Micro-multinationals are startups and small companies that do business globally right from the start.
Traditionally a company got off the ground locally, then expanded nationally. When it got really big, it went global.
You may have heard the SAP commercial where a businesswoman says, “we’re definitely going global … just as soon as we go national.” In the past that pretty much summed up how small businesses and mid-sized businesses grew.
But things are changing. The newer trend is for companies to be international from the beginning, without having to wait to grow up. They’re the ones that have been dubbed the “micro-multinationals.”
Marton Dunai writes an article in the Contra Costa Times about this trend:
Once, only giant firms roamed the global marketplace. The world of export, import, shipping and customs came with high costs. It wasn’t for the novice entrepreneur.
Then came the Internet, nose-diving communication costs and the collapse of rigid international barriers. China and India gradually joined the global marketplace. That allowed companies to go beyond manufacturing and selling overseas: They outsourced everything from customer support to bookkeeping.
Midsized companies soon began to take advantage of those services. They thrived, too.
Now, global communication is a breeze and very affordable. Offshoring and outsourcing anything is a widely available service. Traveling and shipping are easier than ever.
All that has entrepreneurs cooking up new business plans that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Newborn businesses are going global and often beat the big boys at their own game.
I’ve most often seen this trend applying to technology and information businesses.
It’s easier to be a global business (1) when you don’t have to worry about physically moving lots of stuff across borders, and (2) where the location of your workers and workplace is not as critical as it is for a goods-based businesses.
However, even other kinds of businesses are starting to see the global trend, fueled by technology, easy email communications, English becoming the lingua-franca of business, and the opening of global marketplaces.
Look, for instance, at the antiques business. Many antiques dealers are now global. You can routinely buy antiques and collectibles on eBay from dealers who consider it just an ordinary day when they make a sale to someone in another country.
And it’s not just the high-end dealers, who’ve always catered to an international clientele. Today it’s not uncommon to buy a $75 item on eBay and have it shipped internationally, especially if it’s a small item that can be packed and shipped easily and cheaply. But even large items like furniture are routinely shipped internationally. Just check out all the auctions and eBay stores featuring Chinese “antique furniture” where they ship it by the container load to the U.S.
The Contra Costa Times article makes this very point, talking about how this trend of startups doing business globally is going beyond technology and information businesses, to other kinds of businesses.
Read: It’s a small (business) world.
And for more about micromultinationals, read also:
And check out Laurel Delaney’s blog and newsletter, where she writes tips and tactics for small businesses to go global: