All businesses are increasingly going global and Middle Market companies can’t ignore opportunities outside the USA. North Americans currently account for about 18% of the global consumer market, but that is expected to drop to just 6% by 2050 as the world economy grows. By going global, Middle Market firms can reap huge benefits:

  • Strengthen Core Competencies: Middle Market companies with a global footprint expose their employees to a broader array of experience and best practices, which can be applied at home, increasing domestic competitiveness.
  • Improve Competitiveness: The USA is still the most attractive market in the world. Global competitors want a presence here, and if they’re going after your business, the best strategic response is to go after theirs. Thomas A. Stewart, Executive Director for the National Center for the Middle Market, says: “You have to play good offense. If you only play defense, you lose.”
  • Increase Customer Service: Taking care of your customers means getting your products and services where they need them; customers don’t see oceans and national boundaries as an impediment. Improving “customer reach” was one of the driving factors for Daryl Peterman, CEO of Abrasive Technology. “We wanted to provide our products to customers around the world. To do that, we needed a global footprint,” he said.
  • More Strategic Opportunities: When you have contacts in other countries, you’re more likely to hear about potential joint ventures, partnerships, overseas sourcing or acquisitions, to name a few.
  • Diversification: Economic fluctuations don’t usually hit everywhere at once; exporting gives Middle Market firms a buffer against tough economies.
  • Contingency Planning: Having mirrored facilities spread around the globe ensures that you can stay operational during natural disasters, political unrest, etc. If one facility is non-operational, another can pick up the slack.

As Middle Market CEOs consider going global, Peterman offers some helpful advice:

  • Be Real: “Before you decide to enter a market, you have to be certain that you can stay true to who you are while still adapting to cultural differences.”
  • Be Intentional: Communication and collaboration become more challenging when you have oceans and time zones between you. Peterman says, “The further away you are from headquarters, the more intentional you have to be.”
  • Be Committed: You can’t just open a facility abroad, set it on autopilot, and expect it to automatically operate like the one at home.

It takes consistent, deliberate focus to make sure that all of the people, processes, and systems work well together. Entering new global markets can be thrilling and intimidating — but no more threatening than standing still while your competitors take market share. What are you doing to take your company global? We’d like to know: