Blog

  • 23 Oct 2017 by Ernie Watts

    Ask any small - medium size business owner and he or she will likely tell you that time is really scarce compared to the number of important things to do.  Little wonder then that many business leaders look askance at invitations to join yet another organization.  Membership means valuable time taken away from the business.  The decision to join hinges on the proposition that membership is worth it and the burden of proof falls upon the organization to identify the sources of value to businesses. 

    Assessment of the decision to join or not has been a topic for discussion for many years among the association community.  Let us begin with the upfront statement that what we are talking about here is membership in an organization (Global Chamber®) whose sole purpose is to help businesses DO foreign trade not merely talk about it.  The value of membership in the Global Chamber® stems from business needs for: 1. information, 2. inspiration, 3. support, 4. referrals, 5. Affirmation, 6. training and 7. fun.  Each will be discussed in turn.

    1. INFORMATION    Circumstances surrounding an activity like foreign trade can change daily. New laws, new regulations, new transport alternatives, changing political conditions, volatile exchange rates, etc. are usual.  Consequently, it is of great importance to decision making that the latest information is available.  In this environment, up to date information is especially valuable.  Global Chamber® offers updates on developments in foreign trade.  On behalf of member needs, Global Chamber® surveys, gathers and reports on up-to-date foreign trade developments saving individual members time.

    2.  INSPIRATION   The press of daily business sometimes narrow one’s focus; obscuring the view to new opportunities.  To many, time away from the office, spent in a supportive atmosphere that allows members to think about foreign markets, sharing thoughts and bouncing ideas off peers facing similar challenges can inspire thinking and action.  Members, during the course of regular meetings can most likely expect to benefit from conversations with peers in the hallway outside the meeting room as well as from formal presentations.

    3.    SUPPORT    There are many small to medium size businesses where there is but one person assigned the task of being the “export guy”.  Many toil alone on trade issues.   Global Chamber® members come to monthly sessions and they sit next to and talk with others who share their interest in and responsibility for foreign markets. They will find members who will be supportive and perhaps provide a “shoulder to cry on”.

    4.  REFERRALS      At some time in the consideration of foreign markets, all businesses likely will confront an issue or problem with which they are unfamiliar.  Questions arise like, Where to turn? Who to call? and Who can I trust?  Finding help can involve a cost of search that can be prohibitive.   The Global Chamber® provides unprecedented and immediate access to sources of help around the world. Referrals can be provided on such items as: on-the-ground across-the-world personal contacts, government services, legal advisors, tax advisors, training and a host of others not only in the Chicago area but throughout the US and more than 500 locations worldwide.  A member of in Chicago is automatically a member in ALL 500+ metro locations around the globe.

    5.  AFFIRMATION   Often, if we work in the rarified atmosphere of foreign trade we reach conclusions that may leave us uneasy because we have not had a chance to test those ideas with another person knowledgeable with trade.  Global Chamber® members can use their associations with other members to test ideas or verify them in close personal conversations perhaps in the hallways or in small group Export Circle meetings.   More than likely, a Global Chamber® member will have the opportunity to share his or her experiences and reaffirm what they suspected.

    6. TRAINING    Even companies that are mature foreign traders and have been at it successfully for years can find benefits special to them.  The CEO can send a junior staff member to be an active participant in the Global Chamber® by taking on a committee assignment, doing some public speaking, organizing a committee or designing and leading a project. This is great training in the “soft” skills that the junior staff person can bring back to his/her work in the company.  Opportunities to develop these kinds of skills are limited in most companies – especially as they relate to foreign trade.

    7. FUN    Getting together with other business leaders who share an interest in global trade can be fun.   Global Chamber® meetings are all designed to maximize the opportunity to talk with one another – not just sitting and listening to speakers.  Global Chamber® members make friends as well as deals.

    The choice to be involved in an outside organization can be a difficult one given the claims on a business’s time.

    However, if a business is looking for growth by expanding into global markets, membership in The Global Chamber® is well worth it as a place to collect information, carve out special time to focus on global trade, meet in a supportive atmosphere and provide training to younger employees – all in a fun atmosphere.  

     

    So, go to www.globalchamber.org and sign up today!

     

    Ernie Watts

    Executive Director, Global Chamber® Chicago

    ernie@globalchamber.org

  • 30 Aug 2017 by Doris Nagel

    Strategic alliances are essential when expanding globally. If you’re exporting, you need distributor partners or sales agents.  You need partners to help with logistics, export compliance, after-market servicing, tax and legal advice, and savvy website support.  

