Despite the ongoing challenges facing the world as it navigates pandemic recovery, businesses across every sector are targeting growth. Having paused to meet the difficulties created by lockdown, organizations are now taking the harsh lessons learned during the past 18 months and using them to build ambitious expansion strategies.
For many, the future lies in going global, and enhanced global reach is the linchpin in the growth strategy of today’s corporations. Moreover, recent technological advances make it possible for virtually any organization to do business globally.
The widespread adoption of the internet provided a huge catalyst for growth. Investors realized that the U.S. represented about 26 percent of the world’s economy, leaving close to three quarters up for grabs by domestic-focused software companies empowered by ubiquitous digital infrastructure.
Today, this is reflected in the globalized structure of the world’s biggest and most successful businesses – companies listed on the Fortune 500 operate in an average of 317 international locations. There’s no doubt, therefore, that going global enables organizations to focus on transformational success. The motivation for doing so can vary and may be triggered by a range of opportunities:
Companies understand the potential beyond their domestic markets and borders, so the push to expand internationally is often fuelled by the transient opportunity to secure a first-mover advantage in their industry or product category.
This has become particularly important in the digital economy, where the power that comes from being first in a region and a product category has helped many organizations to achieve a significant competitive advantage. This strategy typically sits at the heart of the need to deliver growth and supports a bigger, long-term vision for the company.
The availability of local talent
For others, hiring an individual in another country creates the impetus for global growth. In some cases, this is because the organization has successfully hired an established top performer in that territory. Conversely, there may have been a longstanding ambition to establish a local office, but the company has held off until it could locate a qualified employee. Either way, the catalyst is the availability of talent located elsewhere but who is believed to be critical for the company’s future growth. That professional’s geographic location then spawns a larger-scale effort to grow the company from that one location.
Remote working has reached a tipping point
As we all know, just over 18 months ago, workplace norms changed overnight as remote work moved from being a preference to a mandate. While millions of people headed home to conduct work from a makeshift home office, some moved out of cities temporarily to more remote locations, but all who could were still working.
The change in workplace demographics was unprecedented in living memory. As of 2017, only 2.9 percent of the U.S. workforce, or 3.9 million employees, worked from home at least half the time, according to data from FlexJobs. By late 2020, research by Gallup revealed that two-thirds of U.S. workers who had been working remotely during the pandemic expressed interest in continuing to do so.
Almost simultaneously, many of the traditional barriers to international expansion are quickly disappearing, with digital platforms available that allow organizations to cost-effectively outsource key operational functions, from HR and tax to compliance and payroll.
Those organizations that embrace the potential in global expansion will be ideally positioned to reap the rewards in the short and long term.