Companies that operate internationally are more innovative, make more money and have a bigger impact on their communities. They’re also better places to work.
Relatively speaking, there very few small companies doing business internationally ... If you don't believe me, check out the statistics:
- In the US <5% of small businesses export or operate internationally.
- In Australia, the figures are equally depressing, with <10% of small companies selling abroad (we have millions fewer firms than the US).
- In the UK, the figure is quite a lot higher at around, 21%, but then again, until recently the UK was part of the EU, which made selling to European countries a breeze.
- In Canada around 12% of small businesses export or operate internationally (possibly related to the fact that Canada has a comparatively lower number of small businesses than either the US or Australia).
- Germany is the standout of the bunch, with 98% of small German firms ("mittelstand") selling internationally.
In the last few years, technology has made it far easier than at any time in the past for companies large and small to grow beyond their domestic market and I believe that there has never been a better time for small companies in particular to explore the big wide world out there. But most of them don't. I believe that there are three reasons for this.
Many small businesses are so focussed on surviving in their local market that they never take the time to educate themselves on the huge opportunities that they could be accessing (for many, 95% of the people they could sell to are located somewhere outside their home country).
Others recognise the opportunities on offer, but are stumped by "the tyranny of how". They don't have the expertise, time or resources to figure out how to expand internationally and so the project ends up in the "too hard" basket.
It’s easier than you think
Some companies have already tried selling abroad (without the right strategy in place) and failed. They are so scarred by the experience that they never try again.
While these are all valid reasons, the net result is that an awful lot of people are leaving an awful lot on opportunity (and money) on the table. And I reckon that's a shame. Because the truth is, it's easier than you think.
There are small companies that have started on someone's kitchen table or garage, or been funded using a credit card (I'm thinking of Atlassian here) and have gone on to do huge things and make a global impact.
At the International Business Accelerator, we’re passionate about giving small companies the chance to be internationally successful.
So I've decided to offer a handful of companies the chance to get their 2018 off to a flying start, by showing them what it takes to get your company on to the international stage.
On February 15, we’re running our first IBA Open Day, to give you a taste of what it’s like to be part of a community of visionary entrepreneurs who are all striving for international success. We're going to talk about what it takes to be ready to expand overseas and whether you have it.
I'm pumped to get to spend time with a bunch of visionary entrepreneurs who share a dream to make something great from a small start. If that's you, I'd love to meet you on 24 January.
We’re accepting a maximum of 20 people to the session, so grab your ticket to IBA Open Day now to make sure you make 2018 your best year ever!
Cynthia Dearin is an international business expert, business author and keynote speaker on the topic of leadership. She owns Dearin & Associates, an international business consulting firm specialising in fast-growing emerging markets, which provides companies with the commercial intelligence and strategies, cultural skills and trusted contacts that they need to succeed in new countries.