Should Your SME Expand Internationally?
Part 3 of 3
With Social Media, Linkedin, Google, and Skype, you don’t NEED to just be a domestic company anymore. Technology has created an environment in which we don’t need to be limited to physical space anymore. We need to find how to explore international markets.
What makes Canada great is what will make us SUCCEED…
Canada is a great place that accepts people like me and allows us to call it home and become part of this land. It is an incredibly unique place in this world. As such, its population hails from some of the fastest growing markets in the world. The knowledge-base and relationships are ALREADY HERE if companies want to explore that. Canada on its own has an extensive and under-utilized population.
While many western CEOs are followed internationally, most westerners don’t think to follow CEOs from other nations like India, Dubai, China, Turkey, etc. All have businesses that are worthy of being followed. There is a sense that we are leading – the flawed sense that we don’t need to know what other businesses are doing, no matter how good they may be because we are already doing it right.
This doesn’t help us to understand what good things are happening in the world and familiarise us with helpful company experiences and thinking. This makes us ignorant to other successful businesses that have an incredibly valid story and think in a unique way that westerners might not see.
How to Expand & Protect Your SME
Utilize the connections and options available with modern technology (for instance, using LinkedIn and Google for research while using Skype for communications). More importantly, Canadian human rights policy and immigration policy means that the diaspora in Canada is a great source of knowledge and relationships that people can build upon.
SMEs can mitigate their risks and fears of the unknown by better utilizing certain operating models that are now universal. These models include things like licensing agreements, franchising opportunities, distribution networks, agency representations etc. These are already existing business models that SMEs can use in partnering with companies in other countries to hedge risk and minimize potential losses while still garnering a decent return.
The Right Direction
US companies are going East, but Canadians are going to America – and I have to ask Why? If 700,000 businesses go up for sale in the next 10 years, how many jobs will that take?
The point is that people aren’t thinking in the right direction. SMEs in Canada need to be asking themselves questions like, “How can we utilize the global marketplace to gain more clients & more customers?”
In the last 8 years, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel visited China 7 times. In that same time, the Canadian prime minister has gone only once.
GM is shutting down its manufacturing plant in Ontario. The PM of Ontario and Mayor of Toronto are still going to the US to lobby for more businesses in industries that are archaic and generate great losses. See for yourself how many times Boris Johnson – the mayor of London, U.K – has stepped foot in Dubai, India or China.
What to Do if Your Government Isn’t Acting
If your government doesn’t have a trade relationship, there’s no reason that you still can’t develop your own contacts and your own relationships until it does. Why wait on the higher powers? We must work on the premise that either governments are at the forefront of business and innovation or that we must go forth and forge our own path. There is plenty of legal protection available to businesses which ensure Canadian companies are protected.
Large Companies are Already Doing It
Today BMW, VW, Mercedes, Ford etc. are all manufactured in India and China. An Indian company owns Jaguar. Warner Brothers, Fox Movies and Universal are all making movies in India. Bloomingdale’s only branch outside of New York City is in Dubai.
Names like Saks Fifth Avenue and Tiffany’s are common in these overseas markets. It isn’t just consumer brands. Institutions such as HSBC, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, Goldman Sachs, Standard Chartered have been in those markets for years. Other companies like GE, KBR, Exxon and Halliburton are also benefiting from the ever-growing markets in the east. Why aren’t Canadian SMEs?
The era of large scale business creating thousands of jobs intended as life-long careers is over. That practice is unsustainable, archaic and high risk. Large projects create big jobs but also lay off big numbers at the earliest sight of problems. We witnessed with the automotive industry and players like Target.
The new wave of employment in SMEs will include:
- Business that are quick to react and evolve.
- Companies with active managers who have skin in the game.
- SMEs with a focused humane vision.
- Teams that value creative vision over some arbitrary “bottom line”.
The choice has really been taken out of SMEs hands already. What we are left with?
Either we accept the new reality and do what we can to move forward – to use international expansion to grow into emerging markets; or we remain shackled to the old mentality and way of thinking which will cause SMEs to fall apart in an archaic, antiquated world.
Looking for ways to expand internationally? Feel free to contact me via the contact page on this website.
Have you had experience in emerging markets? Share your experiences in the comments below!