What Leaders Can Learn From their International Expansion Projects

May 20th, 2024

Global Workforce

In an increasingly interconnected world, leaders are looking beyond their local markets to fuel growth and innovation. Can this also be a good tactic for bring learnings to your organisation? In a recent podcast, Briars’ CEO Andrew Fahey speaks to two elite athletes about how sports organisations have successfully done this.

Global expansion offers valuable lessons from diverse business practices worldwide. In a recent episode of the Beyond Borders podcast, we discussed what sporting and business leaders and their organisations can learn from international practices and how global expansion facilitates this learning.

You can watch the full episode of Beyond Borders below on YouTube, or listen here on Spotify.

Here are the top 10 things businesses can learn from international expansion:

1. Innovation Through Diversity of Thought

One of the most significant advantages of global expansion is the exposure to diverse ways of thinking. Countries vary widely in their approach to problem-solving, creativity, and innovation. For instance, the iterative, fast-paced nature of technology development in Silicon Valley contrasts sharply with the meticulous, detail-oriented approach seen in German engineering firms. By operating in multiple countries, a company can integrate these diverse thinking styles into its strategy and operations, leading to more innovative solutions.

2. Adapting to Different Consumer Preferences

Global markets are characterised by varied consumer preferences and behaviours. Japanese consumers, for example, place a high value on product quality and customer service, whereas consumers in India might prioritise affordability and value for money. By expanding internationally, businesses can learn to adapt their products and marketing strategies to meet the needs of diverse consumer bases, enhancing their global marketability and sensitivity to cross-cultural consumer behaviours.

3. Efficiency in Operations and Production

Businesses can also learn from the operational strategies that are prevalent in different regions. For example, lean manufacturing techniques that originated in Japan have been adopted worldwide to reduce waste and increase efficiency. Similarly, the Swedish focus on sustainability and environmental consciousness can teach businesses how to incorporate eco-friendly practices into their operations, often leading to cost savings and a stronger brand reputation.

4. Understanding Regulatory and Legal Landscapes

Operating in multiple countries requires navigating a complex array of regulatory environments. This can be a formidable challenge but also an opportunity to understand and leverage different legal frameworks. For example, the stringent data protection laws in the European Union have set a benchmark for privacy regulations worldwide. Businesses that learn to comply with such rigorous standards can gain a competitive edge in other markets that are increasingly prioritising data security and consumer privacy.

5. Advanced Risk Management

Global operations expose businesses to a broader spectrum of risks, from political instability and currency fluctuations to cultural misunderstandings. Learning to manage these risks can strengthen an organization’s overall resilience. For instance, companies in countries with volatile economies often develop sophisticated financial hedging strategies that can be beneficial in other high-risk environments.

6. Cultivating a Global Workforce

International expansion necessitates the development of a multicultural workforce. This not only helps in understanding local markets better but also enriches the company culture with a variety of perspectives and experiences. For example, Microsoft attributes much of its global success to its diverse employee base, which helps it stay relevant in different markets by bringing local insights into product development and marketing strategies.

7. Leveraging Competitive Advantage

Businesses can also learn to leverage the competitive advantages inherent in different regions. For instance, the tech industry in India offers a vast pool of skilled labor at a relatively low cost, making it an attractive hub for IT services and back-office operations. Similarly, the availability of rare earth materials in China provides a crucial advantage for companies involved in manufacturing electronics.

Global mindset

Global expansion can be a powerful learning tool that exposes companies to new ideas, strategies, and perspectives. By embracing the lessons learned from different markets, businesses can enhance their operational strategies, innovate more effectively, and become more agile in their approach to both local and international challenges.

The journey of expanding globally, therefore, is not only about exploring new territories but also about embracing a holistic learning approach that continuously enriches the company’s knowledge base and competitive edge.

If you would like to speak to us about your global expansion plans, email: sales@briarsgroup.com

Shaun Cumming

Shaun is Head of Marketing at Briars, bringing 15 years of content and marketing leadership experience from his time at global financial services firms such as BlackRock, BNY Mellon, Brooks Macdonald and Investec. At Briars, his mission is to tell the story of our company and its people, as well as to shape the brand as we head into a new phase of growth. Shaun is leading the talented marketing team and is a member of our Senior Leadership Team.