How Indian Businesses Can Become More Successful Internationally
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The Indian economy is booming and the entrepreneurial spirit flourishes more than ever before. That is really great. But it doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
As you may already know, my expertise is creating fruitful collaboration across cultures that can hopefully lead to mutual beneficial synergies. But often our starting point is a crisis. A crisis that developed because of insufficient cultural intelligence, improper communication and poor leadership on both sides.
A few recommendations
Prepare your company and your team to go international: Get cultural intelligence training so that you better can understand and analyse an unfamiliar culture. That will save you a lot of time and money. Most of the Indian teams,get people on board either temporarily or permanently who can infuse you with new perspectives and challenge your basic assumptions. It is much better they do it than your prospective clients do it.
Gain intelligence: Get to know as much as possible about your prospective market or a specific client. Make the assumption that everything is different from what you are used to. Behaviour, values, norms and basic assumptions. Find out what is valued and appreciated. For instance, the word “Quality”. We all use it but it has very different meanings depending on who you ask.
For some, it means to deliver on time, for others to deliver the best possible product and for everyone else, something completely different.
Plan!: Plan for how you are going to enter a new market or how you will win a specific client. Your technical skills and experiences are only a part of the formula for success. We have seen a lot of Indian IT companies failing abroad because they lacked an understanding of what the client really expected and because there was a huge lack of cultural intelligence on both sides. When you make these plans, remember to get someone from outside to assess and evaluate them. This is the only way you can develop a successful international business development plan. We have helped develop quite a lot and it takes time with many iterations before it is right,assure you it is worth the effort.
Get feedback: Feedback is great when the client praises you. But the most valuable feedback is the ones where they don’t. Ask for structured feedback after every single engagement your company has accomplished. Let the client fill out a feedback form, so you get the same questions answered every time. Don’t forget to ask the client about how you can improve. Lastly, use the feedback to actually improve and change.
Structure your international business development process: Do proper assessments of the different markets of your interests and the different industries and be clear about the drivers. You can’t beat the drivers but you can help your clients succeed if you understand them properly. What drives your clients? Growth? Cost reduction? Consolidation or something different?Make strategic alliances with companies from other countries and/or industries: That will broaden your outlook and provide different - very valuable - perspectives on all your business development activities. You need to be fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Not the strengths and weaknesses you think you have but the real strengths and weaknesses that lead you to successes and failures. You only get that knowledge with external help.
The more diverse your team is the more likely it is you will succeed internationally: It’s so much easier working together with people you have known for many years, who have the same education as you, from the same university or business school. But as comfortable as it is, it will set you back. Try to make your team as diversified as possible on all parameters (gender, age, education, nationality etc.)
The list above is not prioritised: Take a critical look at your own organisation and critically assess how well prepared you really are. That goes for a small team in a startup company to the biggest enterprises. You can easily beat the competition just by doing things smarter than your competitors.