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“An internationalisation strategy is essential for any company”

Interview with José María Sainz, author of Practical Internationalisation Plan for SMEs

  • Key4Communications

In this interview, José María Sainz, author of Practical Internationalisation Plan, explain us main aspects to be considered when starting an internationalisation plan and the main opportunities presented are discussed.

- Why should Spanish companies go to foreign markets?
An internationalisation strategy is essential for any company, including SMEs, from a defensive as well as offensive perspective:
•     Offensive reasons: to grow and develop the business, expanding into all markets in which there is an opportunity. As a means of corporate development.
•     Defensive reasons: not to disappear as a result of a decrease or poor growth in the local market: either due to the crisis, the entry of new competitors or an accumulation of circumstances that threaten the very survival of the company.

-What are the main issues to consider when starting the internationalisation plan?

It is a good idea to avoid common errors such as:
o    Thinking that all markets are like the domestic market.
o    Not being clear on the aim of the plan.
o    Thinking it will be easy and setting impossible targets. When discussing the internationalisation of a company, remember that "success is a matter of persevering when others have given up" and that "someone who has something to live for can cope with anything".
o    Not allocating sufficient resources for the objectives set.

-What long-term benefits does it have for the company?
The globalisation of exports boosts at least three mechanisms improving sustainable competitiveness: generating an irreplaceable source of learning and continuous improvement; having global distributors additionally provides antennae, radar and observation points scattered around the world; diversifying risk provides a significant level of protection even more pronounced than before the crisis.
Internationalisation is not just a commitment to expanding the market but to something much more global, a strategy to spread risks and reduce local attachment. Internationalisation is also instant market information, a source of knowledge, performance, trends and expectations, as well as a driver and facilitator of competitiveness.

-What should we know or analyse regarding the markets targeted?
It is necessary to know the attractiveness of different markets/countries (size, expected development, importance and level of competition, socio-economic and cultural proximity, etc.) and the adequacy of the company's value proposal for those foreign markets being analysed (leveraging strengths, economic-financial viability, country risk, etc).
One of the main qualities of an entrepreneur is to be able to sense a business opportunity (often an unmet market need) and then design a business model: the sum of a customer segment, a value proposal, a distribution channel for the product or service, a customer relations strategy and the definition of key activities, key resources, income sources and its cost structure.

- In short, how can you undertake the internationalisation of the company in such a way as to guarantee success?
A business plan based on four pillars: innovation , as a source of generating added value, based on the conviction that the present, however splendid it may be, always bears the mark of coming to an end; internationalisation , based on its business model, is a fountain of information and key learning, continuous improvement and diversification; complete customer focus , to add value to the business, anticipate needs and even expectations and thus achieve complete satisfaction; and behind-the-scenes, human resources should be young, creative, well trained, excited about the project and committed to its values.

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