5 Mistakes to Avoid When Going Global

Last week we shared some top resources to build upon your international business expertise. There were at least two resources for each type of medium – from blogs to radio on demand – to help you engage with international business topics.

This week we revisit some sage advice from an interview with Becky DeStigter, on common mistakes companies make when entering global markets, and some thoughts on our experience bringing international conferencing to market.

Fear of intellectual property theft prohibits entry

Becky: The number one issue I’m seeing right now, particularly in technology companies, which is companies avoiding going to either international or to a specific market in order to protect their intellectual property.  And what’s unfortunate is it has the opposite effect.  It’s sort of like the burglar who goes down to your street casing houses.  They’re looking for the house that’s on vacation and not the people that are home.  So I think that’s a misstep that I often see.

Brad: Adigo entered the international market to provide a higher caliber of conferencing than what was being offered by current providers. The absence of the 13 critical capabilites (the no one home syndrome Becky spoke about) ultimately worked to our advantage in developing a superior level of international conferencing service to address these key capabilities. Sure, you need to be cautious, but don’t let fear keep you from capitalizing on the opportunity.

Contracts trump relationships

Becky: Second, I think is assuming that a contract is the basis for a business relationship overseas.  In many places, it’s not.  A personal relationship with your counterpart is actually the foundation and I would argue that that’s actually a stronger foundation and much more flexible as conditions in country change.

Brad: Totally agree. When setting up services involving such matters as establishing multiple carriers and access numbers for each country, identifying stakeholders and building relationships was key to our success.

A do-it-yourself mentality

Becky: The third misstep that I’ve seen is assuming that you need to do it all yourself, instead of partnering. You need to invest time in that partnering relationship, but it is a way to extend to other companies competitive advantages and make them your own.

Brad: Thinking back on the need for in-country line and number reliability, we learned that we couldn’t rely solely on technology involving automated testing. The complexity of disparate systems from country to country meant we needed to involve humans to ensure problems were not overlooked.

Buying (and usage) behavior is the same everywhere

Becky: And I would say fourth mistake companies make going global is in assuming that buying behavior is the same here as it is elsewhere.  A lot of companies look for that — that country list of GDP per capita, high-income countries, but behavior isn’t always the same.  For instance, I know a lady whose company designs handbags in New York City and she can sell a handbag in New York City for $400, but she can sell the same handbag in Japan for $800.  And actually, high-end fashion is the only recession proof industry in Japan, ladies fashion, high-end fashion. So I think that’s something to look at is the buying behavior.

Brad: For us it was about providing more than one option for participants in different countries to join a conference call. It wasn’t situation where one way fits all. And that’s because that way might not work in some countries. And so we identified and implemented 6 different ways to join a call with our international conferencing service.

Assuming that all things will stay constant

Becky: And finally, they assume that things will stay the same.  A few years ago, we would never recommend that anyone go to Central Europe.  It was a mess.  And now, we definitely see a great resurgence in that region.  So whatever you knew to be the case a couple years ago or even six months ago, may not be the case today. It’s good to revisit those conditions once again.

Brad: This is a great reminder for us all that things will and do change, especially when doing business or providing an international-based service. We are constantly monitoring call performance to minimize hiccups, and keeping tabs on international conditions to improve operations.

Where are you with going global? What obstacles or mistakes are you seeking to overcome? How have you met some of these or other challenges to enter an international or specific market?

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