Get Your Share!©
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Get Your Share!©
By Maria Velez de Berliner, President, Latin
US services, technologies, and innovations are sought after
by every country. And more foreign
companies are entering the US
daily; they need strategic allies and joint-venture partners, particularly if
their objective is to enter the federal space.
This is the reason why the US
government has entered into Free Trade and Trade and Investment Framework
Agreements (FTAs and TIFAs) with countries such as Australia,
Chile, Morocco, Uruguay, and others. And don’t forget NAFTA, the FTA between Mexico, Canada,
and the US, which made North America the world’s second largest trading bloc.
The EU is the first.
When a Free Trade Area of the America’s becomes reality, you will
have low or free-tariff entry to 34 countries, with a GDP of US$12 trillion, and
800 million consumers – just in your backyard!
Based on 2006 figures of the International Monetary Fund,
business transactions outside the US represent US$32 trillion dollars
Wouldn’t you like to get your share of it? Certainly, and you can. Being a small business does not preclude you
from it. But it does require that you
compete on your capabilities, not on your socioeconomic classification,
a qualifying category that does not exist in foreign markets.
What do you need to know to take advantage of foreign
opportunities? Here are 11 easy steps to
get you started:
the US’s FTA or TIFA agreements, which are at http://www.ustr.gov/Trade_Agreements/Section_Index.html,
particularly the chapters applicable to your industry, to identify
opportunities. For NAFTA go to http://www.mac.doc.gov/nafta/. Or study
your industry needs in countries that have friendly relations with the US, such
as the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia,
New Zealand, Israel, and Japan; the best source is www.google.com. Go to the local library and read The Economist and the Financial Times to learn what the
world’s industry leaders are doing, planning to do, where, and with whom. They
are the bellwethers of where your industry is going, the challenges it faces,
and how they might be overcome.
you are in Virginia,
attend in-bound trade missions sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic
Development Authority/International at http://www.fairfaxcountyeda.org/international_offices.htm. And don’t forget the International Office of
the Virginia Development Partnership, http://www.yesvirginia.org/Default.aspx.
The foreign companies they bring are
vetted and are interested in establishing relationships with you. They are coming to you! All states have similar organizations and
a member of The ASBC’s Global Initiative - GI. It has established a
collaboration agreement with the Embassies of the UK
and New Zealand. The embassies of Canada,
Australia, Chile, and Mexico will follow. The ASBC’s GI can help you make contact with
their competent staffs, which sponsor in-bound trade missions, too. They will help you identify potential allies
in their countries and match you up with foreign companies that are seeking
strategic allies in the US.
that every country is different, that there are significant differences within
countries, and that there no monolithic regions. Poland
are both in the EU, but their market drivers are dissimilar. This is why the information resources above
your competitive advantage, your key market differentiator. This is what you are taking abroad or selling
to foreign companies interested in doing business with you here. All things being equal, why should they do
business with you and not your competitor? Your competitive advantage needs to
be communicated in their language and cultural context, not yours.
that your competitive factors and technology or processes are transferable to
the market you are seeking. Check with
the DOD or the DOC if you need export permits.
Learn which local laws or cultural perceptions enable, prohibit or
impede transferability. When dealing
with the European Union, remember that the CE Mark seal of approval must appear
on all products or software applications for sale within the Union,
clear about the strengths and weaknesses of your marketing and sales
campaigns. Determine how current they
are and their cross-border meanings. Do
your taglines and slogans mean the same in, for example, Japan, Australia,
Chile, and Morocco? For example, the original Oreo cookie did not
sell in Brazil
because the dark cookie looked burnt to the Brazilians - a lighter-color cookie
conquered that market!
your domestic sales cycle and your product/service’s life cycle and multiply it
by two.Unless you have the newest iPod
or Google search engine, international sales cycles can be two to four times
longer than in the US. This is because foreign markets prefer
leading technologies since such new products grant the early-entrant advantage
of low or no competition. The older or more
common the technology is, the longer the sales cycle will be.
that not “everybody speaks English.” Your company will need to communicate in
the language and culture prevalent in your chosen market, the language of your
customers. Your vision, objectives, corporate image, marketing and sales
collaterals must be meaningful to them. For example, safety and security have
different meanings in English; in the Romance Languages only one word, seguridad, means both; in Chinese, levels
of security and safety depend on the tone used to pronounce the word.
10) Unless you have worked or lived in
the market you choose, use an independent source that has done so to help you
identify the in-country region where you will be most competitive. Use the same source to help you perform due
diligence to define the strategic positioning of your product, and to work with
you to identify, articulate, implement, and manage your foreign partner or
strategic alliance. The cost of this
source is not an expense; it is an investment in your future success, an
up-front savings in time, energy, and money.
11) Obey at all times the US laws that regulate your doing
business abroad or establishing a state-side relationship with a foreign
company. They are: US Patriot Act of
2001 and its Amendments; the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; the Denied
Persons List of the DOC; the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons
List of the DOJ’s Office of Foreign Asset Control; the Designated Foreign
Terrorist Organizations list of the DOS; and, the US Money Laundering Statutes. All subject your company to the ”duty to know” legal doctrine of the US.
Does this sound daunting, corroborating that you should stay
safe and protected within the US’sconfines?
No, it does not! Many of your competitors
have done it without the benefit of these 11 points; some have regretted not
knowing them prior to going abroad. Your
additional advantage is that here you have what you need to know to increase
your probability of success and reduce risk.
There is much to gain from being a knowledgeable, prepared, and informed
If you follow these 11 points, you will get your share of
the international market.
Maria is a Member of The ASBC and Chair of The ASBC Global Initiative Committee.
© 2002-2007 Maria Velez de Berliner and Latin Intelligence
Corporation. A one-time permission
granted to The American Small
Business Coalition – to reprint by Maria Velez
de Berliner and Latin Intelligence Corporation, Alexandria, Virginia,
18 February 2007.