Whether it is an expansion of one company, the merging of multiple, or simply a business deal, international business is an art often underestimated or taken for granted altogether. The opportunities offered by the expansion of markets is unattainable when confined to one area and can offer tremendous rewards if executed properly. Most businesses, however, are unaware of what really sets international business apart from operating locally. Following are observations by a seasoned participant in the teaching, researching, and consulting of international business as well as supporting statistics.
It is a common misconception that conducting business internationally is the same as business as usual but expanded across multiple foreign countries or areas. This is a misconception for a reason. Specific training and tools are necessary in order to fully understand and implicate the differing strategy. For example, an issue that may arise while conducting business locally will have added complications simply because it is occurring in a foreign country. Possible complications could include differences in regulation, politics, or culture. As observed by Lilach Nachum, an expert on issues related to globalization and international business, too much focus is placed on overcoming the challenges that international business poses instead of capitalizing on the many unique opportunities. According to a study done by IBM, "Capitalizing on Complexity," more than half of the CEO's interviewed said they felt unprepared to effectively manage their international operations. Both unpreparedness and focusing on challenges instead of opportunities take away from the overall goal of international business.
Opportunities are ever expanding, as the overall international market has grown from 15-20% of the world population in the 1970's to 95% today. Previously closed countries are opening to international business, and increased diversity has come with it. Advances in technology have also afforded international business with the luxury of interconnectivity. Managers need to be able to recognize and address challenges that come with these advancements in order to capitalize on all potential opportunities. Therefore, international expansion should not be seen as a default option for growth, but a conscious choice that is well planned and prepared for.