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WOM EN I N COMPA NIES OF A LL SIZES A RE TA KING THEIR BUSINESS

A ROUND THE GLOBE – AND TO THE BANK.
BY E L A I N E S. P OV I C H
PH OTO G R A PH Y B Y C H R I S TO PH W I L H E L M

arah McCann, president and CEO of Apex Per- Women are learning how. In a 2006 survey by the Women’s
formance Systems, vividly remembers the first tenta- Business Enterprise National Council, an advocate for women-
tive toe she dipped into international markets. owned businesses, 25 percent of the group’s members said they
The call came in 1986. Come to France, said the organizers currently conduct business outside the United States.
of a European business conference. See Paris and, while you’re “A lot of business owners are getting into the international
at it, meet international entrepreneurs and try to sell them on market,” says Marilyn Johnson, vice president of market devel-
doing business with your sales training and management con- opment for IBM. “Women are looking for ways to capture new
sulting business. markets and grow without adding brick and mortar.”
McCann accepted the invitation and decided to tack on a few
days for a Parisian vacation too. “Were there any butterflies? R E A D Y T O G O — O R NO T ?
Sure,” she recalls. “What will they think of Americans? Will But how to get started? Where do business
our ideas be accepted? And the worst case, will they boo us owners go to get international clients, or
out of the auditorium?” partners, if not during a weekend in Paris?
There were no boos. And things worked out better than she While business conferences are one way to begin, there are
could have hoped. That conference led to two clients. One be- lots of other considerations to make first, say experts like Laurel
came the firm’s biggest customer for a number of years, Delaney, the self-described “queen of global” who owns and
adding about a quarter of a million dollars to her bottom line. runs a firm designed to help companies develop business in-
Another became a favorite client and a lifetime friend. Today, ternationally. Delaney’s company, Global TradeSource Ltd.
Apex Performance Systems, while based in Madison, Wis., (globetrade.com),“serves as a roadmap to doing business with
and Chicago, has clients from Jordan to New Zealand and the world,” she says.
many places in between. Although selling software in South Africa, services in Sing-
McCann’s experience is just one example of the way women apore or technology in Tajikistan may sound exotic, compa-
entrepreneurs are tapping into global business. They are ex- nies considering a leap abroad should ask tough questions
panding their markets, working with local representatives in about the nature of their business to determine whether or
the countries they target, and seeking innovative partners or not it’s even ready to go overseas, according to Delaney and
inexpensive manufacturers all over the world – an increasingly others. For example:
“flatter” world, where companies everywhere are connected on Is the business already successful? Overseas markets are
a more level playing field as if they were neighbors. Thomas no place for a struggling company. “I ask key questions to
Friedman, author of The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the determine if the business is in the ready stage,” Delaney says.
Twenty-First Century (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005), says, “You have to have a proven business model here in the United
“If you want to grow and flourish in a flat world, you better States. You have to have taken the transaction all the way to
learn how to change and align yourself with it.” the end and kept up locally.”

