Do you know how to succeed globally?

succeed, globally, world economic forum

Whatever your feelings about the Chinese, you have to give them credit for swiftly becoming a global power. So what made them so successful? Watch this short video about the strategies that worked for them:

If you are already an exporter you will most likely notice that their mode of operating is no different from successful exporters of any other nationality.

But what if you haven’t yet started working outside your own country? The market is irrevocably global. Already successful at home? Then, what’s stopping you from going global? A good product or service can be successful all over the world.

Get the facts and figures

Exporting isn’t rocket science. There is no need to sign up for a seminar or take a course. The main thing is to do business. Once you have a deal you will get most information you need from the customs and tax authorities, your lawyer, bank, accountant and insurance company.

Do you have a global brand?

If not, creating one is the first step. In today’s online world we all google anything new and if Google comes up with information in a language we don’t understand we lose interest. An abundance of companies all over the world fail on the global market because they forget that in other countries nobody knows who they are.  The best way to develop a global brand is to hire someone who has lived, worked/studied and integrated all over the world and knows how to develop a brand. If it’s not created by someone with a global mind, you will get a national brand translated to different languages.

Culture is key

How do they do business in the country you are interested in? Even in Western Europe there are differences between all countries. And when it comes to cultures different from your own, you can make a fatal mistake without knowing it if you don’t adapt. Again, find out from people with the experience is essential.  It’s not for nothing one of the four building blocks for China’s success overseas is culture.

Get customers

You will neither export nor become a global success without customers.

If you are selling services it can successfully be done on social media and e-commerce is another form of export that can be done online.

But frequently there is a need to have meetings with potential customers to come to an agreement.  In the West it normally works to contact companies directly. But in the developing world it’s often essential to have an introduction to get meetings with the people on high levels you need to see in order to do business there.

The key to global success is preparation, adapt to the culture, a global brand that focuses on your strengths and asking for help. Rome wasn’t built in a day and global business development can take time.  You will learn from your mistakes and when you get a breakthrough globally you will find that it was worth waiting for.

Do you agree with the Chinese about the importance of the four building blocks culture, governance, processes and people? Is your brand national or global? Do you export? If so, where? Are you interested in increasing your global presence? Are you skilled in adapting to other cultures? How long did it take you to succeed globally?

Video: World Economic Forum – Picture: FAB O LENS

63 thoughts on “Do you know how to succeed globally?

  1. If you're a small business, I'd say it's very difficult to go global. Taking into account the four factors for success mentioned in the video, I think a business would need to hire experts in global business to guide them. Going global is not for the faint of heart.

  2. I have a global brand, and do sell my books worldwide as well as doing global chocolate events. I strongly agree that understanding the culture of different countries is essential if we want o have successful business dealings with them.

  3. The Chinese in general believe in excellence and this is evident in all they do and produce. They are always a step ahead and their children are taught to work to the best of their ability from a young age. I recently read about a top school. They are protective of their culture and are still able to respect those from other cultures.

  4. These are smart principles to work from internationally and locally. In light of the comments coming out of Washington directed at China on trade, do you think we will see a global shift in trade relations?

    1. When it comes to global trade China most likely has the upper hand for many reasons. Not least because they, unlike the US are a rich country that actually hold much of the US debt.

  5. Another great post, I am not so sure about accepting the Chinese practice of business. They major appeal is cheap labor by making poor working conditions. If you do not think this is true, why are their factories surrounded with suicide nets.
    However, the building blocks discussed are vital in this would economy. The smaller the world seems to be, the greater we must expand our own sphere to maintain and expand our businesses.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  6. My small business is definitely national at the moment.

    You mentioned culture. How we relate to one another is highly important. Understanding one’s culture is a must as for some nations, their way of life is their very being.

    1. Have you started up a business? Thought you worked for Lambeth Council? All countries have different cultures and you hence behave in different ways. It's just a question of how different. Even within Europe.

  7. Don't have much to add to this. The strategies described in the video are sound ones. From my experience in globalization, which is limited, I think the most common mistake that American companies make is in assuming what they do at home will work abroad if they apply it in the same way.

    1. Absolutely. Americans more than any other nationality not only assumes that how things are done in the US works on a global scale they frequently demand it as well. Do they get business that way? Not unless the US government forces companies/governments in other parts of the world to do business with them, which is not unusual. Does that kind of attitude and behavior make Americans popular? Well you know the answer to that. And keep in mind that this kind of behaviour started during World War II.

  8. So many points you make here are shared by the organisation I work for where our main role is to help local companies become international. We hold workshops where experts from the relevant sector or country can brief exporters on what is required. We introduce them to translators, sector specialist, market specialist to help them along. We also organise Trade Missions to relevant countries. On the Trade Mission we will introduce them to several partners where they have one to one meetings and hopefully some business gets done once they have got to trust each other. It's a long process in some cases but when they do start selling abroad, there is no stopping them

    1. You made me curious what organisation you worked for, Mina. Turned out it's what used to be called the DTI. Cooperated a lot with senior officials there when I lived in London. Still on Victoria Street. Mind you they see everygthing from a British point of view but sometimes they have great contacts in countries on a global scale.

