Information technology consultant Harry Sellow says IT entrepreneurs going global should start the process with these steps:
1. "Find someone abroad with whom you can form a partnership," says Sellow, president of Harry Sellow & Associates in Menlo Park, California, which helps business owners penetrate foreign markets. "Regardless of what type of partnership you create, find one that can add value to your product for the marketplace you're going into. That might mean a company that makes the product work in a particular language or within a country's engineering and cultural habits. That can also create tariff breaks by enabling you to enter that market as a local company rather than an American one."
2. Go to the most specialized trade shows you can find. "Use them to hunt for partners and find out everything you can about your industry," says Sellow.
3. When you go to a trade show, have your product ready for sale. "Trade shows have a much higher status [overseas] than they do in the United States," Sellow says. "Europeans in particular expect you to come with a final product. They're suspicious of Americans using the show as a barometer to gauge reaction to a product that's still being refined. Entrepreneurs abroad are ready to make sales on the spot."
Christopher D. Lancette is an Atlanta-area freelance journalist who covers international business for a variety of local, national and international publications.
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