Global Leadership Blog

How to Go Global: Questions Execs Ask

I meet a lot of executives from all over the world and they ask me a lot of questions about expanding their business globally. Perhaps frustratingly so, my answer often starts with —“It depends”.

Let me explain.

No country, culture, or community is the same. So, when an executive asks what will be the return on investment in country X, the answer for country Y may be completely different due to differing tax structures, laws, and regulations. IKEA, for example, started in Sweden but is headquartered in the Netherlands due in large part to tax considerations. Another question execs often ask is about which markets make sense. Well, Walmart thought Germany made sense. It is a large country with a robust economy and strong legal and regulatory environment. But it was a bust because Walmart did not take the time to learn about the country, follow on others’ successful tactics, and adapt a plan as needed.

The problem with these high level, general questions about where and how to expand across borders is that they don’t delve deep enough to give you a clear picture of the market. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask high level questions. The trick is to ask the questions a little differently. For example, better questions to ask would be:

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

Companies have different tolerances for risk. They have different expectations of reasonable ROI. For most expansions, you should expect ROI to increase as you do businesses successfully in a new country.

What kinds of markets make sense for us?

What are the characteristics of markets where we’re more likely to be successful? Analyze your company by looking at your strengths, weaknesses, and experience. Then, consider your strategy and look for markets where you’re more likely to succeed.

So, before thinking about going global, here’s a homework assignment.

Analyze your own company. Highlight your strengths and weaknesses. Analyze your tolerance for risk and your expectation of reasonable reward. This takes a while to do if you do it formally, but you can probably make some rough-cut judgements in a meeting or two with knowledgeable people. Whatever judgements you come up with will be preliminary. As you do your research, you will loop back and modify them, but they’re a good place to start.

Next, make a list of the countries where you may want to expand. Then you can start doing some background research.

Make an appointment with yourself that for 15 minutes every day during the next month you’ll scan international news, go to websites, read the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Economist. Look for stories about the countries on your list. Scan for stories about companies from your home country who do business in the countries you’re considering. Find out more about them. Take notes.

Even better, have several executives at your company do the same thing. Then compare notes once a week. By the end of the month, you will have developed an intuitive sense of how things are in the countries you’re researching.

Remember, you’re not looking for generic great opportunities. You’re hunting for clues about what global expansion makes sense for your company and your strategy.

Melissa Lamson

About The Author

Melissa Lamson, Founder and President of Lamson Consulting, is an author, consultant, and speaker who accelerates the business expansion goals of today’s most successful companies by developing global mindset, refining leadership skills, and bridging cross cultural communication. More About Melissa Lamson

PRIVACY POLICY

What information do we collect?

We collect information from you when you place an order, subscribe to our newsletter, respond to a survey or fill out a form.
When ordering or registering on our site, as appropriate, you may be asked to enter your: name, e-mail address, mailing address, phone number or credit card information. You may, however, visit our site anonymously.

Like most websites, we use cookies and/or web beacons to enhance your experience, gather general visitor information, and track visits to our website. Please refer to the ‘do we use cookies?’ section below for information about cookies and how we use them.

What do we use your information for?

Any of the information we collect from you may be used in one of the following ways:

 

. To personalize your experience (your information helps us to better respond to your individual needs)
. To improve our website (we continually strive to improve our website offerings based on the information and feedback we receive from you)
. To improve customer service (your information helps us to more effectively respond to your customer service requests and support needs)
. To process transactions . Your information, whether public or private, will not be sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason whatsoever, without your consent, other than for the express purpose of delivering the purchased product or service requested.
. To administer a contest, promotion, survey or other site feature
. To send periodic emails

 

The email address you provide for order processing, may be used to send you information and updates pertaining to your order, in addition to receiving occasional company news, updates, related product or service information, etc.

Note: If at any time you would like to unsubscribe from receiving future emails, we include detailed unsubscribe instructions at the bottom of each email.

How do we protect your information?

We implement a variety of security measures to maintain the safety of your personal information when you place an order or access your personal information.
We offer the use of a secure server. All supplied sensitive/credit information is transmitted via Secure Socket Layer (SSL) technology and then encrypted into our Payment gateway providers database only to be accessible by those authorized with special access rights to such systems, and are required to keep the information confidential.

After a transaction, your private information (credit cards, social security numbers, financials, etc.) will not be stored on our servers.

Do we use cookies?

Yes (Cookies are small files that a site or its service provider transfers to your computers hard drive through your Web browser (if you allow) that enables the sites or service providers systems to recognize your browser and capture and remember certain information.

We use cookies to help us remember and process the items in your shopping cart and compile aggregate data about site traffic and site interaction so that we can offer better site experiences and tools in the future. We may contract with third-party service providers to assist us in better understanding our site visitors. These service providers are not permitted to use the information collected on our behalf except to help us conduct and improve our business.

If you prefer, you can choose to have your computer warn you each time a cookie is being sent, or you can choose to turn off all cookies via your browser settings. Like most websites, if you turn your cookies off, some of our services may not function properly. However, you can still place orders over the telephone.

Do we disclose any information to outside parties?

We do not sell, trade, or otherwise transfer to outside parties your personally identifiable information. This does not include trusted third parties who assist us in operating our website, conducting our business, or servicing you, so long as those parties agree to keep this information confidential. We may also release your information when we believe release is appropriate to comply with the law, enforce our site policies, or protect ours or others rights, property, or safety. However, non-personally identifiable visitor information may be provided to other parties for marketing, advertising, or other uses.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Compliance

We are in compliance with the requirements of COPPA (Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act), we do not collect any information from anyone under 13 years of age. Our website, products and services are all directed to people who are at least 13 years old or older.

Your Consent

By using our site, you consent to our privacy policy.

Changes to our Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes on this page.

Contacting Us

If there are any questions regarding this privacy policy you may contact us via moc.l1539625648iamg@1539625648CLLgn1539625648itlus1539625648noCno1539625648smaL1539625648.