Top 10 things we learned at the WPO 2023 Entrepreneurial Excellence Forum


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FITT was thrilled to support and participate in WPO 2023 Entrepreneurial Excellence Forum which took place last week in Las Vegas. This event gathered women who lead multi-million-dollar businesses, to share trends, solutions and inspiration from all kinds of experts in many different sectors.

Business growth often has to include an eye to international expansion and FITT was there to connect women entrepreneurs to the know-how they need to be successful in global markets. In this article, we will cover 10 of the key learnings that were shared at this productive event.

1. Stay on top of the changing landscape of global challenges

It’s essential for business owners and entrepreneurs to stay informed about the critical issues and trends that may impact their operations and decision-making. The global challenges which are currently affecting businesses worldwide include the debt ceiling, fallout from banking turmoil, inflation, interest rates, China’s reopening, geopolitics (war in Ukraine), and climate change.

Each of these factors can significantly impact the global economy and have a ripple effect on businesses in various sectors. Staying informed about these challenges will enable entrepreneurs to make well-informed decisions and adapt their strategies accordingly.

2. Re-globalization is shaping supply chains

After experiencing both globalization and deglobalization, the world is now witnessing a process known as re-globalization. This process is characterized by a renewed emphasis on global interconnectedness and can be seen as a response to previous trends of isolationism in certain countries and regions.

This transition involves the adoption of new trade policies, such as switching trading partners, revamping supply chains, and focusing on domestic production.

3. Friend-shoring may be the best way to react to China’s “de-coupling”

Another notable aspect is the concept of “de-coupling,” where countries like China aim to reduce their dependence on the United States. While re-globalization offers potential benefits, such as increased stability and reduced vulnerability to disruptions, it also presents risks.

Friend-shoring, a strategy of engaging in trade with friendly nations, ensures continuity, but may come at higher costs and potentially disrupt global trade leading to inflationary pressures.

4. Closely monitor inflation trends

Inflation has been a significant concern in 2022-23. The goal is to bring inflation rates down from their current levels, such as Canada’s 4.4%, to a target of 2%. The decrease in goods inflation can be attributed to a decline in demand as China reopens, and supply chain stability improves.

However, services inflation remains elevated, mainly due to higher wages and salaries. Business owners should closely monitor inflation trends and consider the potential impact on their costs, pricing strategies, and overall financial health.

5. Beware of currency risks and other economic shifts

In the face of these challenges, business owners must remain vigilant and prepared.

Monitor the economy for signs of a potential downturn or recession, which some experts predict may occur in Q2 and Q3.

In addition, the persistence of sticky inflation calls for a cautious approach and the expectation of restrictive monetary policies in the foreseeable future. Markets, including currencies, interest rates, and equities, are likely to remain volatile, demanding attention and proactive risk management.

6. Global ambitions require global skills

Having a strategic mindset is crucial when venturing into international trade. Instead of relying on opportunistic approaches, businesses must develop a well-thought-out strategy, including an organizational pillar, financial pillar and operational pillar.

This mindset ensures that decisions are based on thorough research and analysis, and identifying opportunities aligned with long-term goals.

Going global requires trade-capable individuals within the team who possess the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate global markets effectively.

7. Consider the “double half rule”

The “double half rule” highlights that it often takes twice as much time and efforts to achieve only half the value (compared to domestic business) when expanding internationally. Never underestimate factors such as the amount of time, money, and effort required.

Cultural differences and language barriers can also pose significant obstacles. In addition to that, being up to date with customs regulations, policies, trade agreements and other regional regulations will be the base to establish and maintain the relations with partners.

8. The power of networking

Networking and leveraging available resources play a vital role in addressing these challenges. Establishing connections with organizations such as chambers of commerce, Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), Export Development Canada (EDC), Business Development Centers (BDCs), and Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) can provide valuable support and guidance throughout the export journey.

Being a part of WPO 2023 Entrepreneurial Excellence Forum proved this point of the value of leveraging the network and mutual support of female leaders.

9. How to determine if your business is export ready

A strong export plan is a critical component of success in international trade. Research is the foundation of such a plan, enabling businesses to make informed decisions. We highlighted five key considerations while creating an export plan:

  1. Clearly define objectives
  2. Select the right market based in extensive research
  3. Choose the right product(s) to enter the market gradually (sometimes you don’t need to go with all your products at once)
  4. Establish an appropriate financial model
  5. Determine the most suitable fulfillment process

It is important to continuously update and adapt your export plan based on new insights and market dynamics.

10. Get the right people on the bus

Great organizations make sure they have the “right people on the bus” and the right people in the key seats before they figure out where to drive the bus.

Does your business have the right talent in place with solid experience in international trade?

It does not matter where your business originates from or what it does – your priority is to recruit the right talent with relevant experience. So, when it comes to business expansion, you need a team that understands how to:

Regardless of the position, what is exceptionally important for the success of your team is the amount of professional experience and training they have.

Additional resources:

About the author

Author: FITT Team

The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) is the standards, certification and training body dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses. Created by business for business, FITT’s international business training solutions are the standard of excellence for global trade professionals around the world.

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