There’s a lot changing in global business lately. Executive orders concerning immigration, changing international trade agreements, and changing priorities from the U.S. government make deciding how to approach doing business abroad a challenge for many U.S. businesses. That said, some things never change, so this week we are taking a look at some of the unchanging factors in moving your business abroad.
This week I am joined by Brent Bassett and Lisa Sharpenberg from ArrowCore Group. ArrowCore does staffing and consulting, much of which is in the IT industry. With much of the talent in IT coming from overseas these days, Basset, Sharpenberg, and their team decided, after years of working with another agency to access international talent, that it was time to open their own office overseas. They offer great insight on how to make this kind of expansion go smoothly.
Know Your Strategy
As a strategist, I always believe that strategy is a great place to start a conversation concerning just about any change, but when moving into a global market it becomes even more crucial. An article on Forbes.com says, “Taking a small business global is a complex and dynamic process. Gaining a deep understanding of the targeted markets, the competition, current local market trends, and the requirements to successfully launch and drive growth lays an important foundation.”
They suggest taking a “Deep Dive” into your due diligence. I second that motion. Market segmentation analysis, gap analysis, SWOT analysis…go forth and analyze. If that’s not your specialty, this is the time to bring in an expert. Moving into a global market can offer a lot of unknowns. Make sure you don’t go in blind. It’s also imperative that the strategy you create for the overseas arm of your business fits with the overall strategy of your business.
For ArrowCore, the choice to expand overseas grew from a desire to expand their ability to compete. Bassett explains, “We had (overseas) partnerships before where we had somebody in the background that could help us ramp stuff up, and we could offload work to that organization. But there’s nothing like owning it yourself.” After researching different areas, they set up a business in Delhi offering development, recruiting, and sourcing.
Find an Anchor Person
Bassett and Sharpenberg attribute much of their success in India to having a strong anchor person. The article in Forbes (as above) suggests establishing a beachhead team, with experience in the area (both geographic and business) that you are expanding into. This team can “hit the ground running, quickly validate assumptions, and drive key readiness initiatives while the company hires the right senior management team.” This strategy leaves the parent company executives free to stay focused on overall company strategies, and on incorporating the new arm from the home base.
For ArrowCore, they were able to find an anchor person early on in the process, and he has been central to the success of the India branch. Bassett says, “We developed trust with him, and he was able to start up the business there and help us get through all the red tape, get the building, and get operations up and running, find and hire the right people around us. Having an anchor person at any location is the key to navigate overseas.”
Just like in local operations, making sure you have the right team in place can make or break you. Basset says, “It’s about the people, people that are ambitious, and have good attitudes, and are just very engaging.”
Sharpenberg agrees. “I think it does come down to the talent. If the people are there, and the need is there, there are clients who say, ‘Hey, this is what we need. This is that technology that we’re after, and the skills that we need.’” Being in India gives the ArrowCore team access to cutting edge technologies that haven’t been as widely learned in the United States.
Be Ready for Opportunity
When I asked Bassett about their success, he modestly referred to the many opportunities that have come to the company. While opportunities do arise, if you aren’t ready for them, they don’t mean much. The ArrowCore team has set themselves up for success by intelligently building a structure that allows them to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. Their business staffing, depends on effectively competing for the best talent. Being in India allows them a competitive advantage in reaching the best talent, quickly. Explains Sharpenberg, “If I get a position from a client at 8 o’clock at night, I know I can call Rahat and the India team to get on and work on it, and be very aggressive with trying to find the right team.”
As with any potential business opportunity, the decision to move overseas needs to be done for good reasons, and with a lot of planning and thought – but it can provide a whole new world of opportunities for your mid-sized business.