BDB Network – Your Business in the World

International Business Development and Internationalization: two terms in search of clarification

30 May 2022
BDB Network

The definitions of “International Business Development” and “Internationalization” are something extremely wide-ranging and therefore tend to generate doubt and confusion among companies that approach professionals offering these activities.

This confusion makes it very difficult to understand the line between a business development activity, purely related to sales and to the increase in turnover that comes from it, and the activity of creating international structural development strategies.

On one hand, the figure of the “Business Developer” is too often confused with that of the salesperson or even worse that of a “connection facilitator,” who has no specific expertise regarding the business he/she is facilitating but is merely limited to a marginal function of contact between two parties.

On the other hand, in the last few years, the word “Internationalization” has become a must on the websites and LinkedIn profiles of anyone who does consult work: lawyers, accountants, marketing consultants, public relations experts, and even companies that organize events.

Anyone who has taken a trip to the United Arab Emirates more than twice or toured a bit in Eastern European countries or China defines himself or herself as an internationalization expert.

To further confuse entrepreneurs’ ideas, there has also been the contribution of the figure of the “Temporary Export Manager” which has also been associated with the supply of public contributions, in favor of companies that apply for them; logically, in this case, we are referring to very junior figures who are integrated into the company with the task of finding new commercial channels, mostly linked to trade fairs or initiatives promoted by organizations or trade associations.

Clearly, this abundance of supply has raised the expectations of entrepreneurs for miraculous solutions that can turn their company’s fortunes around, in the blink of an eye and with an investment of only a modest expense reimbursement, to carry out what would soon become the nightmare of every hopeful entrepreneur: missions!

Soon, however, disappointments came, resulting in quarrels between the company and the consultant as well as blame for a lack of success projected as a done deal or for overly optimistic expectations.

The advent of the pandemic also uncovered another weakness, which is the inability to follow up on the development of overseas work for those who, not having stable roots in the territory, are forced to travel to carry on the work. Moreover, there was a halt to trade fairs and industry events that, although carried on digital platforms, did not give the same return as in-person events.

But then what is meant by “International Business Development” and “Internationalization”?

In order to arrive at a definition together, we can start by understanding which business needs can satisfy these two activities. The first thing an entrepreneur should clarify is, “How do we want to develop our business?” Only after answering this question, it is possible to determine the type of approach and service he or she needs and consequently the type of professionalism, skills, and economic commitment that should be provided.

In general, it can be said that the two needs most frequently expressed by entrepreneurs are: boosting revenue growth and internationalizing one’s business.

In the first case, when we talk about turnover growth, related only to the acquisition of new contracts, orders, etc., it is necessary to include a sales figure who has specific knowledge of the sector and strong connections with the main potential local clients; at the same time, however, it is necessary to be able to count on someone who can give local support for the execution of the activity once the contract has been acquired.

This is particularly applicable in the case of activities related to works to be carried out or supplies of services and goods that involve the assembly or production abroad, since if the company does not have its own structure (meaning a physical and stable presence, with offices and staff) in the target country, it will, in any case, need assistance on the territory.

In the second case, on the other hand, if we are talking about growth in terms of true internationalization (i.e., having a stable presence in a country other than the home country), it is necessary to be able to count on a structure that can assist the company in various aspects for which is required to have specific professional skills and knowledge of local regulations.

Whether we want to open a site from the scratch or acquire a local company that is already established, it is of fundamental value to obtain legal, tax, and administrative assistance; but also, to foresee people who can do scouting activities of the best companies to acquire and opportunities to establish in the local market.

As you can guess from reading the two scenarios described, in both cases, there are two elements that can never be missed when we talk about “Business Development” and “Internationalization.”

  1. Expertise in professional services (legal, tax, administrative);
  2. Presence in the territory

Both are indivisible elements that a consulting structure must have if it wants to offer effective support for international development.

We must also highlight the importance of an activity that comes before the development phase in a specific country, and it is essential to minimize the risk of wasting time and economic resources: the development strategy and the accurate choice of the foreign market in which operate, must be carried out by a structure that can give the company a clear vision of the advantages and risks related to each market: a work that to be trustworthy must be based on real data and experiences, provided by those who live daily in each country taken into consideration.

The choice cannot be based on the instinct of having to grab every single opportunity or based on information contained in databases or provided by local promotion entities that by their own nature must give a positive representation of their respective nations.

Here is explained the difference between those who propose internationalization at zero cost and in a flash and structures such as BDB Network, which after years of work and very careful selection of its team, has created a truly unique organization in professional services dedicated to International Business Development and Internationalization with roots in every single nation where it operates, and a central platform capable of monitoring all countries and giving a global, real vision of individual opportunities and weaknesses.

A structure that was created and is dedicated to supporting the development and operation of companies abroad, with professionals chosen based on proven experience in the different sectors and partners with great ability to penetrate the different countries.

These are the prerequisites for being able to offer serious and lasting support to companies that are ready to start an internationalization path within a reasonable time frame and with a well-thought-out development strategy.

For these companies, after outlining the strategy, BDB Network will be able to identify the best markets based on the specific sector of each client and assist them both in the initial development phase (commercial, acquisition, creation of legal entities, search for companies with which to make deals), and in the following phases (external management, taking care of relationships, search for local suppliers, processing paperwork for import authorization, etc.). At last, companies can count on a reliable and competent partner who can guide their clients from the very beginning towards the optimal choices and solutions for the success of their business in the world, thus avoiding loss of time and maximizing investments.

Photo by Elena Taranenko