Archive for January, 2009

Global Businesswomen and Leaders Summit

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The 11th Global Businesswomen & Leaders Summit will be held March 8-9, 2009 in Dubai, UAE. This premier gathering, organized by Datamatix on the occasion of International Women’s Day, will witness the coming together of global businesswomen, leaders, professionals and women entrepreneurs to set trends, exercise influence, create changes and devise innovative strategies that will make a difference to women’s involvement in today’s competitive global markets.

Find out more here.

Posted by:  Laurel Delaney

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How Can You Get Customers Overseas?

wegg1Global business is now a part of our daily conversations. Yet when I think about the entrepreneurs I know (in the U.S.), I’m astonished at how few of them actually do any business across borders. And the few I do know tend to focus on outsourcing or overseas production – the expense side, if you will.

I can probably count on one hand the number that go global in search of revenues.

While I have a couple theories on why that may be (I’ll save that for another day), it got me thinking…how can an entrepreneur or business owner prospect for global customers? What are some low-budget methods to source new business? How can one lower the barriers of language and cultural differences to reach people in foreign countries? How can technology be used to save on hard costs like travel, and soft costs like learning curve, in order to get to know the marketplace?

In thinking about those questions, I came up with some ideas. I’d love to hear your feedback on these, and other ideas that you have, either through experience or through simple brainstorming.

  1. Use existing customers as “listening posts” and advocates. If you already have any customers abroad, contact them and try holding personal conversations via Skype or email. Ask them how to get more customers in their region/country, and if they will help you with the process (perhaps even give them an incentive). Find out what distribution channels are used in their region
  2. Find your competitors’ customers. Google your product/service in specific countries to see who the main competitors are. On their web sites, look for customer testimonials, case studies, etc. to identify prospective buyers of your product/service.
  3. Search for a local trade association. These organizations are in existence to promote and serve their particular industries, and will often go out of their way to help companies grow. They may have marketing opportunities, access to buyer lists/groups, and networking contacts.
  4. Use eBay, Facebook, and other social networking sites used in that region. The former is better to sell product, and the others are better for services. Not only can you use conventional listings or ads, but on Facebook you can also set up your own group/company account.
  5. Post videos on YouTube to explain your company’s products/services or for “how-to” processes. Videos can help build trust among people who don’t know you, demonstrate your expertise, and put a friendly face on your company.
  6. If you’re a B2B firm, ask current customers for referrals to overseas business units. Explain to your domestic customers that you are interested in pursuing global customers and if they have contacts in the company’s offices around the globe.
  7. If your product is purchased as a gift, offer overseas shipping. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I’m still surprised at how many e-commerce sites will state that they only deliver to nearby countries. Yes, there are customs issues and higher shipping costs to deal with, but when it comes to gifts (when people often buy on emotion, not to fill a need), customers may not mind paying extra.

I would love to hear about other sales and marketing tactics to cultivate business overseas. What experiences have you had that either worked or didn’t? What ideas do you have that other entrepreneurs might want to consider?

Either comment here or email me at rchadha [at] depaul [dot] edu.

Posted by Raman Chadha – Coleman Entrepreneurship Center, DePaul University

Launching a Business in a Tailspin Economy

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With the economy in a slump, new business can be risky business.  Yet in spite of the uncertainty, many women feel cautiously optimistic about their business opportunities.  About 58 percent of women business owners polled in the  October 2008 Business Risk Survey expect revenues to grow in 2009.

What can be done to minimize risk in a down economy?

Karin Abarbanel, co-author of Birthing the Elephant, a new guide for women launching a business, stated in a recent interview:

“Businesses fail in a thriving economy, and businesses succeed in a down economy…The real key to beating the odds, which are daunting whether the economy is up or down, is a lean launch strategy that allows you to proceed economically and substitute brains for bucks.” 