    If you’re setting up a new office, you need a strong human resources and benefits partners, and a whole host of local service providers you can completely rely on. The make or buy dichotomy isn’t totally apt when entering new markets because of the risks, complexities, and distance. Even if you buy a local company, you’ll still probably need to outsource several key services.  

    Successful partnering is the name of the game. But many companies – even large ones – are often frustrated and disappointed with their international expansion results or the speed of achieving those results.  

    Why?

    A partial answer is inadequate cross-cultural skills. Unclear processes and governance are also to blame, because they often take far more time and patience internationally than is expected or budgeted.

    But there’s also the lack of partnering skills -- something we call "Partnering Intelligence."  It's a core competency that translates bold international sale growth promises into true shareholder value. These competencies are actually measurable.  Every executive, manager, and employee has a quantifiable "PQ" or Partnering Quotient. Much like an IQ, it measures the capacity someone has for partnering.

    People with a high PQ do what it takes to implement the necessary organizational and cultural changes to make the new alliance work smoothly. They choose their partners more carefully, are thoughtful about alliance governance, and focus on the necessary hard and soft skills.  

    What are the attributes of a high PQ?

    1. Ability to trust. Do you give people your trust, or do they have to earn it?  This is probably the most important competency. Trust in this context doesn’t mean shaking hands at the end of a meeting and expecting your partner to deliver exactly as you believe you agreed. There are many reasons in cross-border deals that this may not happen. What we mean by trust is the belief that your partner is well-intentioned, and will put the best interests of the alliance first.  
    2. Comfort with change.  Are you comfortable changing not just the status quo, but your status quo?  Most people believe they are far better with this attribute than they really are.  And global expansion tests the limit of that comfort.  
    3. Comfort with interdependence.  Can you allow your partners to accomplish their assigned bits, even if they don't do it the way you would? This often takes some serious thought about the objectives vs. the process for getting there.  
    4. Self-disclosure and feedback.  Can you easily articulate and disclose your needs, as well as express your appreciation or disappointment?  Articulating needs is particularly challenging in cross-border partnerships, as so much communication is intertwined with our own cultural orientation. Delivering effective feedback also requires more care, as the way it is delivered and received varies considerably among cultures, as Erin Meyer’s book The Culture Map demonstrates.  
    5. Win-win orientation.  Do you employ a problem-solving approach that creates wins for both partners?  Beware of subtle biases that result from one partner deep down believing they have the “upper hand.”
    6. Past/future orientation.  Do you look to the future rather than the past in evaluating your alliances? This also can be challenging, as so much of each person’s experience is wrapped up in their national or regional culture.

    Together, these critical attributes form a validated system of behaviors to create productive partnerships. Partnering attributes can be measured and learned. Combine these with defined processes for implementing and guiding your alliances, and you have a repeatable formula for success. We call people with these competencies "smart partners."

    In the end, businesses don't partner -- people do.  Companies that build effective partnering competencies in their workforce will fare much better than their shoot-from-the-hip counterparts in achieving success from their business alliances.  They experience less frustration and fewer missteps, and create more powerful partnerships.

    And their international expansion will flourish as a result.

    Like to learn more?

    Attend "To Have Better Partners, Be a Better Partner,” being held on September 14 from noon-1 p.m CST – here’s the registration link HERE.

    Contact the author Doris Nagel of Globalocity Services HERE.

    Thank you!

  • 27 Aug 2017 by Ernie Watts

    Is Africa on your radar? Do you currently do business in select African markets? Do you lump Africa in with your European and Middle East regions as just one more incremental market?

    Too many companies sell themselves short by taking an after the fact approach to Africa. Back in 1994 I was asked to take on the challenge of developing the sub-Saharan African market. Like many companies we had been cherry picking opportunities in Northern Africa from our European base and operating through a distributor model in South Africa. Results were predictably unpredictable. A different level of commitment was required.

    Building upon lessons learned in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific and Latin America, our leadership team recognized that real growth in Africa required an African company presence, the right local partners and an understanding of the diverse local markets across the continent. Where to begin?

    South Africa certainly offered several key initial advantages for our brand. It was an exciting time in the country when I first landed there in June of 1994. Nelson Mandela had been sworn in as president only months before and the country was throwing off the shackles of decades of isolation. You could feel the optimism and enthusiasm of a people coming together as one to re-join the global community.

    But, 50 million South Africans do not a continent make. So we set out to build upon our presence in South Africa with a segmented strategy in Kenya, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana and beyond...leveraging regional and local expertise along the way. 

    How much faster would we have developed if we had been able to tap into an installed base of knowledge?

