Global Mindset Provides Competitive Advantage

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Research proves the rapidly-rising importance of the Global Mindset.

A Global Mindset is critical for success in business and success as a leader and is the one skill you must master for competitive advantage today. One skill that applies across every industry and every marketplace. How do you, as a leader, and your organization rank in mastery of the Global Mindset? Do you know?

Mastery of the Global Mindset.

I’ve talked about this before. Data from the GMI Index study, research published by CultureWizard in December 2017 shows mastery of a Global Mindset drives competitive advantage in business. Among the most important findings from the GMI Index Study, are three, which underscore the rapidly-rising importance of intercultural skills:

  • More than 82 percent of respondents rated the international component of their companies’ business as “extremely significant.”
  • Nearly half (45 percent) spend more than half their time on international business activity.
  • Almost one-quarter (24 percent) spend more than 75 percent of their work time on global endeavors.

“The Global Mindset Index (GMI) demonstrates that companies which actively support their employees gaining a Global Mindset are far more likely to achieve their business objectives than those that don’t. With almost 1,400 participants representing global enterprises from every region of the world, the respondents indicated that their work involved significant interaction with others in the global arena,” writes Charlene Solomon, of CultureWizard.

What is Global Mindset?

According to the GMI Index Study, Global Mindset is defined as  “the ability to recognize and reflexively adjust to cultural signals so that your effectiveness is not compromised when dealing with people from different backgrounds.” According to Dr. Mansour Javidan, Garvin Distinguished Professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, essential elements of a Global Mindset include:

•   Intellectual capital: Global business savvy, cognitive complexity, cosmopolitan outlook

•   Psychological capital: Passion for diversity, a quest for adventure, self-assurance

•   Social capital: Intercultural empathy, interpersonal impact, diplomacy

“Leaders who have a high level of Global Mindset are more likely to succeed in working with people from other cultures, he writes, in an article for the Harvard Business Review. “Leaders with a strong stock of Global Mindset know about cultures and political and economic systems in other countries and understand how their global industry works,” he continues.

Of course, it’s important to point out that mindsets can apply to both individuals and organizations. Leaders who possess a Global Mindset can, and do, encourage their teams to adopt a Global Mindset. Companies that embrace Global Mindset tend to promote those employees who demonstrate mastery.

As the GMI Index Study points out, the same organizations are twice as likely to have highly motivated multicultural teams and tend to experience fewer of the cultural missteps, which can damage productivity and business relationships. In these instances, the company, and its stakeholders benefit from the adoption of the Global Mindset.

Globally-minded businesses have a competitive advantage over companies with a more narrow focus. These firms can develop products and services that meet the needs of customers and prospects located across the world. But competing in a global marketplace is only one of the reasons adopting the Global Mindset is so crucial today.

An organization that embraces Global Mindset can identify emerging opportunities earlier than its competitors. It benefits from having a more sophisticated understanding of the tradeoffs between global standardization and local adaption, faster and more effective new product introductions, and facilitates sharing best practices and activities across cultural boundaries.

The Global Mindset Inventory (GMI)

At this point, you may be wondering how to move forward in mastering the Global Mindset–for yourself as the leader, and for your team or organization. I work with clients located in countries across the globe. I recommend, and use, the Global Mindset Inventory, which is a psychometric assessment tool that measures and predicts performance in global leadership. Developed by the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the Global Mindset Inventory is a web-based survey consisting of seventy-six questions that measure your Global Mindset in three capitals and nine competencies.

After you take the GMI assessment, you will receive a scored report, documentation with feedback, and recommendations and suggestions to improve your Global Mindset. You can use the GMI tool for yourself as an individual and for your staff. You can also bring in a consultant to conduct a workshop to help you and your colleagues identify ways to master the Global Mindset.

As I have said in the past, the Global Mindset isn’t just about cross-cultural communication. It’s about understanding not only who, but also what and how to do business successfully across all borders, regions, and perspectives. And given the state of our world today and its burgeoning global marketplace, mastering the Global Mindset is not only vital–it is the one skill you must master for competitive advantage today and in the days to come.

