IHS Global Insight’s research in 12 countries on behalf of DHL Express in Woodinville, Wash., captured information about interest in international trade from 410 small- to medium-sized businesses with 10 to 249 employees. Forty-one percent want to open markets outside of their countries. Their greatest challenge when exporting arises from making contacts with international partners and/or an international customer base.
“The main finding of the study is that SMEs (small to medium-sized enterprises) that trade internationally are likely to perform better than their single-market counterparts,” reported Robert Mintz, manager, communications, at DHL. “Smaller companies need to think carefully about how they use their strengths (i.e., flexibility and niche products) and innovate through strategic partnerships and alliances to compete more effectively.”
If small to medium-sized enterprises have difficulty establishing international contacts, surely the same is true of businesses with fewer than 10 employees. While an extensive public relations campaign may open doors, it probably succeeds most when selling online.
Companies can find partners
Bilingual immigration attorney Andres Mejer, whose offices at Andres Mejer & Associates LLC are in Long Branch and Lakewood, N.J., had been watching for the opportunity to provide legal services in other markets. He’d had telephone and in-person conversations with South American business owners in need of immigration services.
“I realized many of them want or need these services but don’t know people they can trust,” Mejer said.
Then, three months ago, a business and tax attorney told Mejer he’d assisted a Venezuelan in relocating his business and family here, but that his own lack of Spanish impeded him.
“We realized that we had similar goals and complementary skills,” Mejer said, and an interest in high net-worth individuals immigrating from Central and South America.
Mejer said he is adjusting from serving a high volume of clients at low individual cost to a smaller number of affluent clients requiring individualized assistance. He said he anticipates increasing his gross revenue by a minimum of 30 percent during the first year and growing even further as his contacts abroad increase.
Opening an international market thrills business owners. Their small operations and limited resources need not deter them. They can develop their new customer base one person or entity at a time. Business people can do the same by keeping their ears open, remaining alert and not backing away, afraid that their size is a liability when opportunity begins to present itself. If carpe diem were ever a dictum, it surely is for a person opening a market abroad.
Atlanta’s Faruq Hunter directs GeniusCorps and is chairman of the board of directors of Genius Consulting LLC and GeniusCo Support Services LLC. Some years ago he heard a speaker on emerging markets recommend Kosovo as viable for market build-up.
“He then proceeded to explain that Kosovo was making an attempt to ascend to the European Union,” Hunter said. “This catalyst was sparking $500 million in IT investments in the next 10 years and there were less than eight IT companies with more than 20 employees.” At the time his business had three.
“I got connected to some good folks on the ground at the World Trade Center Atlanta and leveraged that network to identify trusted people who did international business,” he said.
He also recruited international connectors to serve on his advisory board.
Focusing on building relationships since that time, Hunter has done business in 60 countries. His experience only confirms that small operations like Mejer’s can do it.
Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2013 Passage Media.