SMEs are ideal for going global. Three main factors make that a reality because in general SMEs are more flexible, have less red tape, and offer a unique product or service. Tune in to this interview with Romaine Seguin, President UPS International, Inc. Americas Region, as she shares insight into going beyond the borders of the US.
Romaine: The small and medium enterprises are really the biggest opportunity for organizations to go abroad and I’ll tell you why. They have a unique product, they have a unique service. They don’t have all the red tape for the large organization and they can usually cut to the chase to get to a country or a market much quickly instead of a larger organization. I think if you look at just Mexico for example or anywhere in the Latino market, a majority of the companies that they will deal with are SMEs, very few large multinational companies.
There’s some very key companies, don’t get me wrong, but the SMEs is really the backbone, not only in the United States but of the international markets too because there’s that unique product or service that people want [and the flexibility] absolutely! Flexibility when you have a ten or twenty, thirty, fifty employee company, you can move a lot more quickly as opposed to like UPUS, 420,000 employees. It’s just the nature of this when you have a larger organization trying to go international.
Nancy: What about market trends are there any market trends that small business owners should be paying attention to?
Romaine: Yes, the first thing I would always educate myself on is the Free Trade Agreements and I’ve worked a lot on the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and so what does that mean for your product, so that’s point one.
The other market trends should be paying attention to is what is going on with e-commerce? Is it all amazon or is it there another player out there and e-commerce is here to stay, and I think if you watch the trends of what countries are fulfilling e-commerce and where your product and service can integrate into the e-commerce, whether it’s technology on returns, I just name a list of small medium companies would want to have your service, I’m just thinking of returns because usually that’s what people look at. When I order something, I know if I’m not quite satisfies how am I going to get it back. There’s a big movement towards that.
As far as trends, the last point I’ll close down on is, as you well know, there’s a lot of political elections coming up, and the one thing I’ve learned especially in the market omen, is depending who you put as a leader in that country, can really change a market dramatically. Unfortunately or fortunately, and I can give you examples, Argentina changed their leader, commerce has gone up now, they are open to business. But if you put a leader in there that is not open to business, then you’re going to see a different outcome for the small, medium or any multi large company that will go into that country. There’s really major elections coming up, we have Colombia, you have Mexico, and Argentina. These are three major countries [and it goes back to what you said earlier about doing your homework] yes, exactly. [In terms of understanding the country, the trends, the culture, and what’s going on] And you know if every opportunity to go there, if you have a relative there, or if you have a business partner there, I know it’s some parts of the earth its more cost effective to travel there, I’m just traveling there in January and the ticket prices are astronomical but January is expensive because of the holidays. So being cognizant that when is the best time to go, obviously the best time that includes the price of getting there but also can you meet who you need to see in the market or vendor or whoever you need to be there to engage with to get your product or service there.
Nancy: Beautiful, and then finally, what advice would you give to female entrepreneurs on how to conduct business internationally?
Romaine: don’t be afraid because you are a woman, there’s a lot of perception of women getting treated differently. I think if you go there with a very business savvy case, business savvy mind people will respect you immediately so don’t be afraid of business because you’re a woman owned business, number one.
Number two, if you get a no or a door shuts, try again, don’t let the first no shut you down. You’re going to some no’s, I had seven no’s in my career but keep going. You’re going to have a door that opens.
And the last advice I’ll give is try to go through the market you’re trying to go through. I can’t emphasize that enough. I’m a big believer of touch and feel, again and how things really work in a country, you can read about it but as soon as you have to, touch to see it. That’s really a real experience [a fist hand experience] yes, absolutely.
Nancy: Any other last minute piece of advice?
Romaine: I just wish you all the best in 2018 and whatever UPS can do from a strategic partnership with you let us know, but more importantly why I’m doing this interview is because I support the organization that you are involved with so good luck and God bless you and have a great 2018
Nancy: Thank you so much
Romaine: You’re very welcome!