      1. DTI is now called Department for Business,Innovation and Skills . The trade work is now done through UK Trade and Investment (still connected to BIS) . I work for UKTI in the East of England. And yes, for British Business we have good contacts round the World .

        1. Actually understood that you work for one of the former DTI’s branshes, Mina. Used to see their head office in London for press purposes in ordet to meet connections they had in countries all over the world. Sometimes their connections were good sometimes not. And keep in mind that they UK is one of the leading countries in the world when it comes to trade and not even they always have the best contacts which says a lot. Mind you in parts of the world it’s all about who you know, friends of friends and so forth. So if someone senior at the DTI (I will keep on calling them that here) has not got personal friends in say Saudi Arabia his contacts are will not be great.

  9. Catarina, I believe that understanding the needs of your customer – whether here at home or globally – is the basis of any successful business. Since I have never been to China or Japan or Sweden, I can't possible understand the culture and business politics of those countries. With the Internet making outsourcing readily accessible it therefore makes sense that you would hire someone with knowledge of a country to do business there on your behalf.

    1. Absolutely, just make sure you hire someone who really understands the kulture/market of the country you are interested in. There are many fraudulent companies out there.

  10. It seems like a complicating process to go global these days. I have a virtual service based business and don’t sell products at the moment but may get into that in the future. If I would go global with my product, I would definitely look for a company that specializing in particular country markets to help.

    1. It is. An abundance of companies believe it's easy and hence fail miserably. You are right about the need to find someone who understands how to work in whatever country. Just make sure the person/company in question really does understand the market, culture and so forth. If not you could easily end up paying for nothing.

  11. My advice in line with this article is to take a moment and think about activities in your own work or studies, where people are recognized and rewarded for performing tasks well, and even for generating locally successful results, in that case you can succeed globally

  12. There's no question that understanding the local culture of countries in which you operate is vital: possibly the most vital of the elements for ongoing success. This will really encompass the issues of people, process and governance in that country if done correctly. Brand building is equally important – but the nature of this depends on your business. Consumer brands need national and global presence, more vertical brands need to be known by their target markets and can be much more narrow…

    Dealing with Chinese companies so far I've found that for them, orders are generally the most important thing. They seldom seem to care too much about brand building or sell-through and this is where things often fall down. Perhaps this is symptomatic of the technology market in which I operate, but it is a sign of a still-immature business approach. It will improve…

  13. Indeed I agree with those building blocks. Being a finance professional within the African business space I have seen how failing to recognise culture and people can create undesired resistance that can stifle one's business goals. One cannot exclude people and culture from their business strategy on a global scale. It is key to research culture and identify with a people to succeed in doing busines with them.

  14. Great post! Personally, my business is global. I don’t have any Chinese customers, but have clients from the UK, Australia, Turkey, Armenia, and soon in Italy.

    Some of my business partners are in Japan and Ireland. It is really important to understand the differences in culture, but I also think a lot of it comes down to being a real person with real value you can demonstrate to people. Across the world, people have some universal values. While our differences make us unique, our values tie us together.

    1. Glad you agree with me, Andy, about the importance of adapting to different cultures. Have personally lived and worked in, or with, most countries in the world. It would be good if values always tied us together but unfortunately that's not always the case. Have you ever lived and worked/studied outside the United States?

  15. I have never tried to do business in another country myself, but my husband is a physician-scientist who collaborates with other scientists, governments and companies around the world. We have seen some problems that result from cultural misunderstandings. Unfortunately, some of them have had to do with men in other countries having “issues” dealing with high ranking American women.

    1. Yes, cultural misunderstandings is an issue that can not be overlooked, Suzanne. And if we want to do business with a country with another culture we have to adapt.

  16. My husband recently applied for a job in New Zealand, but for now we’re staying put. It’s great that he works for a worldwide company that offers such relocation possibilities and that his services can be global. As a writer and editor, I suppose that holds true to an extent, but it creates a mess of language issues to work with non-native speakers.

  17. Hi Catarina,
    Great write up! I think the four building blocks are essential elements to success, and it is no wonder that China is set to take over the US financially. Even from a systems analysis perspective, it would be difficult to assess needs without a clear understanding of customs and people, as well as the methodologies, processes, regulations required.

    Kind Regards,
    My recent post Release These 17 Things And Finally Be Happy

  18. Many times people will make the mistake and assume that what will work with one culture will also work with another. If we can figure out what is required to be successful in another culture we have a great chance, although not guaranteed, of success. As the world goes smaller and we are much more interconnected in all ways, that kind of knowledge can certainly give us a leg up in this ever-growing global economy. 🙂
    My recent post Everyday Life Challenges: Story

    1. Spot on, Susan. Americans are probably the worst when it comes to ignoring other people's cultures. They frequently anger top people when they start explaining to them how their country works.

