Growing your business by going global

The Global Perspective
"For under the equator, and on both sides of it, for the distance taken in by the movement of the sun, there lie great deserts parched with constant heat. . . . But when you have traveled farther, gradually everything grows more gentle: the climate is less harsh, the land pleasantly green, the animals more mild. Eventually you meet peoples, cities, towns. In these there is constant commerce by land and sea, not merely among themselves and their neighbors, but also with far distant countries."

-- Sir Thomas More, Utopia, 1516

* * *

"All too often, ostensibly open European markets actually impose tough barriers. Europe is not a market that rewards a better mousetrap. Rather, it first does everything possible to keep the new mousetrap out, then it lays down rules for what a mousetrap must do, and finally, it builds its own."

-- Andrew Hilton, "Mythology, Markets, and the

Emerging Europe," Harvard Business Review,

November/December 1992

* * *

According to a recent Inc. survey of 298 fast-growing private companies with international sales, 47% claimed that less than 10% of their overall revenues came from international trade; 37% claimed international trade revenues were from 10% to 25% of overall revenues; and 16% claimed international trade accounted for more than 25% of overall revenues.

"Reading about one . . . successful farmer made me realize how ill equipped most farms I knew were for adjusting to the international world of modern agriculture. Here is an Ohio farmer [as described in the Wall Street Journal in the fall of 1984]: 'A globe on his desk is a reminder that he must think of worldwide supply and demand, of distant politics and climates. These global factors figure strongly in his marketing now that America faces greatly heightened competition for world grain trade. Successful farmers today must have international savvy. The Richards family does. Dinner table talk is as apt to dwell on Brazil's weather as Ohio's. [They] subscribe to the Financial Times of London. Their bathroom reading is a magazine called International Economic Indicators.' "

-- Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

(Ticknor & Fields, 1993)

* * *

"We imagined that everyone in Taiwan made cables, that we'd get off the plane and they'd run to see us," says Randy Amon, cofounder of $4.2-million ABL Electronics Corp., in Hunt Valley, Md., recounting his search for overseas suppliers. "But the companies we thought we'd see were on vacation. So we wrote our hotel name, room number, and the words cables and $30,000 on the back of our business cards and slid them under doors." Amon's phone rang at 3 a.m. The following day he ordered $30,000 worth of cable from the caller.


This Month

Market Intelligence

With more than 27 million potential customers just over the border, and all trade tariffs slated to expire by 1998, the business opportunities in Canada abound. ([Article link])

Company Profile

Dennis Gillings wanted to make Quintiles Transnational Corp. committed to open and constant communication among employees -- a place where managers had autonomy but were dedicated to working with one another to get the job done. By using technology and management savvy, he's doing just that in five countries. ([Article link])

On the Road

Terrors of negotiating Collection nightmares Jet-lag cures The world's slowest payers ([Article link])