Contact me for more information about mastering the Global Mindset. And join my online global leadership community for valuable tips and training on conducting business internationally.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo credit: Simone Busatto on Unsplash

Cultivate a Global Mindset For a Better Bottom Line

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The face of business has changed. You may have employees working globally, doing business with people from other regions or countries, or you might be relocating executives across cultures. The fact is, the global industry is the new norm. And your team needs to cultivate a “global mindset.” In today’s global marketplace it is critical for people to efficiently work together across borders and time zones to achieve business success.

Even more, we have a moral and ethical business obligation to be savvy about how the world works. By this I mean we need to be aware of the nuances of political systems, cultural norms, and the psychological mindsets of those whom we do business with and for. Without this savviness, we can’t truly understand the world and what it needs to run successfully.

Still, studies show many leadership programs fail at preparing future leaders with the skills needed to excel in today’s global business world.

What are these programs lacking?

The tools necessary for employees and organizations to cultivate a global mindset. A global mindset describes one that has a genuine desire, knowledge, and the skills to operate effectively in business today. One needs to know how to negotiate with vendors, sell to customers, and lead productive teamwork across regions – often in multiple countries at the same time.

This is just as important as legal counsel, marketing, sales, or a business strategy. Cultivating a global mindset shouldn’t be optional, as it fills a strategic, tactical need of operating in today’s global business. It is just as important as other business operations.

The number one agenda item

The number one agenda item for today’s corporate leaders looking to sustain business success should be finding talent with a global mindset. The team that cultivates a global mindset will be able to:

• Assess new markets

• Understand customer behavior

• Negotiate with vendors

• Secure contracts and commitment

• Navigate cultural nuances

• Build long-term business relationships

• Run complex projects

• Manage high-performing teams

Start cultivating a global mindset with these four tips

1. Get off your computer and get on a plane. As much as we might like to believe that the internet makes experiences like “study abroad” unnecessary, this kind of enriching experience is invaluable for understanding how cultural differences shape business and purchasing decisions. Opening your own mind to the differences among cultures will help you comprehend the kinds of perspectives you might encounter in global expansion, international sales negotiations, or hiring discussions for a new regional vice president.

2. Cultivate a global mindset at every level of the business. While making it a priority starts with upper management, executive staff aren’t the only people involved in implementing a global mindset across a company. Personnel in human resources, public relations, and corporate communications support those executive leaders. Making global mindset a priority for the entire staff, not just those who often travel internationally, will ensure both every day and long-term business actions are sensitive to the needs of other cultures.

3. Play memory. If you’re working in a new region of the world, do some research online and memorize five facts about the country or culture. When interacting with colleagues or business partners, use those facts as ice-breakers. In new sales or vendor meetings, you’ll be credible. And by making an effort to learn about their culture, you’ll gain respect by showing genuine interest in your new associates.

4. Share your experiences. When you travel, read global news and books, or watch international films, and share your experiences. By sharing your experience with friends, families, and co-workers, you plant the seeds of a global mindset within them. Create excitement about learning about the world.

Ready to go global?

Are you—and your employees—ready to go global? You can find out by taking the Global Mindset Inventory (GMI) assessment. The GMI measures Intellectual, Psychological, and Social Capital to reveal both strengths and areas to develop. GMI also coaches individual assessment-takers to interpret their results and create a plan of action. Learn more about the GMI assessment here.

Cultivating global mindset isn’t only a business benefit; the growth and enrichment that comes with cross-cultural experiences can be as personally rewarding as it is professionally. But if your team needs help with global business skills, contact me. I can help.

A version of this post was first published on Lead Change Group 

Image: Antonio Quagliata from Pexels

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

Work-Life Balance is an Outdated Concept, So What Now?

Beach chairs on the evening sea coast.

Work-life balance became a buzzword a couple of decades ago. Everywhere you turned there were presentations, articles and self-proclaimed “experts” all promising to help the overworked find a better balance.

The thing is, I’m not so sure work and life are really separate concepts anymore.

More and more, work and life are intertwined, especially when working remotely, or traveling for work. And to increase engagement, more companies are making workplaces feel like “home.” “Work-Life Integration” is probably a more accurate term today, and people work every day to try to do this well. It isn’t as much a balancing act as it is an act of acceptance that balance doesn’t exist. Something will always have to give; your time in the office, your kid’s soccer game, time with your partner, or travel abroad. If you want successful work-life integration, you will need to sacrifice something.

