Success Strategies for Global Expansion: Including Hot Markets in 2018

Global Expansion: I’ve seen too many companies go at it the hard way. They decide they’re going to expand globally and then try to go it alone. They don’t start by trying to find out what they don’t know. They don’t look at how other companies succeeded and failed. You can save yourself a lot of agony if you learn from the experience of others.

IKEA is an excellent example of a rocky start to expansion. When IKEA first entered the United States in 1986, people loved the design of the furniture but felt it was too tiny for American living spaces. IKEA’s (literally) one-size-fits-all approach, which works well throughout Europe, needed to be adapted in the US market, which wasn’t as easy as it might sound.

IKEA redesigned the furniture, but then it also had to reimagine the warehouses where the furniture would be stored and the retail spaces where it would be sold. Everything had to get bigger.

IKEA made a mistake many companies make: It thought that what worked in one country or culture would translate to another one easily.

Executives must start by asking and answering two vital questions as they form their expansion plans:

  1. What kinds of markets make sense for us?

What are the characteristics of markets where we’re more likely to be successful? Further in, I’ll give you a list of things to consider, but the fundamental question will stay the same. Analyze your company, with your strengths and weaknesses and experience. Consider your strategy. Then look for markets where you’re more likely to succeed.

  1. What’s a reasonable level of risk and reward for us?

Companies have different tolerances for risk. They have different expectations of reasonable Return On Investment (ROI). And remember that for most global expansions you should expect ROI to increase as you do businesses successfully in a new country.

Here are a few of the hottest markets to consider in 2018:

Malaysia

Singapore is still a booming market, but its less well-known neighbor, Malaysia, has been named the number one place to invest by US News Report. Real estate opportunities abound, and there is well-educated, multi-lingual, workforce. Additionally, the government is foreign investment-friendly creating incentives and eliminating barriers to doing business there.

The Czech Republic

$125 billion has been invested in the Czech Republic over the last 20 years. The government offers training and job-creation grants, and the workforce is young, dynamic, and multilingual. Many tech companies are expanding there, too.

Sub-Saharan Africa

If you’re looking for moon-shot growth potential — and have a huge appetite for risk — then an attractive area might be the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is abundantly rich in commodities such as oil, natural gas, copper, iron ore, and gold. Governments are becoming more stable. And, the area has the youngest workforce in the world.

More Traditional Markets

Many companies are still expanding to cities in what we consider traditional markets: Ireland, Denmark, and Canada. These are markets are “easy” in that they hold more available and modern infrastructure, and there are large, hungry talent pools.

And, of course, there is the United States, which is still the world’s largest economy. In my book, Market Entry in the US: Why European Companies Fail and How You Can Succeed, my co-author, Ralf Drews, and I connect the buying psychology driven by American beliefs and values with a company’s go-to-market strategy. Remember: The cultural values of a particular country and region have a profound impact on the business environment.

As you consider global expansion for your organization, bear in mind: The “hot” market of today won’t stay that way forever. You have to decide if the market is right for you. You should analyze several critical issues for every market you consider.

Take these actions first before expanding globally:

Do your due diligence and market research.

Use all the sources and all the tools at your disposal to learn as much as you can about yourself, your company, and the market you’re considering.

Travel to the location to which you’re expanding.

 Reading is not enough. Video helps but isn’t sufficient. You won’t get a real feel for the place you’re considering unless you go and spend some time. And, when you do go, don’t just talk to other businesspeople who are staying at your hotel. Get out and spend time with local people and listen to how they describe their country and its business climate.

Do something different.

I don’t know what that will be for you, but you will. Make it something beyond what we’ve talked about here. Come up with a way that is uniquely yours to learn more about the country where your company may expand. Only you can come up with something that fits your style, your organization’s corporate culture, and helps you understand this new country and its culture.

Have questions about planning global expansion for your company? Here are some additional ideas. Need more? Contact me.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Image Credit: https://www.pexels.com

Women, Don’t Be Too Busy to Lead!

