Globalization is no longer a choice; it is a fact of life. It is no longer reserved for giant multinationals. High-speed connectivity and free trade have brought the whole world closer together for businesses large and small. Raw materials can be sourced from the Far East or from Kansas, and a customer support call can be routed to Manila or to Oregon. Startups can now globalize at the speed of the Internet. Businesses need certain strategies to succeed in this new global marketplace.
Embrace differences in global operating environments. Tax systems, raw material input costs, labor costs and regulations and political stability are some of the areas of differences encountered in global markets. Treat these differences not as constraints but as opportunities. For example, if there is a skilled engineering workforce in one country and a strong manufacturing infrastructure in another, do your research and development in one and assemble your products in the other.
Study foreign markets and understand their customers' preferences. Identify and partner with local businesses with successful operating histories as a cost-effective way of establishing a presence. Scan the regulatory environment for changes that might help or harm your company.
Develop a separate strategy for each market. Do not assume that the only difference between U.S. and overseas markets is your market share percentage.
Focus on the BRIC -- Brazil, Russia, China and India -- countries, especially China and India. Together, these two nations represent about a third of the world's population with an educated and increasingly affluent middle class. They also offer low-cost alternatives for manufacturing and research and development.
Invest globally during downturns because not all parts of the world go through recessions at the same time. For example, the 2008 financial crisis did not have a discernible impact on the growth rates in India and China. Their exports suffered, but internal demand held up.
Align your global strategy with local operations. There should not be any gaps between the two because significant failures can occur where the local operating policies are the weakest. The 2010 British Petroleum rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico has been cited as evidence of what happens when a company commits to a global strategy -- deepwater drilling in the case of BP -- but fails to implement coherent operating policies to support it.