You are on page 1of 8

Women-owned firms comprise 40 percent of all firms in the United

States, according to the Center for Women’s Business Research. They

have implemented imaginative strategies to launch and expand their
firms, including going global.

According to the 2005 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report

on Women and Entrepreneurship, published by Babson College,
London Business School, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation,
there are over 30 million women entrepreneurs in the world.

These businesswomen are seeking new opportunities, taking risks,

sharpening their business skills and crossing borders faster than you
can say “worldwide.”
My observations, garnered from running a successful global business
and serving as a consultant to countless global women business
owners, indicate that women entrepreneurs – and, in fact, all --
entrepreneurs must condition themselves to be Risk-oriented,
Innovative and Proactive (RIP) in order to achieve any reasonable level
of success in the global e-marketplace.

They must also have several elements of education and experience in

play before venturing out beyond their current borders, including
mental and operational readiness, successful business ownership, the
ability to utilize modern technology, and a business with global

How, then, can local entrepreneurs grow global and find success in the
worldwide e-marketplace? Some of the world’s best and brightest
businesswomen share their top 10 tips with us here:

1. Develop trust on a global scale. Nobody knows this better than

Dr. Marsha Firestone, founder and president of Women Presidents’
Organization (WPO), an 11-year-old nonprofit membership
organization of women presidents running multimillion-dollar

“Recently, we celebrated five very successful years in Canada, and in

those five years, we have grown four chapters and are looking forward
to launching a fifth,” she proudly states. “Our rapidly effective
expansion could never have happened without a basis of leadership,
trust and commitment.”

How did she do it? She connected with an influential leader in the
Canadian women’s business community. After numerous
conversations, they established trust because both parties conveyed a
clear dedication to their causes.

“To further validate the WPO as an effective organization, we put our

Canadian potential members in touch with our USA members. Our
WPO-USA members were knowledgeable ambassadors for the
organization and supported our claims with concrete examples from
their experience. That’s how we launched our first chapter in Canada,”
she adds.

Lesson Learned? Show your future partners that you support them.
Also show them that you have support. Have clients, members and
partners who can validate your claims and speak on your behalf.
Referrals from happy clients are the best entry into the global market.

2. Think globally. Before going global, you must develop the right
mindset. That’s exactly what Giselle Rufer, founder and president of
Delance SA, did before she launched her Swiss watch company. She
thought globally.

Famous for successfully launching the children’s watch called Flik Flak
during her tenure with The Swatch Group, Rufer says it is time for
women everywhere to join forces and make the world a better place.

Once Rufer refined her design concept and target market, she
identified the pros and cons of embarking on a global venture. The
pros: She is an engineer and artist and speaks three languages
fluently. The cons: She was a woman over 50 with limited capital in a
country where men between the ages of 35 and 40 are responsible for
most new business start-ups.

She overcame her weaknesses and leveraged her strengths by turning

her cons into pros.

“First, I had to bridge an internal psychological barrier by refraining

from feeling that my femininity and my age were both impediments to
making progress professionally. They are and continue to be
advantages for me,” Rufer says.

“I began to flaunt my maturity, experience, and well-established name

in the watch industry in new and powerful ways. To combat the
financing problem, I became more creative, used synergy and
captured opportunity whenever it came knocking at my door.”

Lessons Learned? “Use a universal language that everyone can

understand. Create your own international network. Concentrate on
common values for your product and your company. Find a unique
selling proposition. And choose a brand you can live with forever,”
advises Rufer.

3. Build a global brand that works locally. Great brands transcend

geography. But to build a great global brand, you must understand the
vital role that your company’s electronic face plays in your success,
says Marilynn Mobley, senior vice president of Edelman, the world-
renowned PR firm.
“People all over the globe turn first to the Internet to learn more about
brands and companies. Your website should be as helpful, insightful
and appealing to someone in Asia as it is to someone in Arizona. Scrub
your promotional material and web copy to ensure that it isn’t too
locally focused.”

Mobley adds that a strong brand must be backed by more than an

international website. She warns that a business can’t talk its way out
of something that it behaved its way into. In other words, a strong,
positive brand must be supported by matching positive behavior.

And don’t assume that throwing more money into PR and advertising
will resolve challenging issues with your brand, she says. Fix the
fundamental problems first. Then use PR and advertising to bring
awareness to how – and why – things are better.

“Your best brand ambassadors are right under your nose. Enlist your
employees and other stakeholders, such as business partners and
alliance relationships to take your messages global,” Mobley advises.

“Don’t release information or key messages externally until you are

certain your own employees can tell your story as well as your PR firm.
Increasingly, blogs are playing an important role in improving brand
visibility and loyalty.

“Encourage employees to share their enthusiasm about your brand in

their own words through blogs and message boards. Research shows
that ‘people like me’ are seen as more credible than even the CEO of a

Lesson Learned? “Taking a brand global isn’t a matter of doing what

you have always done on a larger scale. Public relations strategies that
work in the United States won’t always work in other countries. Seek
the advice and counsel of PR experts who have experience and
relationships with the media in the marketplaces you are entering.

“Missteps early on can be hard to overcome. You aren’t just entering a

new marketplace; you are integrating into a new community. And each
community has its own personality and loyalties.”

Debra Guzov of Guzov Ofsink LLC, a New York-based international law

firm, takes the personality of each new marketplace into account when
building the company’s global brand.
“To establish our brand overseas, we selectively market by going to
conferences domestically and overseas where we will be able to target
particular audiences,” she says.

Guzov also knows that another important step in building a global

brand that works on a local level is using experts who can connect
different cultures.