Three Ways Women Can Rise to the Challenge of Leadership

In her speech at The 2018 Golden Globes, Oprah said that things are changing. Girls have more women role models, and there are more examples of leadership to follow. Actors like Reese Witherspoon and Elizabeth Banks have created and head film production companies, knowing that their roles are limited if they leave up the casting and directing up to others. Michelle Williams brought #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke, with her to The Golden Globes, and Meryl Streep brought Ai-Jen Poo, the founder of The National Domestic Workers Alliance. Geena Davis heads an institute focused on gender bias in the media, continually reminding us where our blind spots are with regards to gender equality.

After hearing the powerful messages delivered around the world by leading women in Hollywood last week, I believe we’ve turned a corner on gender equality. The issues are out, they’re being talked about, women and men are taking action. Hollywood has been turned on its head, and I think other industries will follow.

Don‘t be too busy for leadership. Women leaders work hard. We are perfectionists. We believe the value we bring is in a job well done–that is when we’ve led our employees to complete their tasks efficiently and effectively. We even work alongside our teams. And those are all excellent qualities.

The problem is, many men approach work differently. Male leaders will spend more time delegating, networking, self-promoting, making deals. They are hard-wired to think more high-level. They don’t mess with the nitty-gritty as much, trusting others to get it done. And if a task is only 80 percent complete, they see it as better to move on than waste a lot of time and energy on it.

Men see women who are very busy, who stay in the weeds, striving for perfectionism, taking on projects that are for the good of the team or company instead of their immediate sphere of influence (or themselves!) as… I don’t know how else to say it… “icky.”

In my workshops on gender balance in leadership, men tell me that they don’t understand why women are so “hectic” and “busy.” One man actually said, “She kept her head down in her laptop so much I didn’t even know she wanted a promotion!”

Always be looking for opportunities. I hear from many women that they are simply too busy to look for opportunities. Too busy to network, too busy to look at job boards, too busy for social media… This has to change! We have to get our heads out of our laptops and start making time to network. We have to think about what we want in our careers, decide on it, and start asking for it. We have to create and use every coffee corner, company event, meeting with our boss, or extended team as an opportunity to let people know who we are and what we want. Now, I know that may sound “icky” to some women. But the truth is,

If we don’t promote our own self-interest, we can’t truly promote our team or organization

So keep your head up and look around, that’s where the leadership roles lie.

Ask for more money. Recently, I was chatting on a plane with a CEO of a construction company. Using the opportunity to do some research, I asked him what he sees as a big difference between men and women in the workplace. He said, “Men ask me for more money, women don’t.” He went on to say, “I always give them [the men] more money just because they asked me. It might not be all of what they want, but at least 50 percent.” I then asked, “So if women don’t ask you for more money, what does that mean to you?” Without skipping a beat, he said, “They’re not leadership material. If they can’t advocate for themselves, they can’t advocate for the company.”

I shouldn’t have been stunned, but I was. It made total sense.

Advocacy. That’s really what Hollywood said at The Golden Globes, and what the #TimesUp movement is all about, and what I’m saying here.  As women, if we don’t advocate for ourselves, and our own self-interest, if we don’t strive for more leadership roles, we can’t make the change that’s needed. So go for it, whatever “it” is.

If your head is up, you can see it.

For more on my coaching program exclusively for women leaders, click here.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.com.

3 Steps to Globalizing Leadership Development Programs

In January I wrote an article for Training Industry that addressed the importance of globalizing your leadership development programs. If you’re doing business in a global environment, you probably already know what is needed: Leaders with a global mindset who can lead international teams, conduct business across time zones and borders, think creatively, communicate cross-culturally, and leverage new technology.

These aren’t skills many of us learn naturally in the American workplace. More often, we develop them through trial and error, expatriate assignments, or customized training curricula. Moreover, research shows that many leadership development programs don’t prepare leaders with the skills they need to excel in a global environment—which is a puzzle, considering that increasing productivity and entering new markets top most companies’ wish lists.

Having said all of that, I’d like to share three essential steps that will help you globalize your organization’s leadership development program. Click here to read my article, 3 Steps to Globalizing Leadership Development Programs.

Need more information? Contact me.

