Recent research has shown changed attitudes towards this process. Today the focus is on small firms that begin exporting right from start-up. These are called ‘born global entrepreneurs’ and born again social entrepreneurs, who are exporters from the get-go. Without the advent of global communications and transportation, they simply would not exist. Think of the giants Google and Facebook, which generated export revenues at impressive speed. Think also of the small entrepreneurs like Skype, that was acquired by eBay and then by Microsoft. Young entrepreneurs – especially those with a gap year or two under their belts – tend to move quickly towards international and global markets (see Top Ten Countries for Asia-Pacific entrepreneurs) where resources are more easily and widely available
There are two research traditions concerning global entrepreneurs. Research literature has traditionally focused on patterns that companies can go through when they go offshore (by offshore, we also mean neighbouring countries). One is described as an incrementalist approach to export and expansion. This sees firms moving through a specific sequence of events, starting out with no offshore activity, then employing intermediaries and finally setting up subsidiaries or agents. The second approach stands conventional theory on its head. Firm internationalisation has traditionally been conceptualised as a gradual and sequential process that occurs in stages. The firm is assumed to build a stable domestic position before successively increasing commitment to international activities and foreign markets.
Born global entrepreneurs: what are you motivations
When you think about how to spot lucrative global opportunities, the question you should ask is: Why should I go global in the first place? An entrepreneurial business should be able to answer ‘yes’ to many of the following questions.
- Profit maximisation: Is the company driven by a need to maximise profits? Are shareholders or investors expecting quick returns? This might mean adopting an opportunistic strategy in which the company moves from market to market in search of the best possible returns, rather than slowly building a position in any particular market.
- Market share: Does the company want to establish a strong position in an undeveloped market? Is it willing to charge less initially (penetration pricing) in order to get buyers? This may mean spending more on advertising and marketing and having less concern with short- term profitability. This strategy works best in a market where demand is strong (or can be stimulated with appropriate marketing) and where competition, particularly from local suppliers, is weak.
- Maximising cash flow: Another strategy may be simply a way of maximising cash flow. Firms strapped for cash may go abroad to bring in more revenue. This may be the case, for example, for companies that have large stocks of unsold or discontinued inventory or with idle production capacity.
- Repositioning the business: Global market entry may help an entrepreneurial firm reposition a business by developing new product lines and new capabilities. It may make more sense to roll out a different product in a new market, where the company is relatively unknown, than attempt to change the company’s image in its original market, possibly undermining its existing business in the process.
- Domestic impact: Aggressive firms may go overseas in order to acquire new knowledge, skills or technologies for their domestic operations. Such strategies are often pursued by companies in technology-intensive industries or in sectors undergoing rapid change.
Moving on, the global entrepreneur can actively engage in the international market in many ways. These include: importing, exporting, joint ventures, direct foreign investment, royalties and licensing, franchising, mergers and acquisitions, and greenfield investment. These are all becoming part of the extended enterprise, but each of these methods involves increasing levels of risk. The final decision whether or not to go global will depend on the organisation’s needs and the risk it is willing to take. The ‘Market selection matrix’ exercise at the end of the chapter is a useful tool for assessing opportunities in different market contexts.
Born global entrepreneurs secrets of sucess
Importing and global sources
Importing is buying and shipping foreign-produced goods from foreign sources. That’s the traditional definition. Entrepreneurs trade because it enables them to acquire goods they cannot produce themselves. But today, importing is called international or global sourcing, which means sourcing goods and services across geo-political boundaries. This means spotting global efficiencies in the delivery of a product or service. These efficiencies include low-cost skilled labour, low-cost raw materials and other economic factors such as tax breaks and low trade tariffs. Global sourcing makes it possible to meet an increase in product demand.
Moreover, there is also an issue of quality to consider. Some countries have a reputation of producing high quality products with high reliability that are sought by others. Another issue to consider is the penetration of growth markets. An entrepreneur may get a foothold in a new country by sourcing in that country. Last, but not least, is the issue of cost. Buying abroad is sometimes cheaper than domestic buying.
Of course, there are disadvantages as well, particularly relevant to businesses dealing in physical goods. There are extra cost factors and time factors, such as travel and communication. A foreign broker’s and an agent’s fees must be paid. Then there is the cost of distribution, which adds hugely to the unit cost.