58 | April.May 2007 | © PINK magazine 2007
SHE’S GOT THE
W HOLE
WOR LD

© PINK magazine 2007 | April.May 2007 | 59
Does the business translate to foreign mar- already infiltrating overseas markets merely by being on the
kets? Growing companies should never assume that Web. “What we’re finding is through technology and the invest-
“the way business is done here is the way business is ment in technology, you are a global business if you’re using
done there,” says Rich Sloan, co-founder of StartupNa- the Internet,” Johnson says. Sloan advises that companies con-
tion (startupnation.com), an online resource that helps entre- ducting most of their business online should think internation-
preneurs. Furthermore, a product or service in demand in ally – dedicating versions of their website to each target market’s
America won’t necessarily be in demand – or be seen as language and tastes – in order to boost sales overseas.
affordable – in just any foreign market. For example, Amer- Experts also suggest that less experienced companies find
ican-made electronics shipped off the shelf may be useless to a someone in a new foreign market to serve as a local presence,
buyer in Austria if they don’t plug into Austrian outlets. such as an account representative or salesperson who knows
Can manufacturing keep up with the increased demand? the territory, or a foreign company acting in partnership.
Orders may come in more quickly than expected when a com- “If I’m interested in distributing a product in Germany and
pany’s customer base suddenly swells. Can local supply keep up? I’m based in Topeka, I will be very well-served by someone in
Will current banking and financial systems handle orders Germany who understands the lay of the land and has resources
from overseas? Wire transfers and international credit transac- to help me penetrate,” Sloan says.
tions can be tricky, but the larger U.S. banks handle thousands Sheryl Prince and Allison Doorbar, senior planner and man-
of such exchanges each day – helping companies avoid most of aging partner, respectively, at JWT Education, provide market
the headache. research, strategic marketing and services to clients in the edu-
Can the present transportation system ship door-to-door cation sector. They also advise educational clients from the
overseas? Late orders can squelch new business before it starts, U.S. to the U.K., Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. Door-
and the average small to mid-size company can’t handle inter- bar started a company in Australia, which later merged with
national logistics on its own. Fortunately a wide range of third- JWT. From the company’s base down under, international ex-
party logistics providers, including UPS, FedEx, DHL and pansion was a no-brainer because there are just 38 universities
dozens of others, can manage the entire supply chain, includ- in Australia, while there are 3,000 in the U.S. and 168 in the
ing customs and foreign delivery. U.K. Doorbar says the business took off in the U.K. “because
What’s the best market to enter first? Experts suggest pick- it doesn’t exist there,” but the British universities still wanted
ing a country with a familiar language where American prod- to deal with a local representative.
ucts and services already have a successful track record. Googling “In our experience, it’s hard to service a business from an
websites in that country, especially sites that sell the same cat- overseas location,” she says. Adds Prince: “We are required to
egory of products, can give a quick, initial idea of how mature a have a presence, even for billing.” The solution? The compa-
market is and whether or not there is demand worth investi- ny asked a contractor in Australia, a company based in the
gating further. U.K., to be its local contact in Britain.
Another way to test the market waters overseas is through
S T E P P I NG A B ROA D advertising. International publications – such as those that
For many companies deemed ready to ven- appear on international airlines or in high-class hotels – often
ture abroad, going global can begin by redis- provide an avenue for finding for-
covering the “world” in “World Wide Web.” eign clients, especially for
Even businesses that aren’t Internet-driven discover they are (continued on page 63)

A LTHOUGH
SELLING SOF T WA RE
IN SOU TH A FRICA,
services in Singapore or technology in Tajikistan may sound
exotic, companies considering a leap abroad should ask tough
questions about the nature of their business.

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“Multi” in “Multinat
g the ion
pin al”
ee
K
In an increasingly global mar-
ketplace, even large corporations with
proven success overseas must search for new ways
of doing business to keep a competitive edge. Constantly
refining its website to be internationally friendly — beginning
with language options for customers in more than 100 countries — is
just one of the things UPS does to keep its global business humming.
UPS and global leaders Avon and Procter & Gamble share these other best
practices:
D O I N G B U S I N E S S I N C O N T E X T. “We don’t want to come in and just stake our American flag down,”
says UPS spokeswoman Karen Cole. Instead, the company works inside a specific market’s business and consumer
culture to make sure it succeeds within the local context, while at the same time adhering to efficiencies and expertise
gained in the U.S. It was a lesson learned the hard way. When the company moved into Europe in the 1970s, for example, it
came in with an attitude that “what works well in the U.S. will work well here,” according to Cole. But that didn’t pan out, and
UPS had to adapt to the different countries’ cultures. Since then, it has used its more flexible philosophy to expand worldwide.
L I S T E N I N G T O C O N S U M E R S . Customizing business for a foreign market begins with knowing the consumer firsthand.
Procter & Gamble learned early on that what’s good for American shoppers isn’t always right for shoppers overseas. Spokesman Scott
Stewart notes, for example, that while Americans like big batches of everything, women in other countries who walk to market can’t
lug home 1.5-gallon jugs of Tide detergent. Instead, P&G packages the product in smaller “sachets” that are easier to transport and
less expensive.
When the P&G board gets together for meetings in various countries, the members often venture out into the consumer’s world to
take a look at what products are being used and how. Some even go into women’s homes and ask what products they use.
For example, interviewing women one-on-one in Venezuela told P&G that its Gain laundry detergent was more appealing to
that market segment because of the product’s “nicer fragrance.”
PA R T N E R I N G W I T H LO C A L S . Jennifer Vargas, a spokeswoman for Avon, says that when the cosmetics company sets up
in a country, it recruits local people on the ground to oversee a particular geographic area. Those local managers then recruit local
sellers. The result? Immediate knowledge of market-specific tastes and preferences, as well as sales methods that work well among
the region’s people.
Vargas recently returned from a trip to Warsaw, Poland, where she observed how the company’s marketing efforts are suc-
ceeding there. What she found was that the direct-sales aspect of Avon’s business is “unique and powerful” in Eastern Europe,
particularly because it encourages women to get training, have an income and help support their families.
When UPS went to China, it bought out a local company and converted it to the “Brown” system instead of building a new
business from the ground up, which is like placing a square peg in a round hole without adequate market knowledge.
As a result, the UPS venture in China successfully blends local customs with American business practices, Cole says.
B E I N G A G O O D C O R P O R AT E C I T I Z E N . Avon’s support of women’s activities worldwide — par-
ticularly breast cancer and domestic violence initiatives — enhances the company’s good reputation with buy-
ers, Vargas says. Similarly, P&G works to improve the lives of children in need through its program
“Live, Learn and Thrive,” which it says has helped 40 million children around the world. And
for the past three years, UPS employees in more than 50 countries have pitched in
with local projects as part of the company’s “Global Volunteer Week.”
By making a difference in the everyday lives of people in all cor-
ners of the world, even giant corporations can achieve a
personal touch — earning consumer loyal-
ty for years to come.

