What competencies and capabilities does your small or medium-sized company have for going global?

October 29, 2014 by Juha Merinen

Internationalization is one of the biggest challenges to your business, and only a genuinely reliable and realistic evaluation of competencies and capabilities helps your company to succeed internationally.

During the past couple of years, I’ve been emphasizing one obvious thing in all kinds of coaching, consultation
and sparring days for Start-Up and small/medium-sized companies: Internationalization is a process, not an event.

At the same time, I’ve been asking the following question which I find relevant:

Does your company have a written, executable and measurable internationalization plan which has been communicated to the staff openly and clearly, with goals that everyone has truly committed to achieving?

If yes, what is it and how have the following matters, for example, been taken concretely into account:

  1. What is your plan in practice? What does it contain, how is it monitored and measured?
  2. Is the implementation of your internationalization plan being made concrete by specifying detailed, measurable, functional, realistic and scheduled actions?
    Keep in mind that you cannot set measurable goals if you aren’t aware of the challenges and opportunities you  may come across on your path to internationalization. (”If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it”).
  3. What are the financing and investment plans required for the planned internationalization?
  4. What are the current and desired competencies and capabilities of your company in terms of internationalization?
  5. What is the business strategy required for internationalization with all of its subsections
  6. Is there a plan for opening and developing desired customerships, partnerships and stakeholder groups?
  7. What are the scalable structures, mode-of-operations, Go-To-Market models, distribution and communication strategies and last, but not least; concrete sales plans for going international?

Most companies will answer the above questions by saying that they do have an internationalization plan.
The fact is, however, that far too few companies truly have one. Start-ups and most small and medium-sized companies have not, for example, carried out any analysis of how to finance their internationalization.

They haven’t analyzed the effects of the internationalization plan on the finances of the entire company in terms of cash flow either, for example. They are often unaware of the potential “sources of money” for internationalization.

Getting ready for internationalization

“In a growing company that is going international, the basic business factors must be in order before moving on to the more demanding phases. Success requires a common view of the executive group in terms of growth strategy and the necessary actions.” (Source: Quum International Oy)

When it’s done right, preparing for internationalization typically takes at least 1–1.5 years for a company, depending on the initial status. In order to succeed in the first phases of internationalization, the company absolutely must analyze its baseline situation in the following subsections, amongst others:

  • Markets: markets in general, business sectors, competition, networks required for business
  • Customers: customerships, marketing, communications, sales structures and operating models,
    management of partnerships and development as a part of the company’s overall strategy
  • Business and value capture models, offering, services, products, “from Order to Delivery” processes
  • Resources required for internationalization: number and quality of staff, competence, financial and IT systems

The critical success factors of international sales are changing powerfully. The key to success is networking-type cooperation based on partnerships, benefitting all parties with a genuine goal to create measurable, positive customer experience and benefit. For this customer need, Business Booster is the most suitable solution.



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