With technology de-linking work from place, companies have been nearshoring — shifting jobs from expensive hubs to cheaper cities nearby, or to nearby countries with a lower wage. This is part of the ‘X-shoring’ constellation of terms that include: offshoring (sending work to an overseas location), multi-shoring (sending outsourced work to several overseas locations based on the job to be done and the relevant skills available) and two- shoring (using an offshore location and a domestic one). Near-shoring brings many direct material benefits. It allows a firm to upsize or downsize and to spread risk to other parts of the production chain. Wage and costs differentials in near-shore countries make the company more competitive in the home market. Nearby countries may have higher quality workers and multilingual capabilities. Rather than extend operations to a country around the world, near-shoring can reduce costs and time to market because of the proximity to the home market.
How does an entrepreneur become aware of import opportunities? Knowing where to look is sometimes the hardest part of importing. A starting place is your own knowledge of world trends in your industry or existing market, your intuition about likely new markets – and your facility with using the Internet. Thinking of becoming an import entrepreneur?
On the flip side, we have exporting: shipping and selling locally produced products and services abroad. Free trade agreements open up all sorts of markets to entrepreneurs with the right products. Every globally active entrepreneurial seller is an exporter of some kind. This is particularly important for countries of the Asia–Pacific.
Obviously, every country has its export advantages. New Zealand’s top is concentrated milk; for Australia it is coal and iron. For Thailand, it is hard disks and circuits. Indonesia leads with food oils and mineral fuels.
Exporting is important for entrepreneurs because it often means increased market potential. Instead of being limited to a small market, the exporting company has a broader sales sphere. Take Australia as an example. Australian exports to China have grown at a steady rate. Sectors that are benefiting are agriculture, manufacturing, minerals and energy and services. Australia’s export advantages to Malaysia would be dairy and horticultural products, halal meat, seafood, fruits and wine (yes, even to a country where Islam is the official religion). New Zealand receives computer parts and accessories, motor vehicles and pharmaceuticals. Australia’s top exports to Germany are gold coins and precious metal ores, and oil-seeds and fruits.
Exports has several advantages. Increased export sales volumes will lead to lower unit costs, which will lead to increased margins and profits. As more and more units are exported, the company becomes more efficient at production of the units, thereby lowering the cost per unit. The lower unit cost therefore enables the firm to compete more effectively in the marketplace.
Exporting to foreign markets takes two forms. Direct exporting means setting up expensive subsidiaries or establishing contractual relationships with foreign companies. Direct exporting does give greater control over sales channels and intellectual property protection, but the entry costs, time to market and ongoing costs are higher.
The other form is indirect exporting, which means selling goods to foreign buyers through third parties such as export agents, export merchants or buying houses. This is an especially good mode of entry for the novice exporter or for a manufacturer who lacks country knowledge.
Doing business in China is a good example. Many exporters do not have the expertise to enter the Chinese market successfully. However, when they use indirect exporting, they offer their products through intermediaries who take the product directly to the markets. This way, time to entry in the Chinese market is shorter and more flexible. Exporters can receive payment earlier and risks are minimised, particularly involving volatile foreign exchange markets and credit risks.
One of the greatest benefits of indirect exporting is the ability to obtain export know-how and personal contacts through the export merchant or agent. The exporter can possibly realise greater sales volumes since the foreign export agent often represents several different related products or product lines and can therefore deliver on economies of scale. As well, exporters find it easier to ascertain whether their products will sell well in a foreign market without the effort, financial investment or risk associated with direct exporting. They do not have to worry about all the complexities; they merely give instructions to the agent about packing, labelling, transportation and so forth. 
All of the following methods comprise various forms of the strategic alliance. The term encompasses everything from informal agreements to share information all the way to joint ventures. In short, a strategic alliance is any formal relationship, short of a merger or acquisition, between two companies, formed for the purpose of gaining synergies. In the new economy, strategic alliances enable business to gain competitive advantage through access to a partner’s resources, including markets, technologies, capital and people.
Teaming up with others adds complementary resources and capabilities, enabling participants to grow and expand more quickly and efficiently. Fast growing companies, especially, rely heavily on alliances to extend their technical and operational resources. In the process, they save time and boost productivity by not having to develop from scratch. Thus, they are freed to concentrate on innovation and their core business.
Export management company
Another way the global entrepreneur can get into exporting is through an export management company, also known as a trading house. An export management company is a private firm that serves as an export department for several manufacturers. The company solicits and transacts export business on behalf of its clients in return for a commission, salary or retainer plus commission. In addition, some export management companies will purchase the product and sell it themselves to foreign customers. Export management companies can facilitate the export process by handling all of the details – from making the shipping arrangements to locating the customers. Export management typically does not hold title to exported goods, making money instead from commissions paid on each export.
