President Obama's historic visit to Puerto Rico next week will partly focus on how to generate economic growth in the small, four million person island that is so close to the mainland US market, yet so far from economic prosperity. The only way for Puerto Rico, and other smaller countries, to create sustained prosperity and sustainable growth is to generate a large number of export-driven enterprises. And to accomplish that, and to realize the ambitions of the upcoming generations of entrepreneurs, it is absolutely essential to get your ventures ready for global markets a lot sooner than you might think. In fact, it's best to start with a global entrepreneurship "DNA" from the very conception. Here are a few reasons why:
Being born global is not easy: you need to reach beyond your grasp, be fluent in more than one language, be open to other cultures, travel extensively, and hire globally-minded people, often with very different cultural backgrounds. If your management team all has the same passport, you may not be ready for the major league. But by embedding a "global DNA" early on, even if you decide to take new markets one step at a time, you will find the transition from local to global a much less painful one.
For you government leaders, consider the policy implications. Economic policy for exporting can have a major impact, ranging from keeping currency from being overvalued, to providing training and support to new exporters. From a policy perspective, it is critical for public leaders to place exports as a high priority. It is nearly impossible to be competitive as a nation by having an economy based on domestic business.
Only ten years ago venture capitalists were local local local. They adopted the "stone's throw" strategy, only investing in companies around the corner, and pushing their portfolio companies to focus on local customers and markets:. For a Boston VC, selling in Texas or California was like exporting. But the times they are a-changing, and now going global early is not a luxury, but a necessity. And it is no coincidence that the top tier VCs are investing in Eastern Europe, China, India, and Brazil, many for the first time.
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