A Local Experience in Global Expansion
The world has become wide-open, allowing companies of all sizes to compete in the growing global marketplace. Local businesses like The Look Company contribute to the Greater Barrie Area’s global identity and economy by achieving great success with their international expansion.
The Look Company began with advertising banners and a plan to become a supplier in the Canadian sport marketplace. It wasn’t long before the banner developed into more of a branding solution than an advertising solution and their product evolved into creating the look and feel of sporting events. With the realization that there are few national sporting events held in Canada, they discovered that significant opportunity existed internationally. Every sport federation has its world championships, every geographical region, its regional games.
Their model already consisted of the product strategy, the fulfilment strategies and a very clearly defined business plan. They could go to Qatar and do the Asian Games, or go to Manchester to do the Commonwealth Games. It didn’t matter that one was in England and one was in the Middle East, the fact was that it was similar products, similar processes and similar core competencies to what they had developed here in Canada.
How do you know if you are ready to go global? Gerry Price, President and COO of The Look Company shares the key elements necessary to achieve international success.
Look for a market that has a need for your product. If you want to go and be important to a market, find one that is in its infancy stage and help them develop and nurture themselves. We had discovered that sporting events were a wonderful vertical market for us. We were one of the very first companies into that space. We had developed products that worked better than existing products and we had developed better hardware systems that weren’t even used, in that space. Instead of expanding into new products, we continued to do the same thing – in new markets. We didn’t reinvent the wheel.
Perfect your core competencies and your business plan in Canada before you go global. If it doesn’t work at home, it isn’t going to work anywhere else.
Develop a strategic plan. If you don’t do a strategic plan that gives you a roadmap to success how in the world would you know what success looks like in that foreign market? We don’t know what we don’t know about that market. You need a strategic plan.
“As a global player, always look for opportunities to see where you can share resources to make one plus one equal three.”
Gerry Price, President & COO, The Look Company
Don’t assume to know everything. Look for a local joint venture partner. If you have a local that is already proven to be successful and you have a business plan, that you know through your strategic plan can be successful, the chances for success go through the roof.
Make yourself mobile, create a travel team. Although we located in Qatar, for other international regions we created a travel business plan that allows us to follow events. Globalization kind of implies that you go somewhere and put down bricks and mortar. In this new era of doing business (with the ease of communication, networking and shipping and product supply), when we think of globalization it doesn’t have to be about going somewhere on a permanent basis, it can be about going somewhere on a temporary basis to achieve a specific goal and then move on.
Have an exit strategy. With any global market there is going to be a reason that some day you may need to retract from that market. Currencies can fluctuate, political environments can fluctuate, market demand can fluctuate, competitive nature can fluctuate; it’s probably more important to understand your exit point as much as your entry point, so you don’t get hurt on the exit.
Look at global markets as incremental revenue sources to make incremental profits that you can’t make in your own market. Who says you have to be there forever? We’re in Canada forever, because we live here and do business here.
The world is getting smaller. Opportunities for networking appear as they never have before; access to foreign suppliers, partners and key influencers exists at the end of a keystroke. You can headquarter in a thriving region like the Greater Barrie Area and access markets worldwide. The Look Company, with head offices in Innisfil, Ontario, Canada and Doha, Qatar and sales offices located throughout North America, is a strong Canadian business achieving dominant success in the global marketplace.
Jane is Editor-in-Chief and writer for Sunday Crush. She lives in Barrie, ON