With over 30 years of experience in international business development, Franz Kolb, a highly distinguished WTA of Utah board member, has helped companies reach international audiences and assisted their exporting and importing efforts. With his background of growing up in Austria and completing an international business apprenticeship, working with businesses and diplomats is his second nature. Today, Kolb utilizes his well versed international business experience as Director of International Trade and Diplomacy for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
As a diplomat, Kolb understands the importance of networking in order for companies to reach global audiences. He expanded his own connections by working for the government in international business consulting and management. By building this foundation, Kolb established a robust network, eventually leading one of Utah’s governors to ask for his assistance in improving Utah’s international image. As a result, Kolb has successfully connected Utah with other diplomats, organized trade missions, and arranged meetings with key business leaders and trade delegations from all over the world.
According to Kolb, for businesses that desire to expand internationally, “They should do an internal analysis to see if everybody is committed to this international venture. [Then], put together a plan of how they would tackle that because it can be very complex, and the world is huge. They need to focus on some of the key areas in the world, based on certain parameters that they should develop. [Then], they need to have a...medium and long term strategy...in order for them to be successful.”
In addition to conducting this analysis and developing strategies, Kolb stresses the importance of pre-existing connections, especially on a global scale. He states that “When it comes to business and connections, in order for a company to be successful internationally, they need to develop a formal and informal international network. Meaning...if you want to do business in a certain country, [you] can’t cold-call somebody...it doesn’t work well in some countries. But if you have an introduction from somebody who has a network or knows somebody over there, and they then introduce you to their network, it is much easier to be successful. So, it’s crucial for individuals [and] companies to develop international connections and to maintain those. That’s when their network becomes very important.”
Moreover, understanding cultural barriers and differences within relationships are key factors for companies to be successful internationally. According to Kolb, “40% of international businesses fail because of a lack of cultural understanding. Everytime you meet somebody from another country, whether it’s a diplomat or a business person, they have their own cultural identity...and this requires people to be very well prepared because it's not just about traveling and meeting people. It’s [needed] to maintain a good relationship and contact. It takes an open minded person on one side to be successful internationally.”
In order for domestic companies to successfully reach international audiences and markets, they must initially build substantial relationships both internally and externally. Subsequently, unified companies, with a strategic game plan that are able to build its international network while maintaining cultural sensitivity, are following Franz’s formula for international success. To read about and meet more inspiring business leaders, please visit our blog and become a member. Event updates are posted on our LinkedIn and Twitter.