Which professional services do you need for international expansion?

Which professional services would you need while expanding business internationally?

There are many tactical needs you will face such as a translator, local lawyer, a good banking relationship, someone to take care of visa and passport formalities, etc… 

The most important professional service you will need are strategic advisors who are expert and local to the market you’re entering.

As recent example of why this is so critical, prior to working with us a client had been attempting to formulate a China-entry strategy with his US-based team. The strategy would never be successful because they were fundamentally cooking up just an overlay of their US strategy in another market.

It didn’t take crucial, China-specific factors into consideration.  The client simply didn’t know what he didn’t know. 

Our team was able to step in and work with the client to develop a China-relevant strategy that leveraged the pace of the market, rising competitive forces and government relationships instead of ignoring them. We even facilitated key introductions and our client is on a great path to success. 

The moral of the story is never to underestimate the importance of a genuinely local strategy.

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Will you be a global failure?

Does your company have the ability to enter new markets, develop new supply-chain models, and efficiently and effectively integrate as a global organization so that information can cross boundaries successfully?

In today’s global economy, every organization should be striving to achieve these, and other, aspects of cultural profit. But what steps do you need to take to make that happen?

The way to achieve cultural profit is to learn how to recognize, understand, and respond appropriately to different behaviors and worldviews. Becoming “culturally agile” in this way will allow you to work within various cultural contexts to achieve profitability, and will ultimately lead your company to be successful in competing markets.

Establishing an organization that’s culturally agile can make all the difference when it comes to cultural profit. Everyone in the organization must buy into this concept and work to become culturally agile, but it’s especially important to work on skills development with the people who are customer facing and working with cross-border teams. The results make an enormous difference, distinguishing companies that make huge belly flops from those that are smoothly running and have much greater success.

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Hall of Shame: Popchips and Ashton Kutcher

Start by watching this and you’ll understand the firestorm.

Popchips says in a statement that the “dating parody featuring four characters was created to provoke a few laughs and was never intended to stereotype or offend anyone.”

Really? Every single one of the singles is a cultural stereotype.

The Indian stereotype is at the heart of the firestorm, being called racist.

Tech entrepreneur Anil Dash calls the spot a “hackneyed, unfunny advertisement featuring Kutcher in brownface talking about his romantic options, with the entire punchline being he’s doing it in a fake-Indian outfit and voice…I can’t imagine I have to explain this to anyone in 2012, but if you find yourself putting on brown makeup on a white person in 2012 so they can do a bad ‘funny’ accent to sell potato chips, you are on the wrong course.”

The root of this failure is at the very first skill of cultural agility, self awareness.  Even a chip producer who seems to be marketing only within the US needs its employees to be culturally agile enough to recognize their own cultural biases.

Hiring a diverse team isn’t enough to safeguard against making these kinds of blunders because then you end up with a very small sample size, often a single individual, representing the biases of an entire cultural group.

Everyone on the team needs to have enough self awareness to recognize their own cultural biases and then make choices that are attuned to the larger market.

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