A small consulting company planning to take its business abroad can logically choose to address itself to the small companies in a foreign market.

Those small companies however besides their home language they do not usually speak another language, it is not uncommon to be inward looking and as such, issues of trust and support service feature big in their minds. When it comes to the need for consultancy and especially one from abroad, they are very much concerned about:

(a) Language – how will the consultants communicate with the management and people in the client firm?

(b) Trust – the foreign country of origin of the consultants is sometimes misconceived to a varying degree as a potential to evade contact and obligations.

(c) Support service – In case it is needed further or frequent help from the consultants how could they support the client from offices in another country?

Are these obstacles real? And how can they effectively be overcome?

My answer is that these concerns are legitimate but at the same time it should be stressed that they are not insurmountable:

Trust: It is a small world. Internet, social media made it so. Client reviews, shared experiences in the social media and generally comments on the web influence and define the level of trust for a firm without distinction as to its physical place of origin.

Support service: Internet again has made international communication as easy as the home one; we communicate with email, call a conference on skype and we travel with great ease crossing country boundaries most often with not the slightest problem.

Language: English is spoken widely as the language of business. Furthermore alliances in one form or another are unifying the world and promote understanding and communication across nations. And any possibly remaining language differences can be bridged by home agents or representatives.

But why the devil’s advocate may argue, overcome problems if these could be avoided in the first place? if there are problems associated with consulting outside home why don’t we forget about it and abandon the idea as impractical.

Simply because the world is becoming one business place. Globalization has been ushered in and nurtured by forces like the internet and cannot go away. Besides there are also some attractions to consultancy firms from abroad. Among them:

(a) They widen clients’ choices and

(b) They offer customers a differentiated product in terms of quality, price and design perspective, a perspective that enriches the product and has its bases on the consultants’ different country, education, society and experience.

My conclusion is that a foreign consultancy firm, even when small, has a very useful role to play in the international markets and for this it should strive to overcome any historical or traditional barriers in order to be a player in the internationalization arena.

Panikos Sardos