Thursday, 24 May 2007

Doing Business in the USA

Stories from the Export Frontlines
New Zealand Export Decade 2007-2017 is well underway, initiated by the Government’s Export Year. Clearly a year is not enough to transform the country’s insular economy into one that earns the majority of its income from international sales in all forms. China has succeeded with 10 year planning. New Zealand must also commit to long-termism.

We have many outstanding exporters, big and small, all with the ability to grow because of the uniqueness and excellence of their product or service innovation. Many many more internationally-minded companies are needed, with a few really big breakthroughs desired. Ideas about export models are growing, including:
  • What is made in NZ and what is actioned offshore
  • The role of our creative and design edge
  • The need for brand marketing of the country (which, excepting tourism, is largely non-existent, although a NZTE ad in the Australian Bulletin’s 22 May feature on NZ (“Tasman Tiger”) proposes that “If you’re looking for new thinking, look across the ditch”).

A key element in developing an international-looking culture in New Zealand is hearing from those people who are already doing it. As always, it comes back to people and stories. In early 2007 Kea Network and New Zealand Trade & Enterprise produced an excellent forum in New York with five international New Zealand companies, offering candid accounts of the challenges, insights and practicalities of doing business in the USA.

150 guests attended the forum at Saatchi & Saatchi’s Worldwide HQ at 375 Hudson St, moderated by NZTE's Beachheads Chair Bridget Liddell of Antipodean Capital, with speakers:

  • Mark Eglinton of Tenon USA (wood construction products)
  • Matt Williams of Glidepath (baggage-handling systems)
  • Victoria Vandagriff of Bendon (lingerie)
  • Stuart Gray of Methven (showers, taps), and
  • Jane Vesty of SweeneyVestyUSA (communications)

Exclusively on the Kea website are nine podcasts of each speaker and the Q&A, each 4-9 minutes long, and each 2MB. They are fantastic to listen to…people and stories…each voice is unique.

Topics/themes/advice covered:

  • Doing it the best
  • Having purpose, attitude and big ideas
  • Refining your uniqueness
  • Proximity to consumers to gain insights
  • Being committed for the long haul
  • Having a sound business plan
  • Having a maverick spirit
  • The role of good timing and good luck
  • Surviving your mistakes
  • Revisiting and revising your strategy
  • Checking, tuning and refining before expanding
  • Doing it step-by-step, having patience
  • Establishing trust, credibility, reputation
  • Being observant about US cultural characteristics
  • Finding, making, managing and exiting partnerships
  • Having the financial resources to survive initially
  • Conforming to rules, regulations, laws, protocols
  • Integration of NZ and US operations
  • How to weave in the New Zealand story
  • The importance of design innovation
  • Hiring experts – lawyers, accountants, IT
  • Outsourcing, supply chains, sales infrastructures
  • Insurance, health, visas, credit, ID theft
  • Social protocols, seasons, conversations

The Q&A podcasts cover:

  • Using "New Zealandness" to your advantage
  • What Americans find surprising about New Zealanders
  • Working with conservatism in America

Event sponsors were New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Saatchi & Saatchi, Crossroads Winery Hawkes Bay, Spy Valley Wines Marlborough, Lion Nathan, Methven, SweeneyVesty, Bendon, Icebreaker and Oxygen Lightworks.

Posted from New York City.

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