The Fortune Global 500 generated $1.7 Trillion profit in 2014 and employed 65 Million people. These are impressive numbers, but your business doesn’t have to have hundreds of millions of Dollars’ worth of revenue or assets in order to benefit from a global strategy.
Being a global company gives you access to the best talent, new opportunities and greater growth potential. Here are five key factors every company needs to have in place in order to succeed as a global business.
A company has to do more than simply trade in other countries in order to be considered global. Everything from its infrastructure to its attitude must be geared towards a cross-border way of working. A truly global company needs to coordinate its efforts in all countries, rather than from a centralized headquarters.
According to Tomas Hult, director of the International Business Center at Michigan State University: ‘It would be highly inefficient if a business is in 100 countries and everything has to go through one place. You have much more leverage and synergy if you have a coordinated effort among countries you’re in, so there’s learning and give-and-take.’
Agile Management Structure
The challenge of maintaining a global strategy while adapting to local cultures, competitors, and markets weighs heavily on the traditional management structure. You need to be flexible and able to quickly adapt. Agile management involves a greatly simplified hierarchy and redistribution of decision-making power to enable faster decisions and a more effective way of working.
Put simply, your teams need to be empowered to act, regardless of where they are in the globe. Waiting for board-level approval on decisions could significantly delay a project, especially if the board meets in a different time zone.
Cloud computing allows a business to operate without restraints. From small, sometimes free, services such as Trello (for project management) and Google Drive (file sharing) to large, custom built platforms from providers such as IBM, the cloud allows teams to work together from anywhere in the world, with the same speed and efficiency as if they were located in the same room.
Cloud computing is available to all levels of business. SMEs can use free or pay-as-you-go services to handle email, accounting, data management, and collaborative working, while larger companies can invest in bespoke systems perfectly matched to their more intensive requirements.
Strong Communication Strategy
Effective communication is key to success on the global stage. Two main factors to consider when creating your communication strategy are methodology and local culture.
Internet-based technology allows you to email, call, and videoconference people anywhere in the world. Your strategy should include the preferred methods of communication and guidelines for touching base with overseas team members.
The difference between picking up the phone and sending an email is one thing – the difference between how you should speak to overseas colleagues is something else altogether. You need to be aware of the cultural norms – where your culture may value direct communication, others could see this as rude or aggressive.
Unified Company Culture
Building a global team involves more than simply hiring people in several different countries. Staff require strong leadership and regular contact with other areas of the business in order to create a sense of working towards a common goal. Company culture is important.
Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, said that he ‘recognized the need to create a common culture that would ensure consistent values throughout the company, regardless of where our employees were working.’
Separation from other teams can lead employees to believe that certain locales hold more power or influence over company policy and decision, while having no communication links can see various teams working in ways that have a detrimental effect on their overseas colleagues.
Access a World of Benefits
Going global holds many advantages for a business that is prepared to invest time and effort into succeeding. You can benefit from the best talent, the best partners, and the best opportunities. Take the time to create a comprehensive strategy and you will enjoy the benefits of global business without suffering the pitfalls.
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