    1. Yes, China is a difficult culture to do business in, AK. When you call a company there, often even in Hong Kong, the receptionist only speaks Chinese (don't know if it's Mandarine or Cantonese). Tried in vain to make myself understood in 7 languages. It ended with the receptionist kust hanging up on you.

  19. I don't have a global business but I wouldn't even consider trying to to do business in another country without retaining the services of an individual or company that understands the business environment and culture of the countries I'd be doing business with. Even though English has become the universal language of business, we have to remember that English is a second language for the vast majority of people in the world. Words have different meanings even in the same language.
    My recent post LinkedIn Establishes New and Confusing Rules for Group Discussions

    1. Glad you agree with me, Jeannette. You would manage with English. I did all over the world. The most difficult "English" to deal with is Hinglish. It's a mix of Hindu and English and have hence come up with new words.

  20. I agree with the four essentials you have mentioned. But also, in my opinion the other key factor in China’s success is that they have strictly kept themselves to business and do not interfere with other countries, take over them or indulge in wars etc (at least not like other nations). Chinese do take care of and respect others’ culture and have built a reputation of friendly nation resulting in their business success.

  21. Hi Catarina
    I have not and will not ever have the opportunity to business globally, but I found your post interesting in the fact that if applies to everywhere. I don’t think you can be successful in business anywhere without knowing your target market.

  22. I have heard numerous stories of successful companies venturing into overseas markets with the expectation that their product or service will be greeted with the same enthusiasm as it was back home. As you rightly point out this is so often not the case. Not because the product is inferior but because it may be marketed in a way that is culturally insensitive. Understanding the culture of a country in which you with to do business should be business and marketing 101.

  23. Being a Pakistani, China is one country that is very close geography and geostrategy is concerned.
    From sewing needle to jet plane all is from China and every thing from China is even cheaper than anything from Pakistan.
    I agree with China on the importance of four building blocks as you have mentioned.
    You are right about the selection of one who is from same back ground or knows the language or the culture if you want to extend the business globally. I believe today business is easier than before as we can get the information of any company etc from internet.
    Unfortunately I am not into business and I do not have any brand but my family is in exports , imports and mostly they do business from China.
    In between, I really loved the currency picture as I have seen Pakistani Rupee after a long time… No matter how it is suffering or devalued .. it is still dare to most of Pakistanis.

    1. Glad you agree with me, Andleeb, about the importance of adapting to cultures. China is now moving away from being cheaper than anyone else. Cheap manufacturing is moving to Africa.

      1. Well , I do not know about that. But it is nice to know , but it makes me wonder though , what are the factors that Africa is manufacturing on cheaper rates?
        Labor , wages , electricity .. what matters most or there is any other factor involved.

  24. Isn't it funny how often people assume what will work inside of one culture will have resonance in another? Doing business internationally presents some amazing opportunities, but it definitely requires partners clued into what works and doesn't work in other countries. I've been amazed at some of the things you have mentioned even in passing, like the necessity of Facebook in Sweden in order to do business. Facebook is popular here and lots of businesses throw up a Facebook page, but I rarely see it being used effectively.
    My recent post Is There Value to Using Case Studies in Business?

    1. Glad, and not surprised, we agree Debra. The worst is when people arrive for a meeting in another country and behave and dress as if they were back home. Sometimes they even manage to insult the people they have meetings with.

  25. Excellent post Catarina. In my past experience, we found that knowing the culture is super important and you are right…the best way to do that is to outsource some sales/marketing to experts who live and work in the countries you hope to do business with. We were successful by following this practice.
    My recent post Mature Skin… Where’s The Justice?

    1. Thank you, Jacqueline. Agree with you. Once you have made a deal in a country you can outsource sales to them. But in many developing countries you will not get a meeting to make a deal unless you get an introduction. Doesn't matter how excellent your products are, the main thing is who you know.

  26. To succeed globally requires most of the same basics in China as elsewhere. However in one sense it is can be easier. Many companies with an ‘export mentality’ like to get more mileage out of existing products by simply packaging them for export .For small markets it may be un-economical to develop products specifically for a country. China, however can uptake massive volumes in many categories and it is very worthwhile to develop products specifically for these markets. Most importantly, many wrongly believe that prices must be low and this is completely wrong. If exclusive distributors are appointed and their margins are therefore protected excellent margins are available to exporters.

    1. Glad you agree with me,Paul. But dont' you agree that the most important aspect of business development is having meetings to make deals. Once you have a deal, or agent/distributor, in a country you can package your products for that particular country. You can't just package your products and send them to, for instance, China. Agree with you completely that prices don't have to be low. Sometimes they actually have to be high in order for a product to succeed. Look at Chivas Regal. You would never have heard of it today if it wasn't for the high price and marketing giving the impression it's the best whisky in the world. Also true that you can develop products catering to China, Saudi & the Gulf States or India. A lot of companies actually jumped on the Made for China bandwaggon.

      1. Yes. I take basic marketing fundamentals as a given and certainly the product ideas must evolve from face to face dialogue in the market country. I massively favor distributors over agents for that very reason though in either case direct target consumer research is advisable.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.