There are quite a few similarities between foreign distributors and the trading house. It is also quite like indirect exporting (above). The producer also has to take care of all of the barriers to market entry before the products arrive at the distributor. Of course, this can be arranged differently. Apprehensive exporters can offer their products ‘ex works’ – in effect selling them at their factory gate. That means all of the formalities fall to the distributor. On the negative side, the distributor relationship means the producing firm can lose control over marketing, sale and delivery. The goods may even be totally repackaged, relabelled or repositioned to suit the distributor rather than the exporter (unless specific provisions are included in the agreement). This means that a fruitful and productive foreign distributorship can have some characteristics of a strategic alliance or even a partnership.
An ‘agency agreement’ with a foreign agent is a step forward from these previous forms of market entry. Here the producer retains title until the goods are delivered to the buyer or even to the consumer. A new agent starts out on a low salary and commission. As sales increase, so do commissions. It is generally the exporter’s responsibility to pack and ship the goods, clear them through customs and deliver them to the agent. This means that the producer/exporter assumes direct responsibility for most of the steps in the distribution chain. A good agent can also be extremely helpful in dealing with some of the procedures involved and is better placed to understand any duties, taxes or ‘tips’ owing on the shipment. In rare instances the exporter may deal directly with a foreign customs broker – usually if the goods must be stored for future distribution.
Setting up a local ofﬁce
Beyond agents, the next route to global market entry is setting up a small office in the overseas country you are targeting. Usually firms send over one or two people with specialist language or cultural expertise to set up a small office, gather local intelligence, set up a contact network, trial-test new opportunities and carry out marketing and public relations. If things go well, then the staff moves from information gathering to deal making and order processing. This could lead to setting up a full-scale subsidiary in the new market. It is important to work with trade delegations from your home country that have offices in the target country. They have experience, specialist expertise and, most importantly, the contact network to help your venture.
Contract manufacturing, commonly called ‘job shops’, produce components for another firm; many manufacturers use contract manufacturers within their supply chain. A contract manufacturer may offer cost advantages over a company’s internal production facilities. Contract manufacturing also frees up people at the hiring firm to stay focused on their strengths or core competencies of selling and marketing. The manufacturer often charges on a per-piece or per-lot basis for the labour required for their services while using components or materials, moulds or detailed manufacturing instructions supplied by the entrepreneur. Quality is uneven and requires a Supply Quality Agreement (SQA), which outlines quality and compliance responsibilities for both parties. Sales and marketing of the finished product remain the responsibility of the contractor, not the manufacturer. Firms engage in overseas contract manufacture not to replace domestic production, but as a means of achieving strategic advantages in that country.
Under co-production agreements, companies agree to manufacture each other’s products. Co- manufacturing may be combined with co-promotion or co-marketing agreements (see below). Most such agreements do not involve licences or royalties, but some rights to the product may be worked into the agreement.
In a joint production agreement, companies cooperate to produce goods. These agreements enable companies to optimise the use of their own resources, to share complementary resources and to take advantage of economies of scale. Companies may cooperate to make components or even entire products. Many foreign engineering firms have entered joint production agreements with domestic firms that have manufacturing expertise. Joint production agreements benefit the consumers and markets. Producing jointly can also help companies pool their complementary skills and know-how, or jointly invest more than they would be able to individually, thus leading to improved product quality or variety. However, in certain circumstances joint production agreements can also give rise to serious competition law concerns, in particular where the parties have significant market power. In the automobile and telecommunications industries, competing firms often form an alliance to make components that they all need and use.
Beyond this comes the network of retail outlets as volume increases. Some are owned and operated by the parent company or could be dealerships that have an exclusive relationship to the parent. This gives the parent company direct control over the whole distribution chain from initial production to final sale. One of the huge additional benefits is that the parent company can monitor customer behaviour. On the negative side, though, it means hiring, training and firing sales staff, managing inventory, navigating local laws and operating the outlets.
Co-marketing, also known as co-promotion, means two or more companies cooperating to market or promote each other’s products. This type of alliance can involve cross-licensing a shared promotion campaign, or even the formation of a joint venture to market products. For a company wanting to enter a new market, a co-marketing agreement is an effective way to take advantage of existing distribution networks and an ally’s knowledge of local markets. It allows firms whose products complement each other to fill out a product line while avoiding expensive and time- consuming development. 
The most common form of an export consortium might involve a joint bid by several small firms to bid on a foreign project. For a large-scale project, this is the only way that small firms can reach a threshold of size and credibility to complete the assigned task. Much smaller ventures might also require a diversity of skills. Consortia can be informal, but they work better if there is some common agreement that defines the group’s objectives.