5 Best Reads for Leaders in 2018

Best reads for Leaders

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to read more. Leadership development is a demanding field, and my list of “must read” books for 2018 continues to grow. In fact, thought leaders like Simon Sinek, believe that individuals who read at least twenty minutes a day are more successful than those who don’t.

But finding those extra twenty minutes? That can be challenging for many of us. It will require things like forgoing that extra episode of Survivor, not checking emails first thing when you wake up, and possibly using some of that lunch hour to read books instead of updating your social media.

It will be worth it! I know this because I always use what I read. Sometimes I integrate it into my own tool-set, and sometimes I speak about what I’ve learned at work, at home–even at cocktail parties. If you, like me, decide you’re going to spend more time reading, you’ll look, seem and actually be a little smarter. And there are lots of advantages to that.

Since my expertise is in growing leaders, bridging cultures, and empowering teams,  I’d like to offer my list of the top five leadership development books to read in 2018 (not a ranking):

1. Lifestorming: Creating Meaning and Achievement in Your Career and LifeAlan Weiss and Marshall Goldsmith

Weiss and Goldsmith have written hundreds of books out between the two of them. They are considered two of the best leadership coaches out there. Now, after long careers in business consulting and coaching they have teamed up to write a book about “meaning,” which is very relevant today. Many leaders struggle to inspire and motivate their teams globally, and the Gallup polls show that the number one reason why people stay in a job is that they feel like they’re making a difference.

2. Reach: A New Strategy to Help You Step Outside Your Comfort Zone, Rise to the Challenge and Build Confidence, Andy Molinsky

Andy is a colleague in the intercultural world. He’s written quite a bit on cross-cultural communication, and I enjoy his writing style. This time he’s come out with a book to help leaders feel more comfortable in uncomfortable situations. That is, he examines what it means when you’re managing or leading outside your comfort zone and need to react quickly to solve a problem or negotiate with others.

3. The EQ Leader: Instilling Passion, Creating Shared Goals, and Building Meaningful Organizations through Emotional IntelligenceSteven J. Stein

Although the concept of Emotional Intelligence has been around since 1989, the Emotional Quotient or EQ is simply the most important skill any leader can possess. Particularly in today’s digital age, technical needs will be more and more automated and what managers will have left is people interaction. We see EQ when it’s there, and we feel it when it’s not. What I find fascinating is that EQ can be taught and learned. Leaders can practice it; it’s not only innate.

4. Quiet: The Power of Introversion in a World That Can’t Stop TalkingSusan Cain

The Power of Introversion is a well-known book at this point, but if you haven’t read it yet, it is a must, particularly if you self-identify as an introvert. Susan is reassuring and has lots of practical advice on how to navigate in an extroverted world. She makes it clear that it is a question of energy, not a ‘shy’ problem. Introverts recharge by being alone; extroverts source energy from being with people. It’s crucial to know how to interact and manage those with a preference for introversion and extroversion.

5. Radical Business Model Transformation: Gaining the Competitive Edge in a Disruptive World, Carsten Linz, et al

These days, pretty much everywhere you turn, there’s talk of digitalization–in how we travel, the products we buy, and how we pay for them. The trend is sweeping the world, many industries at a time. Linz breaks down the complexity of digitalization, disproving myths and making sure the reader truly understands its significance and application to the business world. This book will eliminate fear and prepare individuals and organizations for what’s to come.

There are so many books to support great leaders out there–but my preference is to follow leading concepts in managing diversity, practical business advice to motivate teams, and cutting-edge data on true developments making a difference in the business world. I have found each of books listed above invaluable, and I hope you will too.

If you decide to join me in reading more, give me shout and let me know how it’s going. What are you reading now?

A version of this post was first published on Inc.com.

Image Credit: Sam Greenhalgh, CC 4.0

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Lamson is the CEO of Lamson Consulting, Founder of the highly popular leadership program for women, Advancement Strategies for Women, and creator of award-winning management programs for SpaceX, LinkedIn, and SAP. As an author, consultant, and speaker, Melissa accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing a global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross-cultural communication.  More About Melissa Lamson