With today’s financial crisis, many women business owners are steering away from going global with their businesses. A poll of our Women Presidents’ Organization members shows that 74 percent have not gone global and 68 percent do not plan on going global in 2009. Yet, even in a struggling economy, global expansion can be beneficial. Not only will it create jobs and produce growth and wealth, but also enhance local competitiveness and pave the way to larger more lucrative customers.
Laurel Delaney, president and founder of GlobeTrade.com, a consulting and marketing solutions company for entrepreneurs seeking international expansion, and WPO member, believes that women have several advantages that support why they should expand their businesses globally. She explains, “As women, it’s always been our job to know about etiquette and appropriate social behavior. Understanding foreign cultures, customs, and protocol is absolutely essential if you want to succeed overseas. When you respect foreign ways, it’s noticed—and appreciated.”
Laurel also offers some helpful tips for women who enter the global arena to have a better chance of success. Firstly, you’ve got a product they want, or you wouldn’t be there in the first place, second, put your knowledge on the table, look your associates in the eye and tell them what you know, natural confidence commands respect, and finally, stay focused on doing the job you flew halfway around the world to do and nobody else can stop you.
Before you can go global, you must do your homework and research your potential markets, and the countries you want to expand to. It is essential to get in contact with an international banker who will be able to give advice on potential risks and financial structure in the company. Be sure to watch out for foreign laws and customs, if they do not fit with your business, look elsewhere.
Leslie Meingast, President and CEO of The Personnel Department & Galt Group Companies, also encourages women business owners to embrace the differences in other countries, make connections because people will want to help you, and to not expect the rules to be the ones you are used to. As an international entrepreneur, Meingast explains that some countries may respond to women in leadership better than others, get advice prior to your departure to avoid offending another country’s culture.
The Women Presidents’ Organization expanded internationally beginning in 2001 with chapters in Canada, then Peru, and most recently in the UK. This growth has not only added diverse perspectives but also depth to the organization and global views for the WPO. It is crucial for North American women entrepreneurs to be conscious of the differences in cultures and business practices when going global.
Photo courtesy of Women’s Presidents Organization