International Trade: The Way Forward
Today we live in a fast paced and ever evolving world. Recent history only goes to highlight that the future remains uncertain. At the end of this year we will leave the European Union and, of course, we hope and believe that our politicians will secure a good and comprehensive deal with the European Union prior to the end of the transition period.
Although even if you believe that our politicians are going to come back from Europe with an optimal deal, forward looking companies and leaders are looking beyond Europe for new markets.
For small medium enterprises that are growing and looking to expand the question arises of where to start. Building these capabilities remains a challenge for any board and the stresses and strains of running a successful business are often all consuming. In most cases international expansion is put off until tomorrow, and an opportunistic attitude which addresses short-term tactical business opportunities is adopted as opposed to a long-term strategic development.
This has been made harder by the pandemic. It will be a brave visionary who stands in front of his board today and says that he wants to augment or further develop an international overseas strategy. Although, in our opinion, fortune will favour the brave and those that do not move will stagnate into obsolescence.
These dynamic executives who are looking for long term benefit to their companies, however, are putting this vision front and centre. Strong executives that have the mandate from their shareholders are looking at ways to continue moving their businesses into the global arena and beyond Europe. They of course appreciate that the support of shareholders is essential as any strategic development evolves over a number of years; it is not a process from which you can expect to see results on a quarter by quarter basis.
The benefits of the European Union have been enormous and continue to be so and may well continue well into the future; the downside has been that the ability to trade internationally, identify market opportunities and dynamically adapt is not always as well developed within the SME sector as it could be. Today everyone is obsessed with developing a cookie cutter approach to business that is scalable. Unfortunately, International business is rarely homogenous, and it is continually evolving and morphing in unpredicted ways. To thrive in this environment companies have to have a flexible and evolved culture with business managers who are empowered and trusted to make bid decisions. Not all companies or managers are built to thrive in this environment.
Of course, it is not always that hard to adapt and evolve, and there are a plethora of talented smart people in the market place. The difficulty is in developing a strategy that belongs to the board and is in the interest of the global strategy of company.
Success is dependent on senior management having a clear vision for the future. It is not rocket science and everything is achievable; however the mistakes are expensive and the easily daunted will fall along the way.
We continue to work with our clients to overcome these difficulties by helping them identify the markets that are most appropriate and how to develop a strategy to enter those markets with a specific focus on the Far East and ASEAN. It is an exciting time to be involved in International trade and the future is bright despite all the current headwinds.