‘Business Planning’ Category

Are You Surprising the Competition – Part 1?

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

Business Strategy can take two forms: (1) the direct approach and (2) the indirect approach. The former consists of a direct advance to the competition, culminating in a powerful marketing frontal attack designed to overpower them. The indirect approach involves coming at the opponent from a round-about direction that he is not totally prepared to resist. Throughout history, most great generals have consistently chosen the indirect approach, risking almost anything to catch the enemy with his guard down.

Hannibal led an army of 50,000 Carthaginian infantry and 9,000 cavalry on his famous march across the Pyrenees and Alps. He emerged in Northern Italy to defeat the great Roman commander Saipio’s troops on the bank of the river Ticinus. In a snowstorm, he crushed two Roman armies along the river Trebia. Two more armies under Roman consuls Flaminius and Geminus were raised to block Hannibal’s path to Rome.

Hannibal followed a shorter, but more dangerous route through treacherous marshes to come out on Flaminius’s unprotected flank. Hannibal chose to face the most hazardous conditions, rather than the certainty of meeting his opponents in a position of their choosing. He followed this by hiding his light and heavy infantry and cavalry in gulleys near the road, so they could not be seen, and then taunted Flamininus into a foolish attack by making camp a short distance down the road from his army. As the unsuspecting Romans marched into battle, the Carthaginians poured out of their hiding places and attacked from all sides, decimating them.

Business history also reveals the advantages of the indirect approach. Marketing failures have often resulted from head-on attacks against the entrenched positions of stronger marketing rivals. Even brute force and having sheer resources are often not enough to insure the right outcome.

Surprise has been called “any commander’s greatest tactical weapon.” Confederate General Stonewall Jackson’s maxim: “Mystify, mislead, surprise your enemy.” Clausewitz, the Prussian General maintained that to one degree or another, surprise is, without exception, the foundation of all military undertakings.

Surprise follows a course of least resistance. The most stunning surprises are the result of a novel, creative idea. Creativity many times consists of merely connecting two or more heretofore unrelated ideas or things. Napoleon gained a decisive surprise by connecting cannon and manure. He ordered a rocky mountain road covered with horse droppings to muffle the sound of the wheels of his artillery carriages. This allowed him to move under the cover of night and to surprise his opponent by being in a completely new position in the morning.

In warfare, a preliminary bombardment might weaken the enemy’s lines, but also eliminates any advantage you might have gained by surprise. The use of intensive market surveys and market tests practically give away any hope of sneaking up on the competition. Choosing the element of surprise, a company may quickly enter a market, with the intent of a decisive victory. The idea is to strike quickly and adjust the marketing strategy and tactics as you learn from your encounter.

The element of surprise has worked successfully throughout history, regardless of the field of play. As the mighty Goliath, in his battle array, lay on his back after being hit between the eyes by a small smooth stone launched in a sling by a shepherd boy named David, he no doubt wondered what hit him. By then it was all over, he had lost the battle and the war.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

10 Steps in Buying a Business – Part 3

Monday, March 16th, 2015

This week we look at the final 6 steps to consider when buying a business.

5. Intellectual Property. Is ownership on favorable terms for access to all intellectual property that is relevant to the wellbeing of the business included in the sale price? Are patents which have been valuable in providing market exclusivity in the past, about to run out? Does the business retain the capacity for innovation or personnel that may have been instrumental to its market position in the past? Do you have what it takes to continue provide such innovation?
a. IP may include websites, designs, and other items essential to the business being recognized and found in its market. Check to ensure that the site has not been written and maintained by someone who will not come along – leaving your great marketing machine without a driver, and quite possibly, leaving it in a state that is impossible to be transferred to your marketing people.

6. Non-compete agreement to not allow your seller to become your next competitor. What restraint conditions also apply to your seller – and to the key staff you may be taking on?

7. Facilities. Is the seller going to be your landlord? If so, ensure that you agree on third-party valuations and lease conditions no more arduous than you would face from an unconnected landlord. Ensure you have clarity around your rights to alter the premises to meet future needs. It may be advantageous to include an Option to Buy if the real estate deal makes sense in its own right. Avoid taking on an “obligation to buy” under any circumstances – unless you have carefully assessed value and it is too good to miss.

