Finding a Niche in the Global Marketplace

International business consultant Bill Cairns, President of BCM Group, shares expert advice on finding your niche in the global marketplace.

 

Q: We hear so much about the global nature of today's economy. Do small businesses have a place in it?

Absolutely. They are more flexible to adapt to market demands, and to different regional and cultural needs. Also, close relationships are as important—and sometimes more so—in certain countries as in the U.S. A small business is better able to cultivate that kind of relationship than a large company.
 

Q: What are three common misperceptions about doing business overseas?
  • Myth: The decision-making process is the same as in the U.S.
    Fact: A lot of Americans assume everyone else in the world looks at things the same way. Not true.
  • Myth: Technology will win the day over everything else.
    Fact: Again, it's about relationships. People want to do business with companies they can trust and are familiar with.
  • Myth: You can do business with international partners without personal contact.
    Fact: You can't do everything by email or telephone. Some kind of regular face-to-face contact is a must.
Q:

Many small businesses benefit from having a local partner in the countries or regions where they want to do business. What are some reliable resources for finding such expertise?

Having a local partner is often very important when doing business overseas. One way to find potential partners is to get references from customers (or potential customers) you may have in that area. Referrals can also be obtained from suppliers of a related product or service in the region.

You may also be able to get good recommendations from US industrial and trade associations that do international market research, the US Small Business Administration, US Consulates in the region, and local trade organizations and exhibitions in-country.
 

Q: Intellectual property (IP) protection is a major concern for businesses of all sizes. What can be done to safeguard products and ideas?

You should have a thorough understanding of local IP protection laws. This information is available from local legal resources. Also, make sure you license only to certified local partners.
 

Q:

Why is it important to consult with a SCORE small business mentor when considering a step into the international market?

Being successful internationally is directly tied to working closely with the most experienced resources you can find.

Because SCORE counselors have access to a broad base of contacts and expertise, you get the resources of the entire organization. A relationship with SCORE is critical.
 

 


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About the Author

BCM Group Founder and President William C. Cairns, has more than thirty five years of experience as a consultant and supplier to the pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing industries. Prior to forming BCM Group, he served as President of Romaco USA, Inc. He was responsible for the strategic direction of the US Operations including sales and marketing, manufacturing and service activities serving North American pharmaceutical, medical device, cosmetic and food manufacturers.