In our quest to build a home for the global expansion industry, we’ve interviewed dozens of experts and key players. Our objective is to have a deep understanding of how this industry really works “under the hood”.
It is fairly straightforward to identify the sellers. They are split into two groups: the first one includes what the industry calls “intermediaries”. It is a long list of consultancies, accounting firms, law firms, investment banks, specialists in market intelligence, research, market entry, as well as translation, localisation, recruiting, payroll and office space providers. Some are tier-1 blue chips, some are very specialised and focus on a particular niche.
The second one is comprised of the hundreds of agencies promoting locations all around the world as attractive investment destinations. They are usually known as Investment Promotion Agencies, Economic Development Agencies, Trade & Investment Authority or Board of Investments. Often part of the Ministry of Trade & Industry, these organisations operate on national, state, province, regional or even city level to provide access and information to companies considering setting up show in their jurisdictions.
However, it is on the buyer side that the challenge and the beauty of this industry lie. Understanding which companies are about to embark on a “global spree”, why, how and when are the billion-dollar question; both difficult and fascinating.
Challenge #1: There is no particular vertical industry.
Companies from any industry can go abroad. It doesn’t matter what they do, but their particular set of circumstances regarding business model, home-market saturation, shareholders pressure and especially the company’s ambition to grow.
Challenge #2: Different reasons, different decision makers.
Although the CEO should have the final say in expansion plans, if a company is expanding in order to reach new markets, sales/marketing are key influencers. On the other hand, if the company is seeking to offshore non-core functions to save on costs, it will be the finance or facilities team. Having different job titles as “buyers” poses a challenge when trying to communicate with this audience.
Challenge #3: Once it’s established, it has already changed.
Perhaps the biggest challenge in figuring out this industry is the fact it’s constantly changing. A company may decide 2017 is a good year to expand and open 3 new markets. Then it may hold off further expansion until these new markets mature. In the meantime, this company will still make adjustments in resourcing and infrastructure, but these wouldn’t include new countries.
What is really fascinating and exciting to us in this exercise is unlocking the immense potential when deals are closed thanks to our contribution of bringing the right decision makers together at the right time.
There are dozens of criteria taken into consideration before a decision of such magnitude is made. Some are quite objective and easy to understand. Some are more subjective and down to what one person values and likes. That’s when human interaction in events like Global Expansion Summit plays a key role.
In the end, this is literally an ever-changing industry unlike any other. What excites us is the challenge of constantly mapping out the key players, their reasons and what is important to them. Easy is boring, difficult is both exciting and highly rewarding just because not everyone can do it.