A joint venture (JV) is a business collaboration in which two or more parties (with one or more potentially being an international firm) establish a new business enterprise to which each contributes and in which ownership and control are shared. There are good business and accounting reasons such as distribution, technology or finance to create a joint venture. One is that the firm would be able to gain an intimate knowledge of the local conditions and government where the facility is located. It provides the opportunity to obtain new capacity and expertise. Another benefit is that each participant would be able to use the resources of the other firms involved in the venture. This allows participating firms a chance to compensate for weaknesses they may possess.
It is important to consider certain factors before forming a joint venture. These include:
- prospective partners should be screened
- joint development of a detailed business plan and a shortlist of a set of prospective partners based on their contribution to developing a business plan
- due diligence – checking the credentials of the other party (‘trust and verify’ – trust the information you receive from the prospective partner, but it’s good business practice to verify the facts through interviews with third parties)
- development of an exit strategy and terms of dissolution of the joint venture
- most appropriate structure (for example, most joint ventures involving fast-growing companies are structured as strategic corporate partnerships)
- availability of appreciated or depreciated property being contributed to the joint venture (by misunderstanding the significance of appreciated property, companies can fundamentally weaken the economics of the deal for themselves and their partners)
- special allocations of income, gain, loss or deduction to be made among the partners
- compensation to the members that provide services.17
The central characteristic of a joint venture is that it is an equity-based relationship. In a joint venture, two or more ‘parent’ companies agree to share capital, technology, human resources, risks and rewards in the formation of a new entity under shared control. Each parent owns a part of the joint venture and is represented on its board of directors or other governing body.
If the ownership of the joint venture is split 50–50, it is usually because the partners are about the same size and both want a large say in the company. A different split usually reflects a difference in the resources committed by each parent. Here are three possible joint venture governance arrangements:
- full equality – the parents decide policy and operating matters together
- policy equality – the parents must concur on joint venture policy terms, while one takes the lead in operating matters
- lead parent arrangement – one parent has the lead on policy as well as operating questions.
DIRECT FOREIGN INVESTMENT
A foreign direct investment is a domestically controlled foreign production facility. This does not mean the company owns a majority of the operation. In some cases, less than 50 per cent ownership can constitute effective control because the stock ownership is widely dispersed. On the other hand, the entrepreneur may own 100 per cent of the stock and not have ‘real’ control over the company because the government dictates whom to hire, what pricing structure to use and how to distribute the earnings. This causes some concern about exactly who is in control of the organisation. Because of the difficulty of identifying direct investments, governmental agencies have had to establish arbitrary definitions of the term. A direct foreign investment typically involves ownership of 10 to 25 per cent of the voting stock in a foreign enterprise.
A company can make a direct foreign investment by several methods. One is to acquire an interest in an ongoing foreign operation. This initially may be a minority interest in the firm, but enough to exert influence on the management of the operation. A second method is to obtain a majority interest in a foreign company. In this case, the company becomes a subsidiary of the acquiring firm. Third, the acquiring firm may simply purchase part of the assets of a foreign concern in order to establish a direct investment. An additional alternative is to build a facility in a foreign country.
An entrepreneur may want to make a direct foreign investment for several reasons. One is the possibility of trade restrictions. Some countries have prohibitions or restrictive trade barriers on imports of certain products. These barriers can make exporting costly or impossible. In addition, foreign governments may grant tax incentives to a firm seeking direct investment in that country. These incentives can be attractive if the anticipated rate of return is estimated to be higher at the foreign location than domestically.
Direct investment can be an exciting venture for small firms making efforts to increase their sales and their competitive positions in the marketplace. However, it is sometimes not practical for a firm to make a direct investment in a foreign location. If the firm has a unique or proprietary product or manufacturing process, it may want to consider the concept of licensing.
ROYALTIES AND LICENSING
A royalty is a payment made in return for being permitted to exercise a right owned by another person. Most commonly, it is allied to the payment made by a publisher or record producer to the author of a book or performer of a piece of music, but it can apply equally to a payment made for producing something by a patented process. This method of distribution is usually entered into when the developer of a product or component does not have the capital, time or commitment to manufacture and market the product/component themselves, or there are substantial tariff barriers to imports in the market of interest. You effectively sell your intellectual property to someone else to manufacture on your behalf, or to incorporate into a product they are already manufacturing. You then receive an agreed amount – a royalty – every time they make a sale. This method is often entered into when a small component has been developed that can be used in other processes – for example, a microchip that can be used in computers.