8. Brains. Is it worthwhile retaining the seller as a consultant for a transition period? If so, make this a formal, paid arrangement (you could carve the projected fee out of the sell price and pay it piecemeal over the period). Utilize a formal agreement as to who does what in terms of results and outputs and for how much. Make sure the termination process is crystal clear.

9. Study is Cheap – Experience is Expensive. Educate yourself on the ins and outs of buying any business before you go ahead and do it for real.

10. Insurance. Work with a professional Business Coach with a proven track record of producing results with their clients across a wide range of industries (including the ones you are looking into) and use them to guide you in:
a. Evaluating the business and how well it fits what you really want from a business.
b. Clarifying your exit strategy. Yep, before you buy, work out how you will get out and when.
c. Negotiating the price.
d. Ensuring a smooth transition so that you retain key staff, customers and suppliers.
e. Installing the systems and processes that will take your new business to a new level, realize its true potential and provide you with a low-stress high-return investment.
f. Developing the coaching skills to lead your management team to success in a way that leaves you with the time and energy to enjoy the quality of life that you desire.

Well that does it. Not for the faint of heart, so make sure buying a business is a necessary ingredient to your future growth and success.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

10 Steps in Buying a Business – Part 2

Monday, February 16th, 2015

Last time we started looking at factors to consider when buying a business. Here is another very important step focused on the financial aspects.

4. Track Record. 5 years of tax returns and their attachments will tend to tell the worst-case story as the owner will have attempted to minimize their tax by minimizing their stated earning. Tax returns tend to provide you with a test for any written back charges that the seller or their accountant may have entered into the P&L and Balance Sheet provided to substantiate their asking price.

a. Attachments will include the Aged Receivables, Inventory and Assets, and will show you the book value of these assets. Those will generally be less than the client is asking since they’ll have written down as heavily as they can to maximize tax advantages.

b. Plant and Equipment and Depreciation Schedules can tell a story. If there is a steady history of updating equipment – leases, rolling over equipment, replacement items, then you know you are unlikely to be taking on too many equipment “time bombs”. Conversely, if the picture these documents paint is one of little equipment upgrading (check the P&L expense items for equipment maintenance) you may find that you are buying into a business that has a massive need for fresh capital investment very shortly after you take over.

c. Reading between the lines of the Aged Receivables will tell you a fair bit about how well this business has been run from a credit and cash flow control perspective for the last few years. This area alone can reveal stress and reasons for your seller to sell. Remember, if their Receivables Ledger shows a bunch of free loading clients, you are about to inherit those, and changing their behavior and habits is likely to be hard, and to result in loss of business as they go elsewhere looking for easy credit. Looking at Current Customers over time will also give you some insights into the average lifetime of a key customer, their lifetime value, profitability, etc. All vital information for the future if you buy, as these will be the lifeblood of the business.

d. Customer Contracts. Assess whether the business has any forward commitments from its customers in the form of 1, 2 or 3 year service or purchase contracts. Assess how sound these are, and how profitable they are. They may be great for bulking up sales numbers, but do they yield profit? You will be asked to pay a factor of their forward value; you had better make sure that value is there.

e. 5 years of Aged Supplier Lists will tell you lots about cash flow within the business and about the relationships you can expect from the suppliers you inherit with the business. Ask for any evidence of recent changes in credit policy by major suppliers as these alone could be the trigger for cash distress and sale, indicating an underlying issue of profitability or management in the business.

f. Supplier/Distribution Contracts. Check to see what on-going and transferable contracts may give you an immediate and on-going advantage in your new business. What is the term of these? How long do they have to run? How advantageous are they? What obligations go with them?

Next time, we will look at the remaining 6 steps.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

10 Steps in Buying a Business – Part 1

Monday, January 19th, 2015

Thinking of buying a business? Then you have come to the right place.

There is probably no situation more pregnant with opportunity – or risk and loss – than buying a business. You can lose by buying “the wrong business” or even buying the right business at the wrong price.

So, if you are thinking of buying a business, here are some key steps you can take to accurately quantify their potential for risk and reward in your hands:
1. Are you looking at businesses in a market in which you already have domain or commercial experience, or will you be an amateur in a market new to you? If the latter, you will need to ensure that:
a. The business comes with a stable, moral key team whom you can grow to like and who can grow to like you as their new owner; or
b. You have access to expert advisors/consultants/coaches who have experience in your new industry and market along with a track record of assisting their clients to succeed.

