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Going Global: It's Not If, But When

For many companies the complex and daunting task of operating globally is inevitable.

Today, the question isn't whether or not to go global, it's when to do it, where to start and how to do it right.

If you don't want to do it and you have a good brand or product, someone else will do it for you. There are plenty of opportunists that would be happy to take your idea or even a replica of your product into a new market, especially if you are having proven success at home.

There are a lot of ways to go global. Many companies partner with distributors that are already established to get product into the hands of the consumer. This isn't a bad practice and it's one that OtterBox has and still does use in some instances. However, in order to truly bring the brand to the global marketplace we knew we needed to be in-market.

Having a physical presence, at least in the region, allows a company to build its brand abroad using the same methods that helped it become a success at home. It brings a fast-growing, industry-leading brand back to its grassroots origins.

So if 'if' is out the window, 'when' becomes the important question. It's important to have your brand well established before venturing out across the globe. However, we live in a shrinking world. Chances are your company is already global. Do you have a website? Then you have a global presence.

In my opinion, OtterBox was a little late going global. The world has changed quickly in the last five years and being a global player is more important than ever. If I could go back in time, I would have started planning for our full-scale global presence sooner. Of course, if my hair wasn't already gray, taking on the challenge of going global probably would have gotten me there quickly.

The process is not easy and it's not inexpensive--at least, not if it's done correctly. There are many intricacies around where exactly to locate, how to staff and hire and how to infuse the company culture throughout all of its offices, no matter what side of the globe they are on. In the coming weeks, my columns will focus on learnings I've gleaned from the experience. OtterBox isn't "there" yet, but I believe we've laid the right foundation to build a strong global brand.

Last updated: Nov 12, 2012

CURT RICHARDSON | Columnist | Founder and CEO of OtterBox

OtterBox founder and CEO Curt Richardson created the first prototype of a waterproof case in his garage in the early '90s. OtterBox evolved into a leader in protective cases for mobile technology.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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