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UPS and Martha Stewart Talk Growing Global and Exporting Your Brand – #Gateway17

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 15:30

What do CEO and Chairman of UPS David Abney and style-maven Martha Stewart have in common? They both think that growing globally is a great way to expand a business.

Global Expansion Tips

Both spoke at the Gateway ‘17 event in Detroit today, sharing their thoughts on opportunities for small businesses in China and beyond.

First, Abney gave his talk on the opportunities and challenges of selling products overseas, a topic he’s qualified to address since UPS ships to countries around the world, including China. In fact, before he was named Chairman and CEO, Abney served as the President of UPS International, where he often reminded employees and clients about the power of thinking beyond just the U.S.

Like others at the conference, Abney stressed the importance of gaining an understanding of your customers before selling to global markets.

“To sell around the world, you must go native,” he said.

By this, Abney means that you need to really understand the customs and preferences of the people you’re selling to.

He offered an example of one of the first times UPS sent a flight to China. The company was so excited and wanted to make it special. So they had a dragon painted on the side of the plane. But the dragon was facing backwards (in the wrong direction) on the plane. It’s something the team would have known had they consulted anyone from China, or someone familiar enough with the culture to understand the importance of the direction the dragon was facing.

For this reason, Abney said, it’s very important for businesses to immerse themselves and do lots of research when breaking into new markets.

Of course, you also need to understand the logistics and practical processes of selling overseas, which companies like UPS can help with.

For her part, Stewart also shared some tips for small business owners based on her years of experience.

The lifestyle mogul has recently started exporting her various product lines to China and other international markets, a move that has made her businesses even more profitable than previously imagined.

Of course, it’s not as easy as just saying you want to export. Stewart also stressed the importance of knowing the markets you plan on entering.

For example, her line of sheets is something that appeals to Chinese consumers due to the quality. But they don’t usually have access to the same size washers and dryers as American consumers do. So the company had to make a small adjustment to make sure the products would be practical specifically for Chinese consumers.

“It’s just about making smaller versions of luxurious things,” Stewart said.

In addition, Stewart spoke about the amazing power the internet and social media give small makers and small business owners to reach people around the world. Stewart has made great use of social media for her businesses. And she thinks that things like livestreaming, podcasting and online video offer unique ways for businesses to build a great deal of recognition when breaking into new markets.

Stewart also applauded Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, whose company sponsored the event, for choosing to host in Detroit, which she called a “hotbed of American makers.”

Gateway ‘17 is a conference for small businesses looking to expand by marketing to Chinese consumers. The event began June 20 and carries on through June 21 at Cobo Center, Detroit.

Images: Small Business Trends/Annie Pilon

This article, "UPS and Martha Stewart Talk Growing Global and Exporting Your Brand – #Gateway17" was first published on Small Business Trends

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China Needs Your Small Business Products – #Gateway17

Small Business Trends - Wed, 2017-06-21 13:30

China is the next big frontier for small businesses, according to a Keynote from Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba, at Gateway ‘17 at Detroit’s Cobo Center today.

When the internet was booming in the mid ‘90’s, Ma did a search for “beer and China” and found no results. That’s when he first realized there was a gap in the market — eCommerce products for Chinese consumers.

After a series of failures, including rejections from colleges, being turned down for a job as a police officer and even being the only one out of 24 applicants to be turned down for a job at KFC, Ma decided that he was destined to go into business for himself. So he turned to that idea of creating an eCommerce solution to serve Chinese customers.

Even then, there were a lot of doubters. China didn’t have the credit card services or logistics that made eCommerce a good fit in other markets. But Ma really believed that it was something Chinese consumers wanted and that if he started right away, he and his team could make it happen eventually.

“If we do not succeed, someone else will,” he said.

So he built a team, attempted to gain some startup capital, and eventually started with about $50,000.

There were plenty of failures along the way. But those failures turned into lessons Ma has been able to share with other business owners. One of the most important lessons, which specifically relates to businesses looking to break into new markets like China, is to really understand the needs of your customers above all else.

“Investors may not like us. But if our customers like us, we can survive,” Ma said.

So for the businesses looking to explore opportunities within the growing Chinese market, capturing customer interest can make the difference between success and failure, Ma explained. You might have a great product that people in the U.S. love, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to automatically be a hit in China. But you may also just need to find the right partner or make a small tweak to your offering that can open up a whole new world of possibilities for your small business.

Business Opportunities in China

And there’s plenty of opportunity and demand. According to Ma, the Chinese middle class is currently at about 300 million people. And there are plenty of products, ranging from sneakers to baby food and even live lobsters, that consumers want to spend their disposable income on when given the opportunity.

Overall, Ma says that it’s important for businesses to be open to new possibilities, especially in the age of the internet. And he thinks small businesses are going to be at the forefront of changes in China and around the world over the next 30 years.

“The world is shifting from standardization to personalization,” he said.

So the companies that provide products created for a specific market are those likely to succeed. And small businesses are poised to do just that.

Gateway ‘17 is an event aimed at helping entrepreneurs learn about the growing opportunities for selling to Chinese consumers. The event drew 3,000 registered attendees over June 21 and 22 to downtown Detroit.

Shanghai Photo via Shutterstock

Jack Ma photo: Small Business Trends/Annie Pilon

This article, "China Needs Your Small Business Products – #Gateway17" was first published on Small Business Trends

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