2. Market Research. The time to do this is before you become a member of a new market by buying a business. If you have a business in mind, compare them and their competition and see how they stack up from the customer-experience point of view. Include such interesting information as market share; relative pricing; quality of service; marketing clout. Tapping into reps from one or two key industry suppliers and asking them for their ideas on the relative ranking of the key players can provide useful insight.

3. Value. Warren Buffet’s rule for buying businesses (besides a track record of strong cash flow, excellent management and a good market relevance) is that they be priced at least 20% below their market value. It means 20% below what you think – and have calculated – they are worth, it does not mean 20% below what other people thing they are worth.

Stay tuned, we are just getting started. We will cover more steps you need to take to assure you are on track.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

It’s Time to Celebrate – Or Is It?

Monday, January 5th, 2015

The opportunities for celebrating a win in business can sometimes be few and far between; starting a new business, raising capital, new product development and launch. After a win there is a time of elation, but also…risk.

After achieving any hard-won goal one faces three types of risks, each with a different origin, but all with the potential for close-following consequential losses. The origins lie in one or more of the following:
1. Exhaustion
2. Complacency
3. Hubris

Exhaustion
Getting across the finish line took everything you had, including the resources required to capitalize on your victory. The cure is:
1. Acknowledge the brilliance of your achievement;
2. Select the next small step beyond your victory;
3. Create a support group from among those co-celebrating your victory. Choose only people with the energy, passion, intelligence and will to assist you in your next step.
4. Tap into the energy, resources and contacts of your support group to recharge your batteries (but don’t fall into the trap of attempting to “lead by committee.”)
5. Pick a date to reengage with your journey and commit to the achievement of your next step – and next victory. Bring the willing along with you.

Complacency
The temptation here is to bask in the glory when you should be harvesting and capitalizing on your winnings. The cure:
1. Celebrate: Have a clear-cut period during which you bask all you like, then
2. Create or refine your plan for “after we win” and set new goals to maintain motivation.
3. Engage any and all future stakeholders in your Plan.
4. Execute the plan: Be prepared to vary it in the light of experience – but don’t vary your goals!
5. Evaluate progress and continually refine your execution.

Hubris
Pride comes before a fall. Any great achievement can temporarily swamp your brain and have you lose perspective. Come back to reality:
1. Ground your thinking in logic, evidence and data. Use that same brain that manufactured your recent victory to gain a clear picture of “what’s really out there.”
2. Choose talented, intelligent and independent trusted advisors who do not depend on you for their living and use them as sounding boards for your ideas. Give their views the weight due to the intelligence which gave rise to them. We can always learn something from someone else.
3. Revisit your Vision, Mission and Values. Drink them in; test everything you are seeing and planning against them. Remain true to them – or change them, but with the same thought and gravity with which you first created them. If your Values shift more than marginally, talk over this fact with the strongest of your Trusted Advisors.
4. Deliberately change your internal and external language to: “We won!”, “The team can . . . “. Encourage yourself to acknowledge all of the contributions that others make to the victories for which you may be the figurehead.
5. Create opportunities for diverse group wisdom to feed into unified decision making, then maintain the team’s commitment to The Plan, only changing parts of it when the feedback says it’s not working (and not going to work). No Plan is perfect, but you can strive for excellence in execution.
6. Focus all discussions on what worked, what didn’t work, what will work, what won’t work. As soon as right and wrong come into the discussion, move exploration towards solutions, plans and action, towards what needs to be done to get a different result. Seek agreement and unanimous commitment towards future action at the end of any post mortem.
7. Excellence + Commitment = Winning. Create a culture that supports the pursuit of personal and professional excellence, that affirms commitment to that standard, and that acknowledges evidence of that culture. Treat any losses as learning opportunities and use the post mortem process outlined above. A wise person once said, “I’ve never learned anything particularly useful from my victories, but my losses have been enormously educative!” Incorporate that perspective into your culture.

As a leader you can do a lot worse than to adopt Sun Tzu’s wisdom in striving to empower your team while divesting yourself of the baggage of ego, by telling yourself, “I am at my best when my people barely know I am there, so that when our work is done and our goals fulfilled, they will say, “We did it ourselves!”