Licensing is a global market-entry tool in which the company enters into an agreement with a licensee in the foreign market, offering the right to use a manufacturing process, trademark, patent, trade secret or other item of value for a fee or royalty. Licensing can cover inventions, technologies, software, manufacturing systems and processes, products and artistic and literary material. The entrepreneur need not make an extensive capital outlay to participate in the international market. Nor does the licensor have to be concerned with the daily production, marketing, technical or management requirements; the licensee will handle all of this. Due to the high cost of manufacture and the comparatively small investment of a licensing program, many of the risks that a company would otherwise face in exploiting its intellectual property are transferred to the licensee. Depending on the exclusivity of the licence, there are varying degrees of risk involved for the licensee and licensor; however, an effective licence strategy will minimise risk for both parties.
- Advantages of licensing:
– It can be an extremely attractive way to enter the international arena. It requires a minimal capital outlay and can generate savings in tariffs and transportation costs.
– It is a more realistic means of expansion than exporting, particularly for the high-tech firm.
– Access to the market is easier in comparison with equity investments and foreign governments are more likely to give their approval because technology is being brought into the country.
– A potential exists for the licensees to become partners and contributors in improving the ‘learning curve’ of technology.
- Disadvantages of licensing:
– It is possible that the licensee will become a competitor after the contract expires.
– The licensor must get the licensee to meet contractual obligations and to adjust products or services to fit the licensee’s market.
– The licensing entrepreneur must manage the relationship’s conditions and circumstances, as well as resolve conflicts or misunderstandings as they occur.
– The integrity and independence of both the licensor and licensee must be maintained.
To be competitive with larger firms, small businesses have to be on the cutting edge of bringing in new and innovative technology. Moreover, some small firms may not have the financial resources available to participate in the international marketplace by exporting, joint venture or direct investment. For many of these firms, international licensing is a viable and exciting method of expanding operations.20
Before a company considers licensing out its technology, however, it should consider whether other ways of taking advantage of its property, such as joint ventures and strategic alliances with other companies, would better complement its economic position. Once licensing is the chosen direction, the nature of the company, as well as the particular property it wishes to utilise, should be carefully considered before deciding the architecture of the licence.21
Franchising is a specific form of licensing that involves selling the rights to a complete package of trademarks, processes, technologies, designs and copyrights, as they are all involved in the operation of a specific business. (See the section on ‘Franchises’ in Chapter 5.) Perhaps the best-known franchises are in the fast-food business, with the world leader probably being McDonald’s. Whether it is in North America or Russia, a McDonald’s restaurant promises the same food, the same quality and the same level of service to customers. Moreover, its business formula involves service standards (quick service, a standard menu), an approach to employment (hiring younger people), technology (high-tech ovens, foolproof cash registers), marketing (Ronald McDonald, frequent promotions) and a common look that is reinforced by logos and other symbols. In selling its franchise, McDonald’s provides an entire process, employee training, monitoring of performance, quality control and marketing support as part of the package.
Generally, with franchising though, terms of the arrangement vary; the purchaser usually pays a lump sum for the franchise and then remits a percentage of all subsequent profits. The sale of a franchise marks the beginning of an ongoing partnership between the franchise owner and the purchaser that apportions responsibilities in both directions. That partnership may include an agreement that the purchaser buy specific products or supplies from the franchise owner on an exclusive basis. The franchise owner will certainly provide ongoing training and marketing support to the purchaser.
Another very powerful mode to take advantage of being a global entrepreneur is maximising your own ethnic networks. Ethnic entrepreneurs start their own business in their new country of residence often through an individual connection with former immigrants. On the reverse side are immigrant groups who launch start-ups back in their home country. We call them diaspora entrepreneurs. Diaspora comes from the Greek word for ‘dispersed’ and means any group dispersed outside its traditional homeland, especially involuntarily, but who maintain a relationship to their country of origin. In both directions, immigrant entrepreneurs are the new Argonauts, using family and ethnic networks and their bounded solidarity to build close ties between their two homelands. From this perspective, the often-lamented ‘brain drain’ is actually a kind of brain circulation, pushing not only the home economy but benefiting the countries of origin as well.
Both ethnics and diasporans confront institutional environments that often are quite different from those that existed in their countries of origin. Both must acculturate. But both have tremendous social capital. Immigrant family and friends blend together the performance-based world of business and the emotion-based domain of family. Economic benefits abound in working with your ethnic community. These range from coping with social exclusion, rapid mainstreaming, and providing access to transnational opportunities. Well-known are hyphenate American entrepreneurs such as African-Americans, Korean-Americans and Mexican-Americans, and especially Indian and Chinese engineers who immigrated to California’s Silicon Valley. Participating in ethnic networks of family and friends helps with raising capital at the initial stages of a start-up and reliance on business colleagues and professional associations for finding larger amounts of capital and finding capital at later stages of the firm.
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