    This is how the Global Chamber de-mystifies the unknown and gives you the confidence to accelerate growth - by leveraging on the ground know how with technology to quickly get you up to speed with trusted connections and collaboration.

    Join us on Monday, August 28th at 9:30 AM CDT for another multi-metro, virtual globinar to hear directly from experts on Africa in Lagos, Johannesburg and elsewhere as they share their expertise and offer their insight. Then leverage your membership for introductions to key players and resources.

    Click below to register - then let's talk about how we can help you accelerate your growth in Africa.

  • 14 Aug 2017 by Ernie Watts

    You want to grow your business, but you can’t be everywhere to do it. You don’t have an unlimited budget — time or money. Should you even consider expanding beyond your home market?

    We’ve read that 85 percent of the business opportunities in the next five years will be outside the US. — 99 percent of them will be outside metro Chicago. Cross-metro and cross-border business isn’t for everyone. However, more companies need to think about it because, increasingly, the opportunity to grow comes from somewhere else.

    We’ve heard some experts say that companies that are not global won’t survive past the next five years. That seems pretty extreme, but why wait to see if it’s true? Change your paradigm and you’ll likely have a better chance to reach 2020 and beyond a lot wealthier and happier.

    Conversely, we’ve heard that “globalization is dead” as well. Not exactly. Businesses around the world are capturing more and more opportunity every hour and every second of the day. Code and key words don’t change anything … executives will do what’s right for their business. So, if some U.S. companies think globalization is ending...then companies from another country will take their place.

    One way to tackle the challenge of global growth is to leverage a worldwide system that touches every city, town and company in the world. We’re making it easier for you to grow from here to the metro across the state line or the country border. It’s hard to know what opportunities are the best, the most reliable and the ones that pay. Global Chamber supplies a lot of that information directly and indirectly — through members, connections and collaborators — and then we connect you. 

    Want to grow? Concerned about doing it alone? Join us!


    Ernie Watts

    Executive Director, Global Chamber Chicago

    ernie@globalchamber.org

  • 24 Jan 2017 by Global Chamber

    Investing in Cuba

    Wondering whether this is a good time for you to consider the possibility of investing in Cuba? Many conclusions are that Cuba now represents a lucrative opportunity for U.S. businesses:

    • Cuba is home to more than 11 million consumers with nearly 60 years of pent-up demand for U.S. goods and services,
    • The Port of Havana is only 198 nautical miles from the Port of Miami, facilitating trade,
    • Millions of U.S. tourists will need travel-related services for their planned vacations to Cuba.

    On the surface, these factors appear to present a compelling case for doing business in Cuba. Listen to experts on Cuba and see if it for you.

    Attend the Why Cuba Forum on January 31 at the offices of Polsinelli located at 161 N. Clark St, 41 st Floor, Chicago IL 60601 where we will connect with our offices in Denver & Phoenix.

    The Why Cuba Forum will consist of business briefings, sector opportunities and access to our trade delegation, departing May 2017. More Information.

    SPONSORED BY:

     

     

  • 20 Sep 2016

    The Global Chamber® Chicago  is pleased to announce its latest member & Chairman SponsorBlue Marble Global Payroll!

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Founded in 2013, Blue Marble's mission is to help small and mid-sized companies streamline their international payroll processes. By forming partnerships with best-of-breed providers in every country that Blue Marble serves and linking them together with Blue Marble’s proprietary web-based technology, the company is able to provide industry-leading technology backed by exceptional service at a reasonable cost. From Argentina to the Zimbabwe, Blue Marble’s robust cloud-based payroll solution makes it easy for small- and mid-sized companies to manage international payroll in 135+ countries. For more information on Blue Marble Global Payroll, please visit here!

  • 08 Feb 2017 by Andy Aiyer

    Although people rarely put an extensive amount of thought into their marketing materials, their quality can make or break how people view your business worldwide. All printed pieces that showcase your business’s products or services are representing you and your company in a very tangible way when presented to international customers. These printed materials should not only help sell what you do but who you are. Not sure where to get started? Let’s break down Profi Solution’s top five tips for developing amazing marketing materials for your global business.

     

    1. Decide how you want your business to “feel” internationally.

    Your business brand is much more than a clever logo and slogan – it’s the combination of everything you and your company represent. Whether that’s your products, your community involvement, or your mission to serve your customers and clients, your company brand is all about the “feeling” that surrounds everything you do. Deciding how you want your brand to be perceived by potential clients and customers is the first step in creating printed marketing materials. As you are doing business around the world, examining the tones your brand conveys is important to ensure you’re reaching all of your target markets. If you plan to do business in several global markets, try to pursue a feeling that can be shared easily in different cultures. The overall feeling you’re striving to achieve will guide the design process to create brand consistency through the different countries you work with.

