At gutowski & milner, we have a long history of leading & growing organisations that have an international flare – indeed, between the managing partners, we have more than 50 years experience in global business leadership.
As you can probably imagine, given our experience, we are always fascinated when we meet clients who either have no interest in growing their company on the international stage, or did not have the skills to grow outside their respective home market.
We will explore the many key reasons for growing beyond your organisation’s natural home market shortly, however, for us, it was always a “natural curiosity” of what is over the horizon that became the key driver for international expansion.
Now, we should be clear on something from the outset. There is a world of difference in our view between an enterprise that is constructed to serve the home market, & simply does some export business in addition to the core home market sales activity. As opposed to an organisation that embraces multiple cultures & is built on merit (irrespective of gender, physical location, race or creed), & has an appetite to explore & establish their “footprint” internationally.
With modern communication & collaboration tools, such as Microsoft 365 suite, Google Docs / Drive, Zoom etc, companies can easily & cost effectively be organised on a truly global basis, making the most from the best talents available throughout the world, at costs which are very competitive (especially, if you are based in a Western European or North American city!) The question is, why limit yourself to a talent pool of say 50km from your office, when you have the whole world to choose from?
In our view, successful international companies have the ability of building & sustaining global commercial strategies, which are then implemented (& importantly customised) locally – by local teams, knowledgeable of the local market / customs etc & speaking the local language.
Core elements of the business are set, decided & controlled centrally, & there should be no room for local comprise. Examples might include:
- Corporate identity
- Branding & design
- IT/ ERP systems
- Overall, Sales & Marketing strategies
The key business strategies are decided at HQ level, & then need to be “translated” into meaningful local implementation plans, by the local teams. Examples include:
- Local Marketing programmes / digital content
- Local web & social media content
- Localisation of selling materials
- Local Sales strategies
- Channel management & route to market
- Account Management
What is the rationale for creating an international enterprise? The key reasons include (but are not limited to):
- De-risking your business (no longer having “all of your eggs in one basket” so to speak), of being reliant on one single market.
- Scaling up & leveraging market share. Maximising economies of scale of your own processes, but also vendor relations.
- Gaining a better visibility as to competitors’ activities (outside your existing market), & anticipating market changes earlier.
- Your teams will automatically broaden their experience, & this will lead to an enriched workforce, which in turn could lead to exposing new opportunities that would previously not be visible.
Given the above, what are the potential downsides for an organisation to grow internationally?
Well, to start with, this change of direction for most clients takes time. Entering a new market, with an unknown brand is normally a mid/long term decision, & the leadership team need to be prepared to invest accordingly to establish the company in the new market.
You will need to find suitable foreign partners that are trustworthy, & depending upon the ambition / strategy, longer-term set up a local legal entity.
Also, any incumbent brands may take defensive actions to attempt to block you from entering the market. You will need to define your own local policy if this is the case (in our experience, the customers are normally not waiting for you to arrive!), & this could be dramatically different from that of the home market approach.
Finally, considering the potential pitfalls of growing your business on an international basis, it is the view of the authors at gutowski & milner that wherever possible, an organisation should adopt a strategy that includes an element of expansion outside the home market.
For more information please see Internationalisation page
Please feel free to contact us at https://www.gutowskiandmilner.com/contact-us/ as a first step with your plans for Internationalisation.