For companies embarking on international growth, the most immediate concerns tend to be financial, strategic and regulatory. But an organization’s human capital— not just the “hard” business topics mentioned above—can be the linchpin of any expansion.
There are three key rules that apply to almost any international expansion that’ll help you manage the human aspect of your growth and, in the process, secure the business outcomes for which you’re accountable.
Develop Your Soft Skills
Guiding a company into international markets requires skills and priorities that many leaders might think of as “soft.” Have you created a culture that can thrive on change? Have you reckoned with cultural difference and the need to be flexible? What about defining a human-focused mission that not only reminds your employees why they come to work each day, but also draws in new ones for something other than a paycheck?
In a successful expansion, you’ll need to attract and retain a group of spirited and able advocates who are willing to put their necks on the line for your success. They won’t do that if you treat them like automatons, so build up your company culture at the same time that you’re addressing the “hard” aspects of business strategy, financials, etc.
Don’t Do It Alone
Although drastic change makes it tempting to double down on insular, controlled management of processes, this is actually the time to resist such an urge.
Why? Sheer practicality. If you’re like most, you can’t manage every aspect of an expansion by yourself. This is why your choice of partners can be so critical. You’ll likely need help with transactions, regulatory environments, finance and more. Enlist a strategic partner to manage those factors for you, and then you can move on to tasks that are a better use of your time and effort.
“IN A SUCCESSFUL EXPANSION, YOU’LL NEED TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN A GROUP OF SPIRITED AND ABLE ADVOCATES WHO ARE WILLING TO PUT THEIR NECKS ON THE LINE FOR YOUR SUCCESS.”
Senior Vice President of Sales, Velocity Global
Also, trust your own people, not just your consultancy. The most successful organizations are ones that allow their people to exert their talents in an unfettered way.
Change to Be Permanent
The value of an idea lies not in its constancy but in its adaptability. Likewise, the ongoing value of your company—to your customers, shareholders, and to the world—depends on whether you will be nimble enough to live out your guiding principles in fresh, new ways.
The only viable view of human capital and talent is a holistic one, so inventory your human assets, have faith in them, bring on new allies to help you make sense of it all, and remind yourself that your business is about, above all else, people.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 issue of Middle Market Growth.
Rob Wellner, Velocity Global’s senior vice president of sales, draws on 12 years of experience in capital markets to help organizations expand internationally, including using Velocity Global’s International PEO service to overcome challenges associated with global M&A. For more information, visit velocityglobal.com/acg.