Global Chamber® is featured in the Winter 2016 quarterly "TechConnect" Magazine. Special thanks to Steve Zylstra, President/CEO of Arizona Technology Council and Chairman Emeritus, Technology Councils of North America, for your continued collaboration and support. It means a lot to us... thank you!
Here's an excerpt from the TechConnect article, with a link to the full article below...
For many members of the trade community, one name instantly comes up as a leader in his field: Doug Bruhnke, CEO of Global Chamber®. Bruhnke has been involved with helping companies grow locally and globally for 30 years. TechConnect asked him about his career journey and the state of trade.
1) What prompted you to focus on global trade for a career?
Back when I was a new chemical engineer with the DuPont Company, I was doing technical support on polymer products for Asian customers and enjoyed the fact that they viewed the world differently and pushed us in ways that U.S. customers did not. I saw opportunity in that to grow the business. My first trip was to Korea. I arrived a day early in Seoul, walking all over the city on a cold and snowy day, absorbing the sights, sounds, smells and tastes. From that day I was hooked! Since then I’ve lived overseas twice, traveled to 50 countries and had countless memorable experiences, nearly all good! Our daughter had the chance to grow up in Tokyo and Singapore and it helped her evolve into an amazing young woman. To me doing business in the U.S. only is intolerably dull.
2) How did that escalate into launching the Global Chamber®?
Two primary triggers created Global Chamber®. First a prominent person stood up in a Phoenix public meeting and declared that foreigners should be kept out of Arizona because they take jobs. That was so wrong, the next day I was inspired to start a monthly meet-up discussing global business. The basic idea for Global Chamber® was born! Then I thought that we could make global business easier for companies if we built a network of talented and trusted people in cities around the world, and created a chamber where membership in one city meant membership and connections everywhere. Now that’s what we’re doing… our audacious dream was complete, with global headquarters in Phoenix. Mayor Stanton has been extremely supportive, and now mayors and businesses all over the world are jumping in as we start chapters in 500 metro areas. We’re the only organization in the world dedicated to trade across every border that collaborates with every organization. We’re still more vision than reality, but we’re ahead of schedule, and our network is growing every day.
3) What conditions makes this the right time to be involved in foreign trade?
It used to be that U.S. companies could simply grow in the states and that was enough. Now most business growth is happening somewhere else. Opportunity knocks, and far too few are proactively capturing it. Less than 1% of U.S. companies export, and 3 out of 4 of those are exporting only because a buyer approached them, not because they planned it. Over half of exporters do business in only one country, and in over half of those that country is either Mexico or Canada. So the number of companies proactively exporting to multiple countries beyond border countries is infinitesimal. It’s time.
4) Are there issues specific to science and technology when it comes to becoming involved in international trade? How can they be overcome?
Today technology facilitates trade in so many ways, from finding customers to the day-to-day of doing business. With cross border trade it’s important to have a cadre of team members that you know, like and trust to help reduce risk and increase success. And so we’re using technology including the Global Chamber® Virtual Portal, and talented people to help companies navigate the world. We’ve found tech companies tend to want to do everything themselves, and that usually results in multiple mistakes, and sometimes in disaster. Overcoming human behavior is often the biggest challenge! Perseverance is required, and preferably tech companies can be open to help before the problems start.
5) In a Global Chamber® blog posting it was stated that one of the most difficult challenges is securing adequate growth capital to fuel the rapidly growing, export-driven company. Growth capital is a challenge for the startups even without exporting. How can it be overcome the second time around?
Just like U.S. companies, U.S. funding organizations also tend not to be very global. They often stick with what they know, and far two few investors are comfortable with global business. So it’s a challenge. But there is a growing number of high net worth individuals in other countries who know business. So cross-border investing is a significant opportunity. Global Chamber® is working on connecting more foreign investors to U.S. companies who seek global expansion.
6) Are the opportunities wide open for science/tech in general or are there particular fields more likely to succeed because those products seem to be lacking in other countries? And services?
There are no limits to growth opportunities, and often they may not be what you think. A simple example is wireless phone technology. As communities are developing across Africa, phone systems have gone directly to mobile rather than land-based phone infrastructures. That has implications for every kind of technology – mobile or otherwise. Mobile mania impacts the demand for services like banking, where in Nigeria transactions can be done easily by phone.
There’s likely demand for your products or services, or something like them, in other countries. Education, medical products, infrastructure, technology and food are all hot areas.
Take the leap and then be creative, flexible and resilient. Understand new markets and discover what you can deliver. Too many times the assumption that what works in one country will work in another is a recipe for disaster. But chances are that if you do the fundamentals of listening and adjusting as you navigate the world, you’ll find opportunity.
To paraphrase Al Franken’s character Stuart Smalley, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people will like you.”
For more visit TechConnect, Winter 2016, page 10-11.
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