Posted: September 4, 2018
Going Global Series: This is the fourth in a series of four articles where Greg Allnutt interviews NZ international business leaders to understand the leadership challenges and to share some of their insights.
The opportunities for exporting or going global are obvious, such as entering new markets, better positioning closer to markets, spreading risk, and of course achieving growth and scale. There are any number of challenges that a bank adviser will tell you such as exchange rates and fluctuations, payment terms, logistics time frames, legal requirements, customs and tariffs. But what about the leadership challenge as a key piece to understand? So I took the opportunity to interview four NZ international business leaders that I work closely with, to understand the leadership challenges and to share some of their insights. You will notice some key themes.
4. Foot Science International
As the leader of an international export business producing Formthotics, Greg Thompson, General Manager of Foot Science International, identifies that for New Zealand businesses it is often necessary to have a real niche, and as such going international early is a necessity. When doing so you need to be export and marketing lead. Often businesses start as a technical or product lead businesses but soon need to adapt as they go international. He identifies that when going into a new market the power of focus is key, and not a shot gun style approach. pick a new market, eg the US, then pick 5 key entry states, then pick the key cities in each state, then the key retailers in those cities, then pitch to those five.
If entering multiple international markets over time, you also need to understand that one operating model doesn’t fit all, and you may need to adapt your approach and model to each market. Greg also identified if a business was on the cusp of becoming and export or global business, it was key to have market knowledge, and also knowledge and experience of international sales and marketing – ie someone who has been there and done it, as a key capability enabler. He also said if you can, don’t underestimate the effect of boots on the ground to create momentum in key market entry strategies.
My thanks to these four leaders for sharing their time and insights.
This blog was written by Greg Allnutt, Strategic Advisor at Advisory Works.
For many New Zealand businesses, especially those in manufacturing, primary goods, or IT sectors, at some point early in their business life cycle, consideration for becoming a global enterprise is a serious option, and I predict that this probably before businesses of a comparative size in other countries need to face this same challenge. Part of this is that New Zealand only has a domestic market of about 4 million people, the equivalent size of some small cities around the world, and so to grow and scale they need to enter foreign markets and lead global businesses. As such nearly a third of all NZ small to medium business (ie 25% employing 6-19 and 28% of those with 20+ employees) are exporters. And they export to Australia, China, US, Japan and UK, and many many others.
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