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How Your Business Can Achieve Global Domination

Globalization is an unstoppable trend, so why not take advantage of it?

Published: Tuesday, October 24, 2023 - 11:03

I’m going to take over the world! It’s really fun to say that. It’s even more fun to take action toward that goal.

Our world has gotten smaller. Way smaller. Globalization is an unstoppable trend. But as they say, the trend is your friend, so why not take advantage of it? I don’t care how big or small your business is—there are huge opportunities out there for you beyond the shores of your country (assuming yours has shores).

The real trick is understanding what globalization can do for your business, then figuring out how to exploit those opportunities. Let’s cover some simple notions around what the global opportunities are.

Going global is intimidating: It sounds huge. You need a passport and visas—and we know what a joy those processes can be. You need to understand new languages and cultures. And heaven forbid you have to take a coach class 14-hour flight across the ocean (trust me, it’s painful). OK, so get over it and dive in!

To illustrate, I’ll use examples from two businesses I’ve run: thoughtLEADERS LLC (leadership training) and TIXIT (discounted event tickets). Sure, they’re simple businesses. But they’re microcosms that will help get the following points across.

Think about it simply: Opportunities exist in terms of revenues and costs. It’s not that hard. As far as how to capture the opportunities, it boils down to market entry, product/service delivery, and communication. So let’s go global!

Understanding the opportunities

From the revenue side, if you have a good product or service here, there’s likely a market for it in markets outside your borders. You just need to think through how it might need to be positioned differently.

For thoughtLEADERS, we have to first realize American-style leadership doesn’t translate to all cultures. Nonetheless, our frameworks and approaches are absolutely relevant in many markets around the world. Selling those services just requires us to articulate what the core of our service is and then understand how a particular culture might best receive said benefits.

I’ve recently been lucky enough to teach our Structured Thought and Communications course and Leadership Maxims course in Hungary, Ireland, and Vietnam. Soon I’ll be teaching our thoughtLEADERSHIP course in Colombia and our Building Resilience course in Singapore (and if you’d like us to come teach at your organization, just drop us an email and we’re happy to discuss).

From call-center outsourcing in India to product manufacturing in China to web development in Eastern Europe, the talent is out there. You just have to be savvy enough to find it and use it. Photo by NASA on Unsplash.

Yes, we’ve made modifications to the examples and exercises we conduct in class, depending on the culture, but the core of the service has remained the same. Teaching executive communications in Chicago is different from teaching it to an audience from China, Japan, India, Vietnam, Singapore, or Australia (all in the same classroom!), but nonetheless, with some slight modifications to our service based on the local culture, the programs have been successful.

As you think about the revenue side of the equation, you must think big. Once you understand the core of your offering and how you might have to modify it for different cultures, you must look at the entire revenue pool before cutting it down and determining a specific focus for your business.

For example, at TIXIT, we helped venues sell unsold event tickets. We assessed the opportunity to be huge in the U.S. alone. There were over $1 billion worth of unsold tickets to major sporting events and theater shows every year in the U.S. TIXIT worked directly with the venue to sell those unsold tickets at a discount.

Anyway, as we ran some valuation scenarios to understand our exit opportunity (yes, entrepreneurs, from Day One of running a startup, you must think about how you’re going to exit and for how much), we arrived at some big numbers. Then we asked, “How can those numbers be bigger? Like 10 times bigger?”

Then it hit us—go global. They sell tickets globally, right? There were unsold tickets to events in other countries, too. The core of our service definitely applied in other countries (with some tweaking of how we sold and marketed). Sure, that global expansion was our third growth horizon because we were focusing on our market-entry strategy. Nevertheless, we knew about and planned to pursue that revenue outside our borders.

The bottom line on the revenue side is to define your core offering, identify the markets where it would be the most compelling, and seek that revenue out. Start building that focused list of markets you’d like to penetrate.

The cost side of the equation

As far as costs go, this isn’t news. You can get lower factor costs in a host of other countries. From call-center outsourcing in India to product manufacturing in China to web development in Eastern Europe, the talent is out there. You just have to be savvy enough to find it and use it.

First, take a hard look at all the costs your business incurs (or better yet, the things you want to do but they’re “too expensive”). Now ask yourself, “If I could reduce the cost of that item by 20%, would it be worth the effort to do it overseas?” This is the sniff test to see if you’ll get enough return for the additional complexity of doing something outside your borders.

For TIXIT, our biggest cost was technology development. Writing code isn’t cheap, and for a web startup that’s bootstrapping (like all good startups should and as we explain here), going overseas for development can be a huge cash saver. We did exactly that.

With the help of a partner (Big Kitty Labs) that had existing overseas relationships, we got the best of both worlds—a domestic team to manage our relationship and business requirements/technical requirements, coupled with overseas low-cost development. The results were great.

Risk is also a huge factor on the cost side. You need to be judicious with either how much you send overseas or what categories you source globally. You might want to start with “noncore” elements of your business that can easily be switched back to domestic suppliers (e.g., call-center services, noncore raw materials). There’s nothing worse than civil unrest disrupting the core of your supply chain during your busy season.

The bottom line on costs is to make sure whatever you’re taking overseas is big enough in terms of financial impact and low enough on risk that it makes sense to add that complexity to your business.

Hopefully, this gives you some motivation to think about growing your business globally. The opportunities both in terms of revenues and costs are fantastic. I know it can be intimidating, but given how much smaller our world gets every day due to technology, you can’t afford not to evaluate the opportunity.

Published Oct. 4, 2023, on thoughtLEADERS Brief on LinkedIn.


About The Author

Mike Figliuolo’s picture

Mike Figliuolo

Mike Figliuolo is the author of The Elegant Pitch (Weiser, 2016) and One Piece of Paper (Jossey-Bass, 2011), and co-author of Lead Inside the Box (Weiser, 2015). He’s also the managing director of thoughtLEADERS LLC, a leadership development training firm. He regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog.