UPS and Global Chamber held a CEO seminar that featured Mike Flanary of Universal Laser Systems. The purpose was to share key ideas on developing a global strategy for other senior executives to learn from for their own company.
We've documented some of Mike's thoughts here in post 1 of 3.
Today: Get Ready to Go Global
Next: Tips on Global Strategy
Get Ready to Global
The world is changing quickly! By 2018, Mexico will replace China as the #1 trading partner of the U.S. Over 95% of the population and an ever increasing portion of the wealth is outside the U.S. And yet less than 1% of U.S. companies export, and of those, only 42% export to more than one country.
So much opportunity!
Universal Laser Systems has captured plenty of opportunity, with over 60% of sales being exports, and exporting to over 100 countries. In fact as they ramped-up exports, they were able to sell to 25 countries in the first 24 months.
In retrospect Mike mentioned that it may have been wiser to go a little slower, but they succeeded anyway. Sales are way up. EBITA is up 35% since their export push.
Here's a summary of some key points on getting your business ready to go global. Contact us for more information.
1) Choose to export. It smooths out the bumps of any one particular economy. Much of the work to develop one market is foundational in setting up elsewhere, and so increasing exporting countries from 1 to 2-4 increases sales by 3X. When expanding to 8-10 countries, sales increase on average by 10X. Export, and go to multiple countries!
2) Localize. Be aware of local differences and localize your offering to each region without changing who you are.
3) Comply with export regulations. From Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to a variety of export regulations, be aware and in compliance. With Universal Laser, their product was classified along with nuclear reactors, and so they've had some challenges getting product in to some countries.
4) Understand country level risks including landed costs. Consider financial, tax, currency and tariff issues. Review human resources and health & safety to be ready. Dial in language and culture differences.
5) Be operationally ready. Simplify your processes and make them scalable. Once you're selling to one country, it's relatively easy to expand. Not easy, but relatively easy!
6) Know how to pay for it. Universal Laser has funded from revenue, and that's certainly ideal.
7) Surround yourself with 'been there, done that' resources. Have a knowledgeable attorney, accountant and more.Protect yourself from yourself with experts.
8) Pace yourself. Mike suggested that the firm may have expanded too quickly, quickly ramping to 100 countries, and yet most of their business is in just a dozen countries. Choose your battlegrounds and don't over extend.
Many thanks to Mike Flanary for sharing his insights on global business. Watch for two more posts on his presentation this week.
Also thanks to UPS and their regional team for collaborating on this seminar.
Mike Flanary is a business leader with over 25 years of experience combining vision, strategy, and innovation to define and introduce global market products and programs. He has led various global marketing, manufacturing, product development organizations throughout his executive tenure with Global 2000 and small cap private companies. Mike has successfully expanded international presence and growth for businesses in consumer electronics and industrial machinery markets. Mike was hired as COO and VP of Universal Laser Systems in 2007. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Computer Science from The Ohio State University.
About Universal Laser Systems: State-of-the-art engineering and manufacturing facilities are located at the global headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, where both lasers and laser systems are manufactured and exported all over the world. Additional operating offices are located in Vienna, Austria and Yokohama, Japan. The Universal Laser Systems Global Factory Authorized Service network is on call around the globe for local system installation, service and maintenance. Mike Flanary will discuss challenges, opportunities and best practices - on how Universal Laser has increased international sales to over 60% of their total, and most of their new growth.
UPS works with retailers to help solve their problems. As a global shipping expert serving more than 220 countries, UPS is helping break down the barriers retailers face in selling products to online consumers around the world. We leverage our global expertise to help streamline everything from packaging to fulfillment to returns – to make a direct impact on their bottom line and provide superior customer experience to their customers. With 95% of the world's consumers living outside of the United States, UPS continues to develop technologies and solutions to give consumers a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.