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Today, companies large and small are expanding their operations globally for a variety of reasons: lower labor costs, the possibility of a skilled talent pool, and the anticipation of newer, more lucrative markets.
However, just because a company is successful stateside doesn’t mean that success will automatically translate overseas. MIT Sloan Professor José Santos, who teaches the MIT Sloan Executive Education program, Strategy in a Global World, says to succeed globally companies must expand their focus beyond traditional world views.
Tips for Making Your International Business a Success
This is the first post in a series on launching a successful startup.
One of the most common mistakes new entrepreneurs make is trying to be everything to everyone in the hopes of increasing their market share. In the beginning, many new entrepreneurs can be overwhelmed by their own brainstorming taking an “act now, plan later” approach to get a jump on the competition. But the foundation stage of a new venture is critical because it’s the stage when entrepreneurs must define the specific ingredients that make their product or service competitive—the stage where they determine a target market that will use that product or service. Failure to do either could result in a business that never finds its niche, and therefore, never sells.
Thankfully, budding entrepreneurs now have a road map. In Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup, Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, goes beyond theory to outline several concrete steps anyone can take to be a successful entrepreneur. In his book, Aulet stresses the importance of segmenting your market to find the sweet spot that will guarantee a successful business. He defines a sweet spot as that place where a product or service connects with a target audience that will buy, use, and wholeheartedly adopt that product or service, eventually spreading the word to other potential customers.
The return of manufacturing to the U.S., also referred to as the “repatriation” or “re-shoring” by American and non-American companies alike, on the surface sounds like good news for employment. However, this is not necessarily the case.
Although manufacturing output over the last 60 years has grown roughly by 3.7% annually, employment has stayed mostly flat during this time. Why does this continue to be true, even as many companies have been moving manufacturing back to the U.S. since 2010?
The U.S. is unflinching in its optimism and ability to move forward after a crisis, such as the 2008 recession. And yet the drawback to this reflex is the ability to quickly forget what landed us in the situation to begin with. As our economy recovers, we potentially risk a growing complacency and inadequate financial oversight.
Just months ago, the country of Cyprus made global headlines as their banks’ ballooning assets grew far beyond what the country could support. Losing over 4.5 billion euros, the Cyprian banks tried to repair the damage by confiscating secure deposits, affecting the assets and the trust of investors throughout Europe and Russia and causing a ripple effect of investment withdrawals. The contagious effects of this crisis are a warning of how interconnected we are, and how one failed system could halt economic recovery elsewhere.
Most of today’s leadership literature focuses on the two most popular forms of leadership: the visionary leader—the charismatic transformational leader who inspires, or the relationship leader—the mentor who has the compassion and empathy needed to form strong relationships to support their organization.
But the global business world is changing rapidly, from the top down and the bottom up. Organizations are flatter. Boundaries are more blurred. Information moves faster across all levels within an organization. This means that leaders who can innovate and move quickly—leaders who have dynamic capabilities—are more likely to succeed.