Tag Archives: Challenges

How Do You Expand into New Markets? Three Perspectives

Situation: A CEO is evaluating a horizontal market development opportunity to markets related to their current market. There may be branding implications. The new opportunity focused on a different sector and can add business unrelated to current customers. However, the new opportunity will stretch current resources and potentially impact current business and service delivery. How do you expand into new markets?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Pros:
    • Because the new opportunity utilizes known capabilities the company should be able to segue into the new market relatively easily.
    • Because the company is already familiar with security and other issues relevant to the new market, compliance should present no challenge.
  • Cons:
    • Consider the impact on company time and resources. Building any new business will challenge current priorities and will require a careful balancing of efforts to assure that both current and new customers’ needs are being met.
    • Build workload and service schedules for both existing customers and the effort that it will take to develop the new opportunity including the time needed to create and build new customer relationships. Take your best estimate of resource utilization for the new effort and double it, then ask whether your current staff and capacity can handle both markets. If the answer is positive, then you can be more comfortable with the decision to expand into new markets.
  • As you evaluate the new market opportunity, look at both anticipated and unanticipated but predictable challenges that customers may face over the next five years.
    • For example, is there misalignment between future challenges likely to be faced and the current expertise and skill sets of managers who will be tasked with addressing these challenges? If so, tailor the sales pitch for new capacities to address these challenges.
    • Are there existing mismatches between products and services currently offered in the new markets, and do proposed solutions help to address these mismatches? If so, there may be significant opportunities in addressing these mismatches across multiple customers within the affected markets.

 

How Do You Satisfy a Difficult Foreign Customer? Three Factors

Situation: A company has a long-term relationship with a Japanese distributor that is also an investor in the company. Due to time zone differences and language difficulties, communications are very difficult. This leads to significant cost overruns for the company. How do you satisfy a difficult foreign customer?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • In working with a difficult partner, it is critical to set expectations, establish ground rules and repeat these at the beginning of each conversation or teleconference until it is clear that both sides understand each other. Even at this point, these should be repeated and reinforced any time a new individual is participating in the conversation.
    • Do you want us to give you (a) our honest answer, or (b) do you want us to tell you what we think you want to hear? – They would be foolish to choose (b).
    • Preface each critical response with this choice to reinforce the agreement at the beginning of the meeting.
  • In a situation where you are losing money under a fixed price contract, you may have to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting. During this conversation, you want to understand and establish:
    • Whether this relationship is profitable for both of us, and
    • Whether this project is doable by each of us.
    • Usually this will result in a radical shift in the model.
    • If it does not they it is better for both if you part ways. You are unlikely to reconcile the situation.
  • The bottom line is to establish, mutually, whether you can satisfy your partner through your efforts. This is critical to your future with this customer.
    • If you cannot find an acceptable solution you must abandon the effort.
    • It makes no sense to take on business that is not profitable to you, even if the revenue is important to plan achievement.
    • At the current rate, you will not make up the loss in profitability through additional volume.

What is Your Experience Outsourcing to Eastern Europe? Five Factors

Situation: A company is in contact with an Eastern European company that seeks outsourced business from the US. The CEO seeks guidance on challenges managing as well as formalizing this relationship. What is your experience outsourcing to Eastern Europe?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Location in Eastern Europe is important. There have been concerns with both corruption and IP protection in Russia. Some other Eastern European are more aligned with US/European values and farther up the ramp as outsource partners.
  • Experience of other US companies suggests that your spec must be written much more tightly than if you were doing the work here. If you can’t write a tight spec on the work, don’t outsource it!
  • Contract outsourced work on a fixed fee basis with the bulk of payment due on completion. This helps to assure that you receive timely delivery and the quality of work required.
  • Set up thresholds for the circumstances to engage an outsource partner.
    • Say one US worker is economically worth 5 foreign workers in your domain. Do you have enough work to support this?
    • Determine who will manage the outsourced work. A European is fine, as long as they have experience managing outsourced work.
    • Someone on your team will become their Project Manager. This can be VERY time consuming.
  • Consider setting up an offshore company to shelter some of the revenue from the outsourced work.
    • You want to locate the offshore company in a tax-free country, and to have them handle the funds connected with the outsourced work.
    • The contact in the tax-free country will likely be an accountant, lawyer or both. There are many reputable individuals who do this in tax-free countries, but be sure to check references and background carefully.

Key Words: Outsource, Eastern Europe, Challenges, Manage, Relationship, Experience, Concerns, Alignment, IP, Corruption, Contract, Protect, Spec, Fee Basis, Delivery, Quality, Parameters, Tax Shelter