Sure, there are still the no-holds-barred leaders out there whose commitment to work eclipses everything else and there are those who think that’s the way it has to be if you want to be successful. Some of these people might even be happy with their life this way, who are we to judge? Many experts today still proclaim it is possible to have it all. However, what exactly does “all” mean?

As leaders, we need to become aware of what’s important to us and the individuals in our team, we need to set an example, be a role model, and help them create the right situation and strategy for themselves. In my opinion, work-life integration is about setting boundaries. If you clarify what you want, create a plan, set boundaries, and manage it well, fulfillment in one’s personal and professional lives can easily be a reality.

It’s all about boundaries.

To achieve life balance, you have to set these boundaries both in your personal life and your work life. You’ll want to make deliberate decisions about what’s going to be the priority. And it has to go both ways to work out. At work, we often have to respond instantly to crises and sudden situations. Then again, sometimes your personal life is more important—your preschooler is in a theater production, a parent is diagnosed with an illness, or your eldest is graduating from law school.

The fact is, when a situation with enough importance emerges (in business or life), we make time. And you know what? The world doesn’t end. This just shows that having boundaries and stepping away is possible. Planning is key and with proper boundaries in place, it becomes easier to give attention to all areas of your life. (Nigel Marsh has a wonderful TedTalk on boundaries.)

Here are five steps to creating excellent work-life integration for yourself and your team. Share these steps with those you manage and hold a conversation about their relevance:

Define “balance.” First, you have to know what you want out of life, then you can create a clear plan to achieve those goals. If working a lot right now is important for your career growth, then that’s ok. If spending more time with your partner is a priority for your relationship, then do that. Maybe your kids need more or less attention at this point in their lives.

Communicate proactively. In some ways, this goes hand-in-hand with the above point. Talk to your family and significant other about what’s coming up on the calendar at work and speak with your team about what types of personal situations may require your attention no matter what. This can help avoid partner, manager or team resentment when various life or work events arise.

Know your own resilience level. You may be the type who can sleep little and work a lot. Or you might require eight hours and need to let your brain rest in between productive spurts of work. Maybe you burn out without regular vacation time or maybe work gives you so much energy, you don’t need many holidays. Listen to what your body and mind need and honor that.

Walk the talk. Don’t preach work-life integration and then send emails in the middle of the night, regularly stay late at the office, and text your team members at off hours. Managers are often unaware how their own behavior unintentionally sets the standard for the team. People may feel they have to respond in the middle of the night, stay late until the boss leaves, etc.

Introduce your personal life into your work life. Back in the day, talking about your personal life at work was a big no-no, but now those walls are coming down. You see more and more amusing family anecdotes or personal stop-and-think moments being integrated into presentations and speeches. The more you make your workplace feel like home (as much as your company will allow), the more balanced you’ll feel at work.

Shawn Anchor, author of The Happiness Advantage says, “When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive.” The idea of work-life integration isn’t just corporate lip service anymore, but it isn’t really about having perfect balance either. It’s about creating an ideal situation for yourself – accepted at home and at work – so that you can thrive both personally and professionally.

For a workshop, webinar, or speaking engagement on How to Set Boundaries and Be Happier in Life and Work, contact Melissa.

A version of this post was first published here.

 

3 Tips for Launching Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility

As the holidays come to a close, many companies all over the world are doing two things: Reviewing their 2017 performance and selecting charities to receive their official nod to holiday generosity. It’s worth asking how many of them have connected the two in developing their 2017 strategies. Corporate philanthropy isn’t just an obligation, after all; along with helping others, corporate social responsibility (CSR) offers an opportunity to inspire employees and attract new customers.

A few decades ago, no one expected companies to play the Good Samaritan. But in today’s era of “compassionate capitalism,” it’s almost de rigueur for companies to demonstrate some level of altruism, whether it’s promoting green initiatives, improving their local community, or lending their support to a global cause. Corporate social responsibility has become so hardwired into our business culture, in fact, that enterprise brands can look stingy and uncaring if they lack a robust program.