62 | April.May 2007 | Visit pinkmagazine.com to subscribe
high-end products. Robin Stuart, CEO of Voyage Part-
ners, based in California, sells suites on boutique residen-
tial cruise ships. She says there is enormous interest in
her business among overseas clients, particularly in
Europe, due to the favorable exchange rate between
the euro and the dollar at present. And, she says,
the company has had an “enormous number of
Asian buyers.”
How do these far-flung customers know that the
luxury condo-like suites are available on ocean lin-
ers? Advertising. Stuart says her company adver-
tises in publications likeWorld of Cruising and
in coffee-table books present in Asian hotels.
Women business owners don’t have to go it
alone in global markets, either, says IBM’s John-
son, who specializes in showing owners how to
set up a partnership with her global company as
a way to crack international sales. “We want com-
panies owned, led and influenced by women to
know that, in a marketplace with global opportuni-
ties, they [can] partner with a strong IT provider who
can help them grow their business,” Johnson says. She
adds that such a partnership also allows IBM to expand
into small business markets “that may not know we are
talking to them: women-owned, Asian-owned, black-
owned, Hispanic-owned or Native American-owned.”
In some cases, American companies of all sizes can
find a helpful partner in the foreign country’s own gov-
ernment, since many officials are actively recruiting
American business. For example, Mona Diamond,
an honorary consul general for Turkey, is working
to bring American businesswomen to Turkey for
a conference on expanding American commerce
there. “If someone has an idea that they want to
do business in Turkey, we will reach out to an
established company already in Turkey,” she
want
says. “If not, we’ll help them any way we can.”
Contacting an American consulate inside
more?
a country of interest is one way to find local
government officials and businesspeople in- Check out these websites
terested in recruiting American companies. But for more on going global:
sometimes nothing beats the trade shows.
Export.gov. A one-stop shop for export assistance pro-
Sloan, of StartupNation, got his own inter- grams and services in collaboration with agencies across the
national start promoting a product called federal government.
“More Balls than Most,” a juggling kit for
stress relief that eventually became immense- SBA Office of International Trade (sba.gov/oit). Help from
the U.S. Small Business Administration through its 16 export
ly successful. Sloan and his brother, Jeff,
assistance centers.
attended gift and toy shows, particularly one
held at the Javits Center in New York City, to U.S. Chamber of Commerce (uschamber.com/international).
market the product both domestically and in- Source of trade statistics, country and market reports, best
ternationally. market reports, trade contacts and more.
“There were huge contingents from Italy, Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (exim.gov). Assistance for
France, the U.K. and Asia that had their own companies of all sizes in financing the export of goods and
sections at the trade show,” he says. “It was a very services to international markets.
convenient way to do business internationally. State programs. Many states also have their own programs
And all you had to do was go to New York.” designed to help local companies expand overseas. Visit your
So it goes in today’s flat world. state’s home page to see what’s available.

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