Global Expansion: It's Trickier Than You'd Think
Clive Oshry is the Co-President of Globex Foreign Exchange Corporation, one of the world’s leading foreign exchange brokers. With locations across Canada, the USA, the UK and New Zealand, Globex trades in all major international currencies and has more than 17,000 satisfied customers. To contact Clive, e-mail him at [email protected].
There’s a saying my brother and I have been using since we were kids: “More than you’d think.” It’s a motto that came in especially handy during meal times.
“How much syrup do you want on your pancakes?” he would ask, the bottle hovering over the stack.
“More than you’d think,” I’d reply.
When we decided to go into business together, that motto stuck. It especially hit home when we
decided it was time to open our first foreign offices. We hoped our international offices would smooth some of our business’ rough spots. They did … but only after creating a boatload of new challenges. As it turns out, our family motto came in handy when conducting business across borders. Here are some lessons we learned:
More research than you’d think.
From regulatory issues to employment standards, every country has its own particulars. We ended up having to learn a lot of these details on the fly. If we had conducted more research, we could have implemented the current systems proactively rather than post-mortem.
More lead time than you’d think.
Everything takes longer when you’re unfamiliar with the business landscape. We assumed British business practices would be comparable to Canadian ones— we were wrong. We discovered that just because people speak your language, it doesn’t mean they share your culture.
More problems to consider.
When a problem arises overseas, they take longer to resolve. In fact, it takes more time to even realize a problem exists. Combine all of this with a time zone delay that gums up the gears of
teamwork, and you can expect things to move at a glacial pace.
More patience than you’d think.
Turning a profit took longer than expected at our foreign offices. It was an eye-opener for us to
discover how much time and effort was needed to manage our foreign exchange risk, even though we are in that line of business. We realized how relevant it was to our bottom line, yet we still struggled to actively manage the risk— we eventually had to implement new systems.
Through all of this learning and growing, we were able to weather the storms. I’m happy to say that things are now ship-shape overseas and at our headquarters. What’s more, our foreign ventures have turned out to be so successful that we’ve decided to set up shop in Australia. This time, we’re ready for the challenges that lie ahead. How many will there be?