Of course, there’s something else typical of big corporations today, and that’s global expansion. And the intersection of global market entry and CSR can be a tricky one to navigate, given the different cultural priorities regarding these programs. Leaders often follow the saying “people, planet and profit” when it comes to investing in CSR but that can be a bit too simplistic on an international scale. To launch an effective program, global leaders must consider the following factors in their approach.

Figure out which buyers care about your initiatives.

While there’s been some debate on how profoundly CSR programs influence buyers, one Neilsen report showed in Italy Millennials, and Generation Z would pay more for products that were organically grown and ethically produced – And this is the trend globally. While retail slows down in Europe and North America, consumers are looking towards those products which focus on personal wellness and sustainability. In the developing world, it is still essential to ensure research and development, manufacturing and other production considers the community’s needs. Government officials and locals can block the success of global entry if specific environmental and societal criteria are not met.

Design a strategy that will ignite your workforce.

The Gallup Report for 2017 shows only 15 percent of the workforce engaged and actively engaged— a disheartening statistic. The data states that manufacturing and production are the primary cause of a lack of morale. A Corporate social responsibility program may interest your customer base, but it could indeed act as a morale booster for your workforce. The importance of a sense of meaning at one’s job has been proven time and again – and participating in a global mission can be even more galvanizing. This sense of meaning is extraordinarily powerful for remote teams, as sharing the same purpose can deepen connections between far-flung colleagues and dispersed offices.

For instance, each region might contribute toward a different local cause, such as rebuilding from a natural disaster in a struggling community – everyone will post photos and updates to the same internal site to educate and inspire others. Another option is having everyone adopt the same internal initiatives. Going green is obviously a popular one; offices can hold contests on reducing waste and packaging materials, exchange ideas on setting up carpool systems or show off their new energy-efficient lighting. Employees in Hong Kong who ordinarily might never interact with employees in Toronto will enjoy common ground that ultimately fosters deeper engagement for everyone.

Shift from CSR to Social Impact.

Particularly in today’s political and environmental climate, we need to ensure our efforts are not abstract. In touting CSR as making a social impact, everyone can relate. Leaders become advocates; employees care about making a difference. Alice Korngold wrote, “A Better World Inc.,” where she talks about how companies can make a positive social impact where governments cannot. We’ve seen this recently with the Paris Accord Agreement where hundreds of corporations have said they will uphold its principles even during the political debate.

Sometimes companies must commit to CSR that holds a personal significance for their partners. Ultimately every global company should consider the impact of corporate social responsibility initiatives on its workforce, its customers, and its communities before making a significant investment. The wrong program can go ignored by both employees and customers.

But the right program can put a halo of appeal around a brand image, inspire your workforce—and make a real global impact at the same time.

For a list of the top 20 CSR programs in 2017 and the companies they belong to, see here

Image Copyright: trueffelpix / 123RF Stock Photo 

A version of this post was first published here. 

5 Secrets to Acing Your Global Presentation

Public Speaking

Presentations can be stressful and awkward. Throw in presenting to audiences from diverse cultural backgrounds and languages, and the venture is that much more challenging.

One strategy to ace your global presentation is to share a story:

Bring in family and personal experiences that show what you care about and what values you have. This helps humanize you and connect you with the audience. It’s even better if you can discuss scary or surprising details you were able to overcome. These tales are not only interesting; they can be inspiring to your audience.

To learn about the other four strategies, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Public Speaking

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8 Steps to Expand Your Customer Base Globally

Global Business

With more than 70 percent of the world’s purchasing and more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside the U.S, going global is worth the risk.

Still, the allure of the unknown is littered with traps that can take down an organization if it isn’t careful. When I expanded to Germany, I tapped into my current clients with offices abroad who made key introductions that allowed me to lay a foundation internationally.

Leveraging the contacts and experiences I already had was an important step in growth.

Another way to expand your customer base globally is to do your homework:

Before doing anything, you need to assess the market potential in the particular areas of the world that you’re interested in expanding to. So, talk to people who have done it before and learn from their mistakes.

Reach out to ex-patriates who have spent time in those countries and ask about their challenges. Then carve out what customer base makes sense for you logistically and culturally.

To learn about the other seven steps, please click here to read the entire article!

 

Global Business

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3 Things CEOs Do to Run Successful Multi-Million Dollar Businesses Globally

Global Business

There are three moves business leaders make to take companies global (and make millions).

