What it takes to build a small business globally
Baring this in mind, we expanded to the US, and have done so in a way that we can trial operating remotely and within a management style that is conducive to me getting enough sleep and being present to whatever team I am working with at the time.
I work "on" the business, not "in" the business and have settled into a routine that works for everyone.
The business as a whole is more innovative and forward thinking than even I imagined. Somehow those long haul flights have given me precious time to think and be more innovative than if I sat in an office all day long and never moved from my desk.
I also have the ability to meet people from all over the world doing innovative stuff, that sometimes makes sense in my business, or inspires me to think about something new particularly in terms of technology, robotics and virtual reality.
Funnily enough, the ladder came from our own backyard in Australia.
We are on a tipping point of what is possible and by luck or fate as we would have it, I have been pressed to aggressively expand Europe, and while it is terribly exciting, it also holds our biggest risk components.
What has allowed us to grow globally is:
- Tried and tested formula for doing business
- Having the managing director work "on" the business, not "in" the business
- The use of technology across the entire company
- Skype - thank you for the free conference calls - I don't know how they did it in a cost effective way before you came along
- Constant need for improvement of our own systems, processes and ways of doing business
- A magazine that shares our story, and that of our clients with the world
- Licensing that gives other marketing people the opportunity to own their own business using a brand that is well-known
- A career path for marketers that is second to none giving early access to face to face communications with clients
- A globally collaborative and inclusive environment, with sharing of ideas, knowledge, clients and capabilities
To expand internationally you need money. I haven't looked to seek money outside of my own pocket in the past few years, because I have found a formula that works. Yes, we could grow faster if I did do this, but the reality is that control would be lost, and right now, this vision needs to be realised.
We have an open-book policy and share our own experiences through this blog and in person with clients. We never, ever do anything that isn't authentic and on top of everything, we are charitable. Sometimes the latter makes our internal accountant shake her head. I really would give the shirt off my back to someone else who needed it - and that is what I like about myself, but the accounts department doesn't like it so much.
There are certain traits that I have found to be important in expanding internationally:
- Give up your shyness or the fact that you are an introvert. If you cannot do this, pass this task onto someone else, but no-one will have your passion
- You have to be super organised always - and sometimes it's paperwork that you put to the wayside
- Have goals and work hard to achieve them
- Do your market research and test the market first before investing too heavily
- Have a thick skin
- Learn to do business the same way as locals
- Be kind, generous and always polite
- Never give up
- If you fail, pick yourself up and learn the lesson
- Always have a written business plan and execute it
Growing Marketing Eye has been rewarding in so many ways. I feel lucky that I have been able to achieve this and that the world really is my oyster.