If you want to launch a business in a tailspin economy, make sure you define your niche clearly and keep these things in mind:

1. In a down economy, customers become more discriminating and only buy products which meet their needs spot-on.  Businesses that provide exactly what customers want when they want it will hold market share throughout a downturn.

2. A lean launch is key.   To meet customer needs with minimal capital investment, small businesses are increasingly moving to a variable cost business model which means less up-front capital to get started.  Outsourcing, cooperative worksites, contract manufacturers, cloud computing, and infrastructure servicing companies like FEDEX allow small businesses to design, produce and deliver products on a variable cost basis, with little or no fixed cost investment. This lowers the bar for market entry and reduces the financial risk of starting a new business.

3. The Internet enables customers and niche providers of goods and services to find each other.  Use the web and think findability:  how can your customers find you and your niche products?  Expand your online presence beyond your company website and make it easy for customers to buy what you sell.

Posted by:  Carolyn Ockels

Opportunity Abounds for Women Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets

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Businessses see opportunity in emerging markets for women, especially women entrepreneurs. Read more here.

World Bank is involved too.

Posted by :  Laurel Delaney

Globalization Trend

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One of our very own WEGG contributors, Steve King, is quoted in this U.S. News and World Report article, “Best Small Businesses To Start,” The article is authored by one of our favorite entrepreneurial reporters:  Matthew Bandyk.  Here’s the part on globalization:

Another trend is globalization. More U.S. businesses than ever are connected with the world. There’s a huge market out there for American entrepreneurs to sell to, and it’s growing. “There’s going to be an equivalent to the U.S. middle class created each year over the next decade” in the developing world, says Steve King of the Institute for the Future.

Some entrepreneurs—be they companies going global or outsourcing firms educate and train businesses in the new game of globalization. Export managers link domestic buyers with foreign sellers.

So if you are reading this blog, you are on the right track for 2009!  Start growing global and get connected to everyone, everywhere.

Posted by:  Laurel Delaney

Women Represent More Than Half of the World’s Human Potential

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Here’s an open letter to President-elect Obama (and a few of the authors’ companies are featured in the right sidebar of WEGG):

We are calling on you to be the President who ushers in the time of women. Our vision of the future is one in which women and men are equal partners, standing shoulder to shoulder in confronting the world’s challenges. We welcome, with hope and anticipation, your shared commitment to this vision.

We represent more than half of the world’s human potential. And our time has come.

Read more here. The comments are endless.

And per The Commonwealth:

While women make up half the world’s population, they work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, produce half of the world’s food, and yet earn only 10 per cent of the world’s income and own less than one per cent of the world’s property.

Posted by: Laurel Delaney

Think Mobile for Global Markets

Want to do business globally? Think mobile.

Around the world, mobile phones are becoming the primary tool for communication, and that includes wireless messaging, commerce, banking and advertising.

By the end of October 2008, India alone had 326 million users of mobile phones, almost 10 times the installation base of its landlines. Even more importantly, mobile phone penetration continues to grow by over 10 million units per month, while landlines are on the decline.

In South Africa, the Financial Times reports that nine out of 10 South Africans own a mobile phone, even though only half the country has bank accounts. Companies like Wizzit see the opportunity to grow banking and commerce through the mobile and are actively building the mobile banking sector. Key quote:

The power that is embedded in a cell phone makes it an obvious choice as a channel to get to the market.

Increasingly, customer contacts, financial transactions, and operations monitoring tools depend on mobile links spanning the globe. Anticipate customer access via the mobile, and design your business accordingly. You will reach a broader market more effectively.

Posted by:  Carolyn Ockels

Her Wines Are Exported Around The World

Jane Hunter of Hunter Wines

Jane Hunter, Managing Director for New Zealand-based Hunter Wines, exports wine around the world including to Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, Denmark, Australia and the United States.

Ms. Hunter is breaking new ground with exports reaching Spain, Slovakia and the Ukraine, and she has her eye on new territory such as Norway despite the global economic slowdown.

Read more here.


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