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Expand Small Business Internationally

Cloud Technology has Aided Business Expansion

Over the last century, we have seen a large shift in the mobility of society. While once segmented by geography, with limited transportation options, and living within miles of your childhood home were a norm, we now see cultural diversification, abundant transportation, and eliminated geographical boundaries. As we analyze over the last century this shift in physical mobility, we cannot help but draw parallels to the evolution in technology that has “expanded borders,” especially for small businesses. 

For example, take a small bicycle shop in the 1920’s that sells bikes, parts, and provides repairs. The shop owner may have dreams of being the most popular bike shop in town or of opening another location nearby. However, the dream of taking this bike shop globally was probably never a thought since the resources and technology were not yet available.

The astounding technological advancements of recent years have managed to make the world feel a little smaller and a little more borderless. In this new age of digital transactions, everything is interconnected, integrated, and interdependent. Travel has never been quicker, real-time communications are commonplace, and commerce is global. The international market is not limited to just goods and products. Intellectual properties, services, and talents are also marketed and exchanged worldwide. So where do small businesses fit in? 

How Small Businesses Can Compete with Large Corporations

Traditionally, the only thought facing all small businesses (like the small bike shop) regarding competition was: “is somebody doing something similar to me, and are they nearby?” but the rise of global corporations changed this for many sectors. These corporations began to compete in international economies and started to push branch operations into local cities. Therefore, small businesses were forced to try and compete with organizations that had far greater resources, often with little success. 

To be successful, these small businesses had to look at expanding beyond their local markets, where their advantage was defined by having more intimate knowledge of the regional business landscape. But, as small businesses embrace cloud computing, either at startup or through strategic, organizational change, they now have a new tool to compete on a global level. This impact can begin small, as cloud computing can aid companies regardless of budget. From day one, small businesses can make use of technologies and services that once were only available to organizations with larger IT budgets.

How SMB’s Can Utilize the Cloud for Expansion 

It is interesting to note the effects the cloud has on the positioning of small businesses. Cloud services are elastic and are procured based on need. Therefore, the services available are the same whether you are a small or large organization, thus becoming the greatest equalizer. Brand recognition, size and scope are some of the huge advantages of large organizations. But there is no substitute for differentiated products, processes or intellectual property which exists in every company regardless of size. If a small business focuses on reputation as a strategic advantage, then they can differentiate through agility, processes, and customer success, three of the deliverables that large organizations may struggle with providing consistently. 

More than ever before, small businesses need to consider their scalability from day one. Gone are the days of spending prolonged periods of time building up a strong base before approaching expansion. The cloud has allowed it to be part of the business strategy right from the beginning. By embracing and utilizing available cloud services, small businesses can take advantage of the same security, reliability, and performance benefits that bigger companies can offer. A smart strategy could be outsourcing the responsibility of monitoring and managing this task to cloud computing providers with stable infrastructures – the same infrastructures used by global corporations. This allows the small business to focus on product / service development, and the people and processes necessary to compete with their larger rivals. 

Should all Small Businesses Go Global?

So, is it smart for all small businesses to go global? The answer is not necessarily. We recommend for small businesses who are debating if going global is right for them, to rethink their priorities, business strategies and determine if the complexity of going global fits with their short- and long-term goals. In most cases, if they have provided a truly differentiated experience within their current market and have built a base of extremely loyal clients based on a highly successful, repeatable process, then that alone will eliminate most competitive pressures. Finally, the opportunity is there, and technology can make it happen.

Stay safe my friends, 

 

 

  

George Phipps

President | COO