
  9. Master mergers and acquisitions.

Benefits to growing and scaling for global growth.  

  • Increase sales.
  • Enhance your image.
  • Generate economies of scale.
  • Raise your profitability.
  • Broaden your intellectual horizons.
  • Explore previous untapped markets.
  • Sell excess domestic capacity.
  • Insulate seasonal domestic sales by finding new markets.
  • Outmaneuver competitors.
  • Improve your return on investment.
  • Create jobs.
  • Enrich our country (support our National Export Initiative!)
  • Travel to places you have never been to before.
  • The “cool” factor (“Hey, I’m global!”).

How to break through the two-market plateau if you have already hit the wall? Get out of your own way! Lead growth. Don’t block it.  

Ways to lead growth?   

  • Importing/exporting (direct/indirect/online/e-commerce) and this can be a product or a service.
  • Product sourcing/contract manufacturing/outsourcing.
  • Other: Franchising, joint-venture, partnership, wholly owned subsidiary, merger, acquisition or branch office.  

International Data Corporation (IDC) projected that the "Internet of Things," the industry term for this web of connected products, will generate $1.7 trillion in spending by 2020 -- an astonishing number considering it was almost nonexistent five years ago. Do you really want to be in only two markets?

The key question becomes: Are you ready to break through the plateau?

For access to the presentation, visit: “Why You Should Scale Your Global Business” (http://www.slideshare.net/ldelaney/american-expressdelaney62515ppt).

Photo Credit: Lumaxart 

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