Go international or die!
It’s no need to be in denial of the economic situation in Europe. On the contrary, it’s time to overcome procrastination. EU small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are suffering! They need to enter new foreign markets in order to overcome the weak domestic demand. As their need for internationalization increases, the difficulties related to the achievement of this task persist. Barriers to trade remain numerous and include many and varied informational, relational, cultural or marketing-related obstacles. While the information and communications technology (ICT) advancements make our planet smaller and facilitate interactions among individuals and organizations, TRSM reckons that there is a need for developing a supportive Internet social-technology to facilitate SMEs’ business expansion. It’s time to innovate! “Yesterday, you said tomorrow”, said once a famous ad campaign of Nike.
EU SMEs need to take advantage of globalization as soon as possible!
23 millions of EU small and medium-sized enterprises are suffering from the economic downturn. Actually, they could die from it if they do not implement new strategies in order to expand and protect their economic turf. As Reuters showed recently, the weak domestic demand leads these companies to expand their activities abroad, with a differentiated degree of internationalization (most are exporting, some are opening subsidiaries, others are producing abroad). This situation forces companies to look beyond borders before they would have guessed. Whether they like it or not, SMEs need to take quickly advantage of the so-called phenomenon of “globalization”. After all, the last decade’s ICT revolution opens so many doors facilitating the international business development of companies…
Going international is a tough task!
Yet, if there are more opportunities, going international remains a tough task requiring investment in time and money as well as a situation of high risk. However, when executed properly, the market diversification may secure revenues and a successful company abroad contributes to the national competitiveness. For this reason, and as we explained in a previous article (4 reasons why export promotion agencies are useful to your business), governments are supporting SMEs in their international activities with trade promotion agencies and chambers of commerce providing them with information, technical and marketing assistance, as well as contacts.
Information contacts are probably one of the most important and key element of a successful internationalization. I remember travelling in Russia for a building materials company willing to enter this market. In this tough market, without any anchor point or any single contact you are completely lost, lacking of information and knowledge on “how the business goes” in the country. It’s only once we met this entrepreneur in a restaurant that we started accessing relevant information to guide us at the right place. Through this single guy, we’ve been able to access the renovation sites of a famous Russian museum, which shows that increasing the value of your social capital, provides your company with access to information and resources that will reduce risk and help you overcome barriers to trade.
So networking would be the magic wand of international expansion… Really? Well, it contributes to the understanding of the environment and may result in the discovering of the ideal commercial partner (which is an important success factor). The only problem is that networking is a time consuming and costly activity. So here comes the question: How can social technology help SMEs boost their exports and internationalization, while it is a powerful networking tool?
Social-technology to support international expansion!
Every week, business press and marketing gurus are giving advices on how small and medium businesses should use social technology in order to improve their relationship with customers, develop their networks, enhance their processes and, in the end, achieve a better performance. Every week, we beg entrepreneurs and SMEs managers to learn and improve their skills in social media marketing and Internet networking, because it engages the firm with its stakeholders, impact the size of their social capital and may drive their growth. We believe that this is true. Numerous data and reports are confirming this thought (again, give a look at Taking Advantage of Social Technologies). But we also believe that achieving so is difficult, time consuming and costly for companies that do not have sufficient skills and resources. Moreover, we believe that if it requires efforts, it is mainly because firms are trying to benefit from tools that weren’t conceptualize to help them, but to serve other private individual interests (whether professionally, e.g. LinkedIn, or in terms of entertainment, e.g. Facebook).
As a consequence, this blog would like to raise debate around the case for a supportive social technology, or a social technology that has for purpose to drive firms’ performance and economic growth. In the context described above, it appears that such innovation should particularly regard the international business development of SMEs and their ability to develop powerful networks abroad that will help them in the conquest of new markets for survival and growth.
Time to innovate! Go international of die!
So let me address this message to you, readers of TRSM: What are your ideas? How far is this relevant? Where would you bring social technology in order to help these firms, help your country and secure future employments? The debate is open…
“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Follow our discussion and participate in our debate on LinkedIn: “Go international or die! How can Internet entrepreneurs help SMEs develop their business internationally?”