A recent survey of about two dozen entrepreneurial companies that have gotten involved in the international marketplace detected some interesting trends. Inc. found that on the international front, U.S. companies are plagued by the same type of financial problems that preoccupy their domestic operations: especially, how to minimize taxes, collect accounts receivable faster, and price more effectively. Unfortunately, many complained that they were being let down by the U.S. government -- a common refrain was, "They don't worry about the little guys" -- as well as by their financial advisers. (For tips on how to get better international-insurance advice, see "How to Find the Right International Broker," [Article link].) Here's how some of the companies surveyed were coping:
Where company gets international financial advice
Zack Bergreen, ASTEA International Software developer, $17 million; Chalfont, Pa.
Has sales affiliates in Europe, Australia
Big Six accounting firm and law firm specializing in international finance
Collections are often delayed up to 100 days: "It's my biggest challenge." Prices are 20% higher than in the United States
Tom Mosey, D&K Enterprises Children's book manufacturer,$3.5 million; Carollton, Tex.
Exports to Europe, Latin America, Canada
U.S.-based CPA (sole practitioner)
Fluctuating exchange rates: "The British pound dropped 50¢ and I lost 25% of my profit margin." Hedges risks with currency futures
Donald Soults, Routing Technology Software Software manufacturer, $7 million; Vienna, Va.
Has joint venture in Hong Kong and subsidiaries in Europe and South Africa; has export arrangements elsewhere
Big Six CPA firm
Inadequate financial advice: "We have to learn on the fly because even these guys don't have all the answers." Consults with other U.S. companies involved in his markets
Alan Larson, Energy Dynamics Electrical-generator manufacturer, $14 million; New Berlin, Wis.
Exports to Far East, Latin America
Banker (local CPA handles only tax forms; CEO relies on bank to help his company benefit from government-sponsored programs as sales grow)
Lack of support from government: "Eximbank only helps GE."
-- Researched by Christopher Caggiano, Michael P. Cronin, and Vera Gibbons* * *