Many entrepreneurs want to expand abroad, only to find that doing business overseas has its own variables and challenges. Recently on my podcast, YPO 10 Minute Tips From the Top, I interviewed Mitch Presnick, the founder, former Chairman and CEO, and current board member of Super 8 Hotels China, about these very challenges and how to overcome them.
Presnick, a Brooklyn native and active member of the Young Presidents' Organization (YPO), founded the Super 8 brand in China, which has grown to 900 properties. He still directs their strategic growth today and was happy to share what he has learned about creating entrepreneurial success abroad.
1. It's All About the Timing
Most people looking to do business in a foreign country wait around for someone to point them in the right direction, but Presnick's advice is to get there early. He started his business 27 years ago when few others were heading over to China. Presnick did note that timing plays a key factor in success and you don't need to worry if you are not the first mover since new opportunities show themselves constantly. But he did have one major piece of advice: "You just don't want to be late."
2. Learn From Failure
Being successful abroad is not as simple as just showing up, setting up the business and then reaping the rewards. Presnick noted that he has been constantly on the look out for new business opportunities in Asia and even made mention of a few ventures in India and Macau. But not every venture leads to success and the ability to cope with failure is what differentiates the winners from the losers. Presnick recently had to shut down a Hong Kong venture but took it in stride. "Not all of my businesses succeed," he noted. "You let your winners run and you try to fail fast and learn something from it."
3. Think Collaboratively
Presnick noted that most people entering China come in thinking they need to bring something new. But he noted that the Chinese are better than expected at innovation so you may not be the savior you think. His advice? "The opportunity for the outsider then is to work collaboratively with them. To look at them as 'what can we do together' and not 'what can we bring to you."
4. Think About Giving, Not Getting
"If you go into a market thinking about what you can get from it, it becomes a zero-sum game," Presnick noted. He revealed that early on in his career, this was his perspective on doing business but has learned to shift that point-of-view into something that is more useful to everyone involved, including himself. "I've tried to make a shift over a number of years to asking a different question: 'What can I offer?' And that contribution mindset, combined with a little more compassion infused into what I do, has had a huge effect on my ability to maintain lower stress and that has had a very strong effect my business."
Each week on his podcast, Kevin has conversations with members of the (YPO), the world's premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.