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2015. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Laying the Foundation for a Profitable 2015

Monday, December 8th, 2014

If you have a Vision for your business, now is the time to take it down from the wall, and ask yourself whether it’s still valid. If you have been thinking about it and talking about it with your team during the year, you will are ready to tweak it ever so slightly to make it perfect.

If you don’t yet have a Vision, written out and known to all, then “just do it.” It’s that important. You’ll also be amazed at the effect a well-thought-through and articulated Vision can have in terms of aligning the activities and priorities of everyone on your team.

Vision
A Vision is a clear statement of what you want your business to become – the “Picture of Perfection” of how it could, or will be. The Vision Statement should be:
• A single sentence
• Understandable to a 12 year old, and
• Recallable at gunpoint

Mission Statement
If you think of your Vision as “where we want to arrive”, you can think of your Mission Statement as “the path you will use to attain your Vision”. It needs to be a clear promise to yourself, your team and your Customers about what products and services you will provide, and how you will provide them, to attain your Vision.

Values
“Values” are the words or short phrases you use to answer the question, “What is most important to you in the context of “your business”, “your role in the business”, “your relationship with your children”, etc. As such values are “contextual” i.e., you may find yourself giving different answers for the values you hold dear in different contexts.

Defining your values defines the boundaries of your Mission Statement, the boundaries of the path you will follow to achieve your Vision. Values are the limits beyond which you will not go in pursuit of your Vision. For example, if one of your values is “safe workplace”, everyone in your business will understand that safety will not be sacrificed for profit.

When you are clear on your values, and when have shared those with your team, there is little need for a lot of rules since most “rules” can be inferred from applying your values. Habits that made JD Rockefeller rich were to:
• Have a small number of rules (values)
• Repeat yourself often
• Act in accordance with your rules

Goals

Difficult goals, when accepted, result in superior performance and the corollary to that is also true. Without challenging goals you will experience performance that is less than what is possible.

A moments reflection should convince you to allocate time right now to negotiating goals with yourself for your personal and professional journey; negotiating goals with each of your team members so that you create opportunities to praise and recognize – and occasionally, reward – them. Any person in your business who does not have two or three clear key performance indicators (KPIs) upon which they are focused, is under-performing, under-motivated, under-rewarded and under-recognized.

Now that you know that, I’m sure you’ll address any such oversight quickly.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold

Monday, December 1st, 2014

As a business owner, executive or entrepreneur, there are a lot of “bright shiny objects” out there distracting us.

While the holidays can pull our focus away from work…as it should be, year-round innumerable distractions come into our inboxes every day. There are interesting requests that may capture our attention, but won’t further the ultimate goals of our business. We need to be careful not to get off-track employing the latest fad or acquiring the latest and greatest piece of technology that we don’t actually need.

If bird dogs are not trained to focus on a specific game and hold point, all of a sudden, they can get distracted, and run off in a different direction to chase it. They lose focus, and their goal slips away. Sound familiar?

Focus is key when you run a business, yet it’s so easy to be distracted by the shiny objects. That’s why I have developed end-to-end systems for myself and my clients that serve the primary focus of accelerating their business and personal success.

Hour of Power
The Hour of Power is a focusing tool incorporating three different hour-long blocks during the week, where one specifically focuses on creating the business structure you need.

Research shows that we spend most of our day picking off the easy or quick things, but not accomplishing our high-priority tasks. We’re chasing shiny objects and not working on the bigger vision that’s really going to move our business forward.

So to stay on track with what matters most, here are 3 concepts to deploy:

1. Choose your goal. What is the big vision that you’re moving toward? This could be creating a business structure that supports both client attraction and high-level client conversion, and retention.

2. Reverse engineer from your goal. Break down the steps toward your goal. What are the pieces you need in place to success? For example, it could be to map out your sales conversion process. It would contain all of the elements you would need to create so that you can turn interested prospects into invested clients in any situation.

3. Now, break down those steps into tasks and decide how much time each task needs. Consider breaking down projects into small enough pieces that they can be accomplished in 10-30 minutes, so you can accomplish three tasks per power hour. For example, rather than trying to complete a whole project in one hour, such as a key account strategy, instead you’d break it down into the first element, which might be to brainstorm three options to gain an introduction with a fellow colleague.

