All the things they never tell you: Inconvenient truths about international business

February 15, 2013 by Juha Merinen

Let us admit the truth by stating the obvious: businesses today are under tremendous political and economic pressure to secure growth by expanding to regional and international markets: revenue growth, job creation and skills development are all key drivers. Keep on reading and find out what we all have to do to make the difference.

Alert! – The Importance of Final Lap

Companies that are successful in international markets provide employment, and also contribute significantly to government tax revenues. Not surprisingly, there is a wide range of government agencies and services dedicated to supporting companies seeking growth overseas. So government also has a stake in business internationalization.

There are several valuable players at national and regional level providing a solid head start for businesses to grow globally. But an extra push is needed to ensure that they have the capability to execute expansion plans and excel in international markets. There is a need to focus on areas critical to success in international markets at the strategic and operational level – sales development, customer account management, and stakeholder communications. SMEs also desperately need support in growth execution, measurement for accountability, and competence development.

Filling in the gaps: Ensure the Finnish SME is the winner in the Final Lap

The strengths of most internationalizing service providers lies in business incubation and internationalization programs that identify and fund start-ups with potential, provide financing for technical product development,
help to map out markets for expansion, and stake out possible business or channel partners in external markets.

These are all essential services for gaining a foothold outside the home market. But once feasibility has been established, markets identified and channel partners recruited, and products fine-tuned – what next?

Is there support for guiding companies in managing key customer relations, plotting and implementing sales development programs, or even for crafting and measuring a communications strategy in the target market?

Our investigations have led us to believe that the answer to this critical question is ”No.” There is a gaping hole
in the services – essentially an implementation gap. This gap means there is limited support for implementing expansion plans in the critical areas just mentioned, measuring them against strategy to help determine ROI, nor does it ensure that learning takes place within the organisation.

In the current scenario, internationalizing companies are only provided with a partial toolbox for the journey toward international success. They are given handouts of fish, not taught how to fish for themselves. Clearly more is needed
the gap must be filled.

Execute, Build Muscle and Measure!

A genuine customer promise has to follow on the solid foundation provided by national and regional internationalizing programs, by providing internationalizing support in customer relations, sales development
and communications strategy.

It has to focus on analysis, planning, execution and measurement while ensuring lasting organizational strengthening.

It has to engage deeply with the clients to ensure that they complete the journey to successful internationalization by accelerating competence development via customer specific coaching and training.

The holistic offering is to complement the existing supplier ecosystem and to guarantee customer specific coaching and training that addresses the concrete needs of international business and that goes far beyond the technology, financing and product orientation of most existing programmes.

Once more internationalization is to support customer relations, sales development and communications strategy.
It has to focus on analysis, planning execution and measurement, and ensure lasting competence development.

The big payback

There is a huge payback for companies in working this way – and the benefits also escalate nationally, in terms of job creation, increased tax revenues, and deeper competence development.

Our ultimate goal is to provide companies embarking on international sales growth, with the road map, tools, resources and organisational skills required to achieve their objectives. Among several other key target markets like EU, China, US and India we are operating towards Russia as one of the key countries in our scope of enabling Finnish SMEs to go international.

Moreover, we stick around to help businesses design meaningful metrics to measure the progress and success of internationalization efforts. This really is the only way to measure and evaluate the return of investment of expansion plans.

For example: implementing this structured and process-based approach, from analysis, to planning and execution with clear performance metrics, provides a clear view of problem areas, and makes it easier to take corrective action when it’s needed.

Working through the internationalization journey as a longtime partner brings a number of benefits:

  • Identification of and focus on key success factors for international growth
  • A clear, structurized and  process based roadmap and implementation plan for internationalization and growth
  • Clear and measurable Key Performance Indicators and milestones for development
  • Measurable targets for assessing growth progress
  • More effective communication and coordination of business activities
  • More effective allocation of key resources
  • Alignment of all business areas with strategic goals (everyone rowing in the same direction)
  • Swift identification and correction of operational challenges
  • Better quality accelerated growth

Our Mission

Our mission is to help businesses accelerate meaningful international growth by complementing the existing ecosystem and plotting a path to measurable international competitiveness, while building up organisational muscle.

We work to eliminate all road blocks to ensure businesses reach their internationalization goals!


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