01 Feb Business Development – Looking for Expansion
Business Smarts – Exporting Key to Big Revenue
We’re well into an era where we have to stop thinking locally and grow beyond our borders. The fact is, there simply isn’t enough business to be done in a local market, and since businesses must specialize to compete, there won’t enough demand for specialized products and services locally for us to survive.
If we stop being timid, target new markets and deliberately innovate, there are big wins possible. It looks like innovation is a huge challenge for Canadians and there’s cause to be concerned. We have to change our thinking.
The gap in competitiveness has widened in mining, oil and gas, and financial services. It also has been significant in the manufacturing sector where, since 2000, U.S. productivity has grown six times faster than in Canada. — quote from Design Engineering
If we take a look at exports and productivity reports, and competitiveness, we know there’s something wrong. Reports say Canadian companies don’t realize they have a problem, so perhaps the first step is: assess current situation which is a lack of confidence, lack of investment, diminishing productivity (weak value proposition) and business stagnancy. Then we turn our attention to new markets for services. Services are our future.
How do we convince Canadian businesses to solve a problem they don’t know exists? Make sure they have timely, accurate information about their competitive environment – and how they really compare.
Focusing on Foreign Markets
I was just revisiting the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service website which is purportedly for encouraging an entrepreneurial export mindset. But as the above graphic shows, manufacturing and product exports are a diminishing reality for Canada (other than natural resources). Sorry EDC and CTCS but that has to be recorded as a major failure.
The future for us is the services around manufacturing such as research and design. But investing in intellectual capital isn’t a strong suit for such programs. The CTCS and export development corporation need to evolve to better support Canadian companies that can export services. Software design is obviously a big possibility however services related to the health and medical field is huge opportunity. Marketing services is especially ripe given our 78 cent loonie.
Foreign Export Interests Will Grow
There seems to be a growing number of service businesses in the Toronto area (I’ve mentioned digital marketing agencies) but they’re all underfunded with no real value proposition to become competitive internationally, or even in the US. A big tax break would be just the boost needed to get our service export potential activated.
Service industry growth won’t happen unless Ontario business people really put an emphasis on doing business in the US. It has to be a grass roots thing, not driven by government (who just want to spend billions on importing mass transit systems). It should be a priority for Ontario businesses and it sure will be for Alberta now. I might add that Germany and the UK are becoming excellent markets as well so we need to get over our inferiority complexes and see this as it is — a golden opportunity for major revenue successes.
Nationally, we need a strategy and positioning that will ensure Asian copycats can’t duplicate or prey on us. We need to commit to first class marketing strategies. That means innovation/evolution in how we think about business opportunities and problems. And it means innovation in marketing practices, not mediocre copycat, “best practices” malarky. We need to be bold and insistent on being leaders, not followers.
In my next posts, I’m going to look deeper into such service export strategies. Stay tuned!