Can Trust Provide Global Entrepreneurs an Edge?

Trust can empower global growth.Trust can empower global growth.

Several of my midmarket clients are considering moving into international markets in 2016. These leaders feel they are missing significant growth opportunities by remaining focused here in North America. They trust me to provide new growth opportunities.

What must they do to build a great global organization? I share with them it starts with a single element, trust.

I thought I would share several ideas that I’ve learned about trust from Stephen M.R. Covey. I’ve had many global companies as clients and, until I read Stephen’s books, I never thought their global edge was about trust. After I read several of his books, I can see how I missed this critical element.

Trust is the most critical element for entrepreneurs going international. We agree on trust being important for successful leadership. So go read his books and come back and let me know what you think. No, just kidding. You can read them after I share today.

I see the challenge of trust being more about trusting ourselves. As you begin to grow globally, you need to trust yourself if you hope to trust others. It’s easier to trust people that are like you with similar values and business cultures.

The challenge I found working internationally is that culture is a huge difference; one that many leaders miss when expanding beyond their own borders. I’ve been dealing with international business for clients since 1984. My experience includes bringing Japanese consumer products firms here to the Midwest. I dealt with such global giants as Sony, Panasonic, Canon, Mitsubishi, and NEC. Over the years, my client base has included many great global partners like Linde, Siemens, ABB, and many emerging technology businesses.

Today, and next Tuesday, we talk about several qualities entrepreneurs need to be successful in global markets. Today’s bog is about trust.  Next week, we talk about the other qualities needed to help you be a successful global entrepreneur.

The first quality of trust required to succeed as a global entrepreneur is being good at being honest with yourself. Too many mid-market entrepreneurs have lost their way because they overestimated their abilities to sell their products and services around the world. Self-awareness is critical to growing your global reputation. The good news is most successful entrepreneurs are self-aware.

Now the bad news; different cultures have different ways of being honest. I actually believe the word I would use here is context. Many of the qualities we value in business in the US can be limiting factors when trying to set up a global footprint. Most of my successful clients have found that once you know the rules, the better you are at deciding where you want to play.

This means that entrepreneurs who are very intuitive may struggle in the early stages of setting up in new countries.  It typically takes twice as long as the initial estimates to begin selling in other countries. There are many ways to help establish yourself including joint ventures and strategic alliances to get you started.

The second quality of trust required to succeed as a global entrepreneur is to demonstrate respect for the new markets you’re moving into. With today’s technology, it is become easier to manage the many complexities of moving into global markets. When demonstrating respect, entrepreneurs frequently struggle to understand the culture they will be running their business in. I’ve found that there is significant value in working with professionals who have proven experience dealing with the local governments and regulatory bodies in these new markets. I’ve also used resources from many great universities to help acclimate my clients to their future markets’ business practices.

Demonstrating respect also means to be willing to work outside your comfort zone at different times during this stage of your expansion. Technology can do many things to enable your global growth, but sometimes it requires a meeting in person. So be prepared to go the extra mile to help establish trust.

The final quality of trust required to succeed as a global entrepreneur that we will talk about next week is transparency in a global venture.  I believe transparency can provide you and your organization an incredible edge in dealing globally. Let me see if I can convince you as to why it’s so important.

See you here next week.  On Friday, Tricia shares several ideas that can help you feel better and more energetic in less than 30 minutes per day. See you Friday!

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