Friday, January 24, 2014

Before you consider Going Global, Go Louisiana and Go Texas

Going global can be a very smart and lucrative part of any growth strategy. But dealing with foreign trade laws, logistics, business practices (formal and informal), languages, and time zones can introduce substantial risks to your business model. It is because of these risks I advise my Georgia-based clients, “Before you go global, prove you can go Louisiana and Texas.” 

Why do I suggest this course of action?  By setting up the processes and procedure necessary to be successful in another state you mitigate several of the inherent risks of going global.

Delivering a product or service locally should be quite familiar to you.  If you are a successful company then you likely know your target customers well, you know the competitors you face, and how to get product to their door or how to deliver the specialty services you are known for.  All of this is familiar territory.  Now what would you do if I challenged you to be equally successful in a state a time zone away.  How would you pick the state, how would you sell your product or service there (direct or through distributors), how would you specifically deliver the product or service? How would you support those sales from Georgia?  How profitable would you be doing this?

Now what if I were to challenge you to do this yet again in a state say two time zones away?  What I hope you will do is develop documented processes for analyzing new markets.  This can be done on your own or by engaging a service provider.  And with each new state you will apply lessons learned and fine tune these “export” processes.  The same holds true for processes governing customer support, logistics (delivery of the product or service), employment, quality control and accounting procedures (state taxes).

By going Louisiana and then, say, Texas before going global you will have put in place and exercised many of the same processes and skills necessary to be successful abroad.  These include:

  • new market analysis
  • competitive analysis
  • logistics
  • new territory marketing
  • new territory sales
  • learning and adapting to new tax laws
  • learning and adapting to local business laws
  • learning and adapting to new accounting procedures (taxes)
  • providing customer support after local business hours

The good news is you will be mastering these new skills in an environment where the language is the same, the business culture is quite common, the sales techniques similar, and the overarching governing business and tax laws something you are familiar with.

If, after you succeeded in doing business in Louisiana and Texas, you still feel going global is right for your business, you will only need to master a fairly small number of processes still unfamiliar to your business. Some of these include:

  • doing business in a foreign language
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
  • currency exchange
  • foreign and U.S. trade laws

Don’t get me wrong these can be quite intimidating challenges to overcome and will require expert assistance.  But by now your company will have already proven to themselves it can adapt and succeed in new environments. This is just one more evolution. 

So remember my phrase, “Before you go global, prove you can go Louisiana and Texas.”  Your success will be that much more assured.

Mike Gomez is the founder of Allegro Consulting, an Atlanta-based business growth specialty firm.  He has served as a program manager and business development executive in both Fortune 100 companies as well as small businesses. He has conducted business in over 20 countries. Mike is a guest lecturer at GaTech on international business and at UGA on business planning and sales strategy. He can be reached by phone at 678-908-8433 or by e-mail at Visit