Then just turn off your cell phone, shut down your inbox, close your door, set your timer, and start on your first task. Three hours a week may not sound like a long time, but, you’ll be amazed at how much you can transform your business when you’re out chasing highly profitable activities, instead of shiny objects.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

Start here to gain that competitive edge: http://www.ignition-pathway2growth.com/

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Boosting Productivity – It’s About Time (Part 3)

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Continuing on from Part 2, some more tips to make the best use of your valuable time.

Daily Planning
• Take more time for the systematic planning of each day.
• Each day prioritize an action list each day.
• Make complete use of your planner by planning, recording, cross-referencing.
• Keep long-range, prioritized, written goals in your planner and refer to them each time a daily action list or unassigned action list is prepared (The three types are 1. Time Management, 2. Personal goals with the company, and 3. Personal life goals).
• Make a list of the “comfort zone” ideas, people, physical locations, reading, actions, and food, etc. to which you gravitate that are inappropriate.
• Do at least three things daily to leave your comfort zone.

Long Range Planning
• Plan long-range goals as far into the future as you can anticipate.
• By a given date, write, refine and prioritize your unifying principles. Evaluate your personal performance against these principles.
• Review the mission and goals of the company and department at designated times.
• Write, refine and prioritize personal goals with the company by a given date.
• Refine your goals using a standard of excellent performance.
• Refine all written goals, making them, so far as possible, specific and measurable.
• Write personal goals with a balanced perspective so that they include the areas of professional, financial, physical/recreational, social, intellectual/cultural and spiritual. Refine and priorities these goals.
• Write sub-goals to the life goals by raising the question, “How can I cause each of these goals to happen?”
• Build continuity in goal planning by preparing quarterly, monthly and weekly goals from long-range goals, and the daily action list from all of these.
• Share your goals with others and have them encourage you – hold you accountable.
• Occasionally ask “What is the greatest threat to my survival professionally, socially, spiritually, financially, intellectually and physically?”

Avoiding Procrastination
• Prioritize an action list every day, seven days a week, in your planner.
• Set a deadline for each task.
• Do the most vital tasks now.
• Do the most difficult task that is vital first – Eat that Frog!
• Stay with it until it is done.
• Plan interruptions away from your vital priority time.
• Chain yourself to the desk until the overwhelming vital priority is finished.
• Select the best time of the day for the type of work required – work to your rhythm.
• Use your secretary or others to reinforce your vital priorities.
• Turn the difficult task into a game.
• Allow some open space for flexibility.
• When you bog down, leave the project until your energies are renewed.
• Don’t sit on projects.
• Institute a personal quiet hour.

Achieving Results…With Goals
• Always ensure that a goal can be achieved.
• Accept what you cannot change as a fact of life.
• Reward yourself when a goal is completed or achieved.

Reducing…Time Wasters
• Say “NO” when a request is not vital.
• Note and determine what routines might be changed to your and others advantage.
• Reduce socializing time.
* Limit TV viewing to the “vital few.”

There you go – alot of possibilities to select a few to start implementing. Is being more productive worth the effort – I think you’ll find it surely is.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Setting Goals and Achieving Them

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

I ran across a comment from a man who had built a nationally-recognized company from an almost disastrous start-up. The comment was on how goal setting played in his success.

When asked, “Did you formally set goals when faced with that huge challenge in your early days?” he said, “No, I just wrote down in my notebook the targets (profits) each area of the operation had to generate, and I drove and drove until I got those results. I suppose you would call those goals!”

In essence, he met the basic criteria for a goal: He had:
1. A date
2. Precision
3. Positive statement of the end result

Goal setting is like a sailor crossing a windblown bay in a small sailboat that is subject to the tides, currents and wind, who takes the precaution of picking a landmark on the other side of the bay against which he can check periodically. With the landmark fixed in mind, it matters little in which direction the boat might be blown or carried in any single moment just so long as he is always tacking towards their landmark.

My goals are my landmarks. They stop me drifting too far off course and so I  keep them right in my line of sight.

So, where (and what) are yours?

Need Some Ideas? Here’s a possible list for you and your business. Read them carefully and if they strike a chord with you – adopt them, share them with your partners and team.

