Think global and act local to succeed in business

Think global and act local to succeed in business

Modern advances in technology, transport, banking and communication have ‘shrunk’ the world — ultimately linking everyone.

No progressive business or organisation in the world, can sit back in their own isolation and refuse to be part of the ‘global village’.

Whether you are a global giant supply chain organisation or a small local business owner producing something locally, you stand a fair chance to play your game in global market and serve a global customer base. But, there is a catch. There is no one size that fits all.

If you are eyeing the global arena, the first thing that needs your attention is to understand the local market.

What works in China cannot work in Kenya in the same way, or what works for a cosmopolitan consumer in Kenya may not work for a consumer in the Kenyan rural setting.

Say you walk into any fast food restaurant chain like a KFC outlet across the world, and you are sure to find your favourite succulent chicken with a familiar taste, just the same as anywhere else in the world. But you would find at least a few choices with local flavours that suit the local taste palettes.

Imagine what would happen to these outlets if they did not consider the local preferences. They might still do good business, but they can never be successful enough.

Flexible solution

The most important thing for businesses to consider to be successful is to think global, but act local. Consider this, global warming is one of the biggest challenges faced by the entire world.

Is there one single solution that would work across the entire globe, the same way? Probably, No! Every country, every region and in fact every city/town comes up with their own solutions that work the best for them.

In fact such regions are in a better position to offer a far more responsive and flexible solution. The knowledge of the local conditions and local challenges is the most important factor in the design of products and services.

Now, the sum effect of such local actions and solutions will address the global challenges.

So what is the key to be able to Think globally and act locally? Putting the customer at the centre of your ideas, processes and products and services is the secret mantra.

At the end of it, businesses don’t build products and services for their own self, they build it for their consumers. Hence it is imperative that business understand the local context.

You can’t be designing a product/service sitting in the US or the UK and expect it to work in Kenya, unless you have your feet on ground. Large multinational companies have used this strategy extensively while penetrating new terrains and have reaped its benefits.

At the same time, what works for large multi national companies cannot and will not work the same way for small businesses.

Small businesses are the backbone of any local economy. In most countries their contribution to the gross domestic product is much more than all the large organisations’ put together, they provide the maximum percentage of stable jobs in the economy, bring cultural and economy stability.

In short, they are the lifeline of any nation. Walk into any kiosk in your locality and you will be surprised by the knowledge and command the small business owner has about the locality and his customers.

Small businesses are able to thrive well in the economy because of this unique strength which most global companies cannot afford to have unless they invest well into it.

Social-cultural dimensions

While large organisations have the money and the muscle power, they may not have the right local knowledge.

This is where the power of the small businesses locally come into play. When the strengths of the large giants are supported by the strengths of the local and regional players the impact is multifold. Another interesting concept that would help you expand your business horizons is that of “glocalisation.”

Glocalisation is the fusion of the concepts of globalisation and localisation. Globalisation, a process by which people of the world are unified into a single society, a combination of economic, technological, socio-cultural and political forces.

Localisation is the process of adapting a product or a service to suit the needs and demands of a particular region, be it language, social, cultural or political preferences.

So whether you are a giant or a small business consider investing into building a relationship with a global/local partner as appropriate. Adopt a global outlook and strategies but localise them.

If your product/service has to succeed in a new or an emerging market, add elements of variation, innovation and differentiation. Localisation can be from the perspective of local habits, adaptation, law of the land, socio-cultural dimensions.

On the other hand, if you are operating in a restricted market and are looking at going global, consider getting answers to these questions - What are the needs of the market, how can your product fit into the new market, how big is the market, Who is the competition, what are the consumer decisions based on and what are the pricing structures in the markets, who could be your potential partner?

The global market has truly shrunk the world so much so that even companies with big brands need to tailor for specific markets. So shop local, eat local, spend local and enjoy local but have a global outlook.

Sri Bharatam is the founder and chief mentor of Kuza Biashara, a capacity building organisation,

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