     

    1. Focus your sales and marketing pitch on your customers.

    The customer reading your marketing collateral needs to be at the center of every design and content decision that you’re making. A good place to start is by asking yourself why a client or customer should care about your products or services. Why do they want to work with you? What do they feel they gain from your business? From there you can design marketing materials to be filled with graphics and content that answer these questions. When your business is local, answering these questions is usually a simple step. However, when you are doing business internationally, you need to break down each community you work in and dig deeper to find the value you bring them as a brand.

     

    1. Take your time when writing the content

    If beautiful design is king, than well-written content is queen. You need to slow down when writing the content for your marketing materials and evaluate what you’re saying and the value it brings to your company image. This is even more important when doing business overseas, as all of your writing and design will require a second look to make sure nothing could be construed as offensive or confusing in an international market. Take some time to learn more on how messages are delivered in the markets you are targeting and consider always teaming up with a local that can help with language and idioms. Finally, it may sound simple, but spell-check everything, have another set of eyes or two proofread, and always make sure you’re maintaining factual accuracy.

     

    1. Make sure all of your bases are covered.

    You never know what kinds of marketing collateral you’re going to need as each country and region has a different approach when it comes to these materials. Make sure you have every box checked before you get into a situation where you’re under prepared. Brochures, flyers, stationary, packaging, posters, and presentation pamphlets are all good things to have on hand in case you need them. Having the appropriate materials will stand up during international delivery and it is always important to make sure your packaging meets foreign requirements.

     

    1. Don’t go it alone.

    Designing marketing collateral is necessary, but isn’t easy to do by yourself when it goes to the global scale. Having a seamless, professional look can be a key factor in winning new business – or expanding your business to regional or international markets. Luckily, Profi Solutions can help you create amazing printed marketing material for every circumstance you and your business may encounter. Let’s work together to make your next sales meeting go seamlessly. Working with clients from all around the world, Profi Solutions can definitely help you in getting a better insight. Check out our portfolio of design work here, and begin to imagine the wonderful possibilities that are available to you.

     

    By Andy Aiyer from ProfiSolutions, part of ZG Worldwide Consultants - Member of Global Chamber Chicago

    Contact Andy Aiyer today at andy@profisoltuions.com, or give him a call at (217) 721-9927, and he can get started creating amazing marketing materials for your business today.

  • Ask the Expert 

    John Galvin

    Global Consulting and Accounting, UK Office             

    Do US companies always need to setup an entity in Canada?

    Often in Canada, US companies do not need to set up a new entity or pay corporate taxes in Canada. It all depends on the type of business you are doing there and the job roles of your employees in Canada. As a general rule, the less customer-facing your Canadian staff are, the more likely it is that you do not need an entity. We advise each client on a case-by-case basis to ensure we find the most cost-effective compliance solution.

    How is Canada organized between the Federal State and the Provinces?

    Like the US, in Canada compliance and withholdings are split between the Federal and the Provincial level but there are some important differences. US companies need to register for a Canadian Federal Business Number and Federal Employer Registration, while Worker’s Comp is based on a Provincial system.

    What is the most difficult Province from a payroll perspective?

    Quebec is almost a country within a country. US companies find it much harder to manage their Quebec compliance in-house as the rules are extensive and official documents must be submitted in French. The solution which works well for our clients is to outsource payroll and compliance to a partner who is familiar with Quebec.

    What’s your Top Tip for doing business in Canada?

    Remember that Canada is a separate country with its own laws and taxes, so expect rules and regulations to be different than the US. Ask us about Expat tax and social security complications too if your US staff are spending a long time in Canada.

  • 06 May 2016

    Hi, I’m Juan Carlos Davila, Executive Director of Global Chamber Chicago.  Our team is excited to announce that Global Chamber has landed in Chicago. We have already started connecting member companies to businesses and organizations around the world, bringing new opportunities to them and the metro area.

    Global Chamber is the only organization in the world that helps companies grow beyond all borders - from every metro area into all other metro areas, collaborating with regional organizations around the globe to build new opportunities for them and their community.

    Contact me directly to learn more about how you can grow your business from and to metro Chicago through global connections and our other services.

    Looking forward to working with you to grow globally!

     

    Juan C. Davila

    Executive Director, Global Chamber Chicago

    juan@globalchamber.org