For example, they recruit competent talent:

Recruiting globally requires a whole different strategy than in the U.S. It must be tailored to fit the labor laws, culture, and societal perspective of that country. For example, during an interview in the U.S., personal questions about religion or family life are off-limits but are almost expected in Latin America.

In Europe, they’ll be more concerned with showing you certificates and degrees. In India, competition is so fierce, you may be confronted with a whole other set of challenges you didn’t expect.

To learn about the other two indispensable moves, please click here to read the entire article!

 

European Business

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5 Things You Need to Know Before Doing Business in Europe (As Featured in Inc.)

European BusinessThere are 5 principles executives need to understand before doing business in Europe.

For example, one of my recommendations is it’s what you know, not who you know:

A European will measure your worth by how much you know about current events, the world, and historical happenings. A good businessperson is well educated, intellectual and able to discuss topics of the day.

Inform yourself before you go abroad so you can speak to the context you’re in. More importantly, bring something new to the table–don’t just repeat the latest headlines. Europeans value knowledge, and you’ll impress them greatly if they walk away feeling they learned something, even if it has nothing to do with the business at hand.

To learn about the other four principles, please click here to read the entire article!

 

European Business

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5 Things Successful Global Executives Do Every Day

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My friend’s Berlin office struck me as odd when I walked into it for the first time. The top consultant for foreign investment in the Middle East didn’t have the usual round conference table. Instead, he had two long sofas facing each other.

At first, it seemed awkward. I wondered where my friend and his prospective customers made deals? Did he have another room somewhere that I couldn’t see?

Then I realized this setup was one of his secrets to success.

Negotiations with those in the Middle East don’t happen around conference tables or on the links. They happen sitting directly across from one another, drinking tea, and talking business. My friend had arranged his office to accommodate the culture of those with whom he was making deals.

Simple practices like this can be the dividing line between success and failure when you are conducting business abroad. Successful global business executives know to do their homework before entering into negotiations.

Here are five actions you can take right now to help with your global business ventures:

1. Adapt your cultural practices
Like my friend in Berlin, adapt your business practices to fit those from different backgrounds or cultures. Whether it be making decisions over late night drinks or during afternoon tea, adapting to cultural norms is critical for ensuring deals are made.

Along with this, it’s essential to approach negotiations with an open mind. Respect and be empathetic to those from different backgrounds than yours.

2. Make friends abroad
Develop relationships with those who live in countries in which you want to do business. Take trips and meet with government officials and community members.

When visiting, behave like an anthropologist. Be curious and ask questions. Acting like an anthropologist will help you establish credibility.

For example, if you’re doing business in Central Europe, you need to come to the table having done your homework whereas, in Israel, the details are expected to shake out after you and your potential business partners have initially discussed the idea.

3. Leverage relationships at home
There’s a good chance that people in your own network have done business in countries or cultures you want to target. Seek these people out and use them as cultural ambassadors to be successful in that global environment.

Invite them to impart their wisdom and contacts. Don’t be afraid to “ask dumb questions.” Learn from their mistakes and experience.

4. Keep up with the times
Successful global executives are avid consumers of global news. They pay attention to things such as conflicts, elections, and natural disasters.

This habit can help make sure you don’t try to schedule a meeting during a critical holiday or run into travel restrictions due to political unrest.

5. Know how money talks
We all know the phrase “money talks” but, it can speak in different languages. To be successful globally, you need to understand how money is handled, transacted, and the expectation for how it will be used to secure a negotiation.

What do the people with whom you are doing business consider a bribe? What does their culture and society view as an appropriate gift? Is money wired? What’s the state of the currency? You should be able to answer all these questions before trying to make a deal in another country.

Successful global executives learn everything they can about the country in which they want to do business. Knowing whether to kiss, shake hands, bow or offer tea, coffee, or scotch can go a long way in making successful and profitable global business deals.

Do you have questions about expanding your operations internationally? Join my online global leadership community today and receive my practical guide to global expansion in 2018. This white paper addresses vital issues including what you need to consider, questions executives ask, a readiness assessment and a list of the hot markets for 2018.

A version of this post was first published on Inc.

Photo: hiva sharifi on Unsplash