International Business: Who is pursuing your best international business opportunities?

Published: Thursday, Feb. 2 2012 11:00 p.m. MST

“He built international into the largest and fastest-growing part of the company,” wrote Collins. “In fact, under Weissman’s stewardship, Marlboro became the best-selling cigarette in the world three years before it became No. 1 in the United States.”

The moral of the story is not that we should enter the business of selling deadly vices, but that investing in huge international opportunities with the best people and resources can pay huge dividends. Shortsighted companies will be left in the dust if they invest less than 1 percent of their resources in foreign opportunities merely because foreign sales make up less than 1 percent of revenues.

Who is spearheading your company’s international growth? Does that individual have all the resources and support they need to tackle big opportunities?

Companies like Apple, for which 62 percent of its sales come from outside the United States, make tackling global opportunities look like a no-brainer. In Apple’s big push for global growth, the tech giant recently recruited (at what we may assume was a hefty price tag) John Browett, CEO of one of the largest consumer electronics retailers in Europe, to head up its global retail business. Although Apple.com did not make the list of top 10 best global websites in 2012, the company has a strong global presence with its iOS supporting 34 languages, and those sales figures are quite a testament to its success and dedication to worldwide expansion.

Before seeing as much global success as Apple or another large international corporation, business leaders must have the fortitude to perform the research and to make an investment in international expansion. The situation and potential will vary from company to company. However, when international business suggests itself as the biggest opportunity, I agree with Collins that the best people should be put on the biggest opportunities. As someone once said, “Even when opportunity knocks, a man still has to get up off his seat and open the door.”

Adam Wooten is director of translation services at Lingotek. He also teaches a course on translation technology at Brigham Young University. Email: awooten@lingotek.com. Follow him on Twitter at AdamWooten.