“To develop the Chinese market, we use native Chinese-speaking

attorneys who are licensed in the U.S. and China,” she explains. “This
facilitates a natural bridge between our clients in China and the U.S.
corporate and securities market.”

Lesson Learned? Effective branding is a big part of building a positive

reputation, making it the most important asset a company can have,
especially abroad. The brand must be at the center of everything you
do to promote your products around the world.

4. Educate your customers. Go beyond simply selling to your

overseas customers and build real relationships with them.

For example, Debra Guzov of Guzov Ofsink LLC, a New York-based

international law firm, says, “We are truly counselors to our clients
because not only do we offer legal services, but also we believe an
integral part of our business is education.

“From explaining the intricacies of our securities regulations to our

clients, to explaining the procedures and requirements for litigating in
the courts of the United States, no question should go unanswered.”

Lesson Learned? “Make it your duty to educate your clients by allowing

them to enter any market with ease,” Guzov says.

5. Outsource to grow your business. To be competitive in the

global marketplace, companies must continually reduce costs.

“Any non-core function such as IT, accounting or marketing can be

outsourced, enabling a business owner to focus on core capabilities
and competencies,” says Reena Batra, founder and CEO of Texas-
based SPI, a global provider of IT solutions.

Batra suggests visiting the outsource facility at least annually, chatting

weekly, reporting at least monthly, and evaluating everything
quarterly. This allows you to tweak the process to meet the needs of
both parties.

Lesson Learned? Take time to develop a relationship with the

outsource company. Patience is crucial. Communication is essential.
And, rhythm, once established, allows you to reap many benefits.

6. Connect and collaborate with local markets on foreign

ground. Your local chamber of commerce, the Internet and local
companies in the United States that have an offshore capability are
willing and able to help,” adds Batra.

Technology has made it much easier to do things better, faster or

cheaper and connect everyone on the planet. There is a huge pool of
talent that can now participate in the world economy.

But with every connection you make, you must first develop cultural
sense and sensibility in order to take you closer to your global goal.

Lesson Learned? Adapt to local culture and tastes. Set up partnerships

abroad to grow faster. Allow locals to do the work.

7. Find cross-border customers. Before you can do business

overseas, you must first locate customers. Start with your own
government’s information resources.

In the U.S., try the Department of Commerce

(, The U.S. Commercial Service
( or the U.S. Small Business Administration
(, advises Tess Morrison, former director
of the International Trade Center at University of Illinois, Urbana-

“In other parts of the world, do a search using your country’s top
search engine. We use Google.”

Lesson Learned? Don’t go it alone when going global. Tap into the
resources available to you and the world can become your oyster.

8. Hire the best from around the world. UPS is one of the biggest
movers, shakers and globalizers in the world. The company has
achieved great global success through the astute management of the
organization’s most valuable asset: its employees.
“UPS has had a history of a very strong promote-from-within culture –
it’s really part of our company’s DNA,” says Karen Cole, spokesperson
for UPS International.

“Most of our company leaders have had operations experience and

held a variety of management positions. The same holds true for
women in senior positions at UPS – they have been promoted within.”

Lesson Learned? Build your culture from within and cultivate your
talent pool from the ground up. Encourage senior management to play
active roles in the local community so they can connect with promising
people who might be a fit for potential entry-level positions.

9. Establish payment methods. Many young global companies fear

dealing with how to get paid or how to finance their transactions, says
Morrison. Overcome these concerns by agreeing on terms of payment
in advance.

If you choose to forego the consultation of your banker or trade

specialist, PayPal ( is a safe bet for advance payment
on transactions less than U.S. $10,000.

Beyond PayPal, there are other viable online collection methods that
may work better for you. VeriSign’s CyberCash (
or Worldpay ( both accept multi-currency
payments and offer specialized options.

For larger transactions, or AVG Letter of Credit

Management, LLC ( are two reputable companies
offering Letters of Credit that guarantee payment.

Lesson Learned? Never, ever sell on open account to a brand new

customer. No ifs, ands, or buts. Just don’t. There are plenty of ways
to safely collect payment in advance.

10. Navigate through – not around – bureaucracy and red tape.

Complying with global regulations can be a daunting process.

For example, take the rising economic giant of China, which has a
culture, history, and political system significantly different from
countries in the West.

“China’s Foreign Exchange Regulation facilities are so strictly controlled

by the government that currency and business exchanges can have
numerous complications,” says Linda Bi, President of Illinois-based
Chicago Expert Importers, a leader in the axle component industry.

“We once exported a sample of sporting good knives to China. We

supplied all the proper documents,” explains Bi, adding that they used
a reputable air carrier.

“Surprisingly, our suppliers in China had difficulty retrieving the

shipment. Apparently, they were supposed to inform the Import
Licensing Department, Foreign Exchange Regulator, Overseas Banks,
and other facilities ahead of time. Our suppliers had to pay an extra
licensing and processing fee, and this consumed a lot of additional

Lesson Learned? “Be careful, be aware, and be sure to communicate

extensively with business associates overseas before taking any
action,” says Bi.

Global entrepreneurship, particularly by women, is diverse and

pervasive worldwide. To succeed worldwide, companies must use best
practices such as the above, present something new, be the best at
something, and offer it everywhere with the heart and will to succeed.
You can make the world your business.

Laurel Delaney runs, a Chicago-based firm that

specializes in international entrepreneurship. She is also the creator of
The Global Small Business Blog (
and Women Entrepreneurs GROW Global
( Laurel can be
reached at or 773-381-1700.

Copyright ©2009 Laurel J. Delaney. All rights reserved.