This year I’m going to …
1. Give myself and my family the priority we deserve, which is priority 1-2-3.
2. Communicate more with my family because my successes and failures directly impact them. Besides, I know they’re genuinely interested in me and what I’m doing.
3. Concentrate on my health because a burned out or dead ‘me’ is no good for anybody and a sick ‘me’ places a burden on others.
4. Be a doer … that is, doing the right things at the right time.
5. Say thanks more often and smile when I say it.
6. Not make a promise unless I can keep it.
7. Utilize my time effectively.
8. Plan my day in advance, and then stick to the plan.
9. Actively look for opportunities.
10. Implement a regular program of calling my customers or clients … just to say ‘hello’ and to let them know that I appreciate their progress.
11. Concentrate on pleasing my existing customers and absolutely loving my big customers.
12. Concentrate on building up my ‘average sale’ by actively up-selling, cross-selling, down-selling!
13. Concentrate on the rule of a ‘penny saved is a penny earned’ and look for cost savings in every area of the business.
14. Communicate more with my staff.
15. Get everyone in my business to ‘do it right the first time’.
16. Schedule regular meetings with my staff to inform them of what’s going on. I’m going to tell them what’s going right as well as what’s going wrong. Above all, I’m going to get them involved, and seek their views and suggestions.
17. Look for people doing things right, comment on their good performances, and reward them appropriately.
18. Delegate more to my staff. First, I’ll find out whether they’re suited to the role and then, I’m going to train the ‘hell’ out of them.
19. Get serious about training … I’m going to train my team into a superior unit.
20. Make my team proud to be associated with my business or division … and I’m going to be mighty proud of ‘me’ when I achieve all of my goals as well!

Finally, I’m going to keep a positive mental attitude and I’m going to be a motivator of others.

Found a few that resonated with you? Then set a date and put them into action!

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.

Revenue Growth Tips – Could be time to build a Global Business

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Have been holding back from taking the plunge to going global? It’s understandable, as it requires a lot of hard work and investment to be successful. Not for the faint of heart. However, it may open up a key area of growth, one where you need not fight over ever smaller small gains in market share domestically. To be successful, you need to invest upfront in market research to gain knowledge of which countries have businesses and consumers with cash, and hold the best opportunity for your products and services. Some efforts I think you should be doing to ramp up your own global business.

1. Set stretch goals – Aim to generate 20-30%, up to 50% of revenue outside North America within three to five years. Why such a big number? If you don’t set a stretch goal, it may not get the attention it deserves and it will become just another project. Stretch goals can generate a level of energy and excitement that will light up your organization. Something that may be missing today.

2. Go native –You can get by in many countries by speaking English, but you’ll have an edge if you hire staff who speak the language. But it goes beyond this. You need to understand customs, the culture and how business gets done in the country. There are ways to slowly enter a country – marketing, distribution before establishing a beachhead, but having someone who is native to the market is hugely beneficial. It is an investment that will return itself many times over.

3. Focus narrow and deep –The tendency is to try to sell the entire product line instead of picking a narrow focus and doing it well. That is a steep learning curve that can lead to disaster. Much better to create an entry strategy that targets one or 2 products, the sales strategy, promotional tools and aids to make a real inroad into the market. As you learn and get established, you can broaden it. This learning period will also allow you to tailor products and services to meet local requirements as well as tuning your marketing, sales and customer service strategy to maximize effectiveness.

4. Source globally –To keep prices competitive, along with and lead and service turn-around times to a minimum, one needs to look for factories and support centers in the country or region. Personnel costs can also be lowered by relying on sales, and service centers located in areas offering either lower wage rates or tax incentives. It can also create business opportunities where local companies or governments give preference to firms with a local presence.

5. Follow your customer –This seems obvious, but many times gets overlooked. To map your route overseas, contact your existing customers or partners and ask if they need your support internationally. If you are a solid supplier with a strong reputation it reduces their risk of supply. It also greatly reduces your risk of going global if you have sales revenue flowing on day one.

Going global is an option that may be closer than you think. Keep watching, we will provide more tips along the way.

Combining Vision and Innovation to Create the Future

© Rich Kohler 2014. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at rich@rich-kohler.com.