To keep my global small business innovative, I constantly track what the global giants are doing internationally. Where are they investing? Why? After all, they have more dollars to spend than I do and as they enter China, for example, in droves, there has to be a good reason for it. By taking a look at who's doing what in one of the world's most populated countries, we can learn lessons about focusing on this market with our own small businesses.
1. IBM. As one of the first global tech giants to make a huge investment in China back in 1995, IBM continues to launch an aggressive expansion campaign. With its China Research Lab, the company's mission is to connect the latest sciences and technologies from IBM worldwide labs to China and nurture the knowledge base for the good of people everywhere. After all, one out of every five people on this planet is in China. That’s an awfully large pool of consumers with money to spend.
Tip for small businesses: The megamarket in China awaits small businesses, too.
2. Starbucks. Big plan at the moment: Step up expansion into huge markets in China. Why? When you over-expand locally and entrench the marketplace, there’s nowhere else to grow but outside your own borders. China is it for Starbucks. Their plan is to open thousands of cafes in China and achieve great success in one of the largest markets in the world.
Tip for small businesses: When local sales begin to weaken, retrench and take steps to rejuvenate sales with a global strategy.
3. McDonald’s. The world’s largest hamburger chain continues to take on the fastest-growing global market, China, with a big capital investment boost. The country has attained 1,000 McDonald’s restaurants faster than any other country outside of the United States. According to Tim Fenton as quoted in “USA – McDonalds Target Emerging Markets”, McDonald’s president of the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, “It took us 19 years to get to a 1,000 restaurants in China. We will hit the second thousand in four years.” McDonald’s has the “critical mass” in China now for it to grow at 15 percent “new store growth” for the next four years, he said.
What’s even more striking with McDonald’s is that they not only expect to double the number of restaurants, growing from 1,000 outlets to 2,000 by the end of 2013, but the company has also launched the first McDonald's Hamburger University in China. This is the chain’s seventh worldwide. The goal of the university is to train new generations of managers as foreign companies increase their efforts to develop and retain Chinese talent.
Tip for small businesses: It can take 19 years to become an overnight success. The point is that you have to start someplace. Take a baby step.
4. Dell. As the official computer sponsor for the U.S.A. National Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, Dell will be showcasing how technology enhances the ways people and organizations live and work. The company recognizes the importance of the economic opportunity of investing in China. It is also monitoring the proportion of female entrepreneurs in China, which increased to 27 percent.
Tip for small businesses: If companies like Dell think SMBs will be the first segment to climb out of the recession and rebound once the economy picks up again, what should you be doing today to be a part of that action? Start developing a relationship and engage in a conversation at Dell's Take Your Own Path or the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network.
5. UPS / FedEx. Both UPS and FedEx — the world’s biggest international logistics and shipping companies — are considered barometers of the global economy. And both believe expansion in China is critical to future growth.
FedEx is especially attuned to conditions in China, which is now leading the global recovery. In May, exports out of China leaped nearly 49 percent year-over-year after growing more than 30 percent on the same basis in April.
UPS made its foray into Asia Pacific (1986) because it recognized that part of the world as an engine for growth. The company continues to build out infrastructure and create a stronger brand presence, calling itself a “technology company with trucks.” Now, its business in Asia and China is leaping ahead. Check out the new UPS Shenzhen Asia Pacific Hub.
Tip for small businesses: To see what’s going on with SMBs in China, visit UPS Business Monitor Asia. You might also review FedEx’s, “7 Ways to Extend Your Global Reach in a Shrinking World”.
If you want to stay hip and innovative with your business, make China a strategic destination for your small business. You may not have the resources of the big global players mentioned above, but your ingenuity and perseverance will enable you to transcend into this lucrative growth market.
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About the Author: Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can follow her on Twitter @LaurelDelaney.