Last weekend Francisco Gomez, the head of our Latin America Operations, was in the office to conduct a traditional spring cleansing of sorts. All over Mexico and much of Latin America, March is seen as a time for renewal and celebration of life.
As a part of this ritual cleansing, it is common practice to put white Chrysanthemums in the entrance to one’s business. So on the Monday after the ritual Canada Export Centre “cleanse”, I was pleasantly surprised to see these beautiful flowers in our lobby.
Not long after I arrived, Jim Leung, the head of our China Operations, came in to my office with a concerned look on his face. “Who died?” he whispered.
“Pardon?”, I answered with surprise.
“The Chrysanthemums in the lobby, who died?”
In China, Chrysanthemums (specifically white ones) signify death.
We all have or have heard of the challenges involved in building your business overseas. I think most would agree successfully achieving overseas goals can be incredibly rewarding on many levels. One of those rewards is a greater understanding of our world and the rich diversity of the people within it.
The following describes what goes in to establishing the right export objectives. We know that a commitment to and an understanding of your CORE VALUES and CORPORATE VISION is critical to setting and attaining your overseas business objectives.
The following was written by the Head of Market Development.
Setting Export Business Objectives: You will never know if you were successful or not without them.
Ask the right questions
Having spent several years in Asia and in Europe, I have worked with companies ranging from large multinationals to smaller operations seeking access to new markets, and can attest to the alarming lack of preparedness among many. The inclination is to dive into a market head first, without taking the time to answer the questions success hinges upon.
How large is the market segment?
Is there enough value there to warrant entry efforts?
Who is our competition?
What will the costs associated with entry be?
What type of adjustments will I need to make to my product?
Do I have the time & resources necessary to make this happen?
Develop Commitment & Objectives
Answering these types of questions allows you to form an export plan. A plan without objectives is no plan at all. Take the time to develop your export related core values, your vision for the company, and your objectives regarding sales or otherwise. Carefully considering your company’s present situation and the markets you are targeting is a part of this process. You might ask yourself what impact do core values or an export vision have on my company’s bottom line? They won’t generate sales, so why should I care? This is false; they do in fact impact your bottom line, and in today’s economic climate, where diversifying beyond our traditional export market is more important than ever, taking the right approach and being prepared will give you an edge. As the example below illustrates you often only have one shot at getting it right in new markets.
Failure in China
We dealt recently with a company looking to enter the Chinese market we found them a distributor who more than matched their needs. Negotiations were progressing nicely, that is until the Canadian company visited the distributor in China. Unwillingness to spend time building the relationship outside of a business context, to adapt the product to the market, to consider the requests made by the Chinese party, ended up ruining any chance of a partnership developing, and severely tarnished the Canadian company’s reputation in the eyes of a leading distributor.
This is one of many examples of a lack of commitment & planning on the part of many Canadian Exporters costing them potentially millions in revenue. North American approaches to doing business in a market such as China’s don’t often work, and taking the right approach starts with embracing culture & change. This can be built into a company’s Core Values. So many Canadian companies are focused on the domestic market.Embracing the concept of cultural awareness and a commitment to making the changes to ensure this Core Value is upheld helps guide organizations as they shift focus to new markets. It also sets the stage for the development of an Export Vision, and firm Export Objectives to shoot for.
Be prepared to adapt and make the changes necessary to your mindset to be successful in new markets. Making a commitment to defining your Core Values, Vision and Objectives is critical to achieving success.
Deeply held values that will motivate and sustain your exporting plans.
Example: Embracing Culture & Change
A clear view of the future of the organization and the challenging milestones that will get you there.
Sales, profit, brand, positioning or market share targets for specific markets and segments over a period of time.
The Canada Export Centre specializes in helping companies build international successes. We can help you identify the right questions, answer those questions then execute.
If you would like to discuss your company’s goals please feel free to contact us.
Mark Mensing, President & CEO