How are some architecture, engineering, & construction (A/E/C) firms able to move into foreign markets? The firms that are successful in pursuing international grants have developed a strategy.
Their international strategy includes:
Analyzing how funds are broken down for type of project, size of project, and project finance terms
Determining which consultants have been selected in the past and why
Finding out who the developers and other financial partners were, if applicable;
Establishing what preliminary studies have been done, as well as what studies are in the pipeline.
These strategies can be broken down into seven stages:
Stage One: Access the firm’s capabilities and its purpose for pursuing international opportunities. Evaluate the resources and capabilities of the firm as well as the needs and corporate growth strategy to develop an international market entry strategy.
Stage Two: Gather market intelligence and project sources. United States firms have found that publicly funded or publicly guaranteed international projects provide better assurance of being paid on time in accordance with the signed contract. Use these resources to track opportunities and gather information on country intelligence.
Stage Three: Nurture relationships with international public/private officials who are visiting the United States. Delegations from foreign countries frequently visit the United States to study U.S. facilities and receive training. Hosting these delegations is often a cost-effective way for firms to develop key international relationships.
Stage Four: Identify project opportunities and gauge project viability. International project opportunities can be tracked through different trade and multilateral agencies. Often pre-feasibility and feasibility studies are available that assess the economic, financial, and technical viability of potential projects in the international arena.
Stage Five: Acquire in-country business guidance. The U.S. Commercial Services department and the U.S. Agency for International Development are two excellent sources for overseas contacts and market intelligence.
Stage Six: Nurture relationships with international public officials overseas. As a firm targets a country, it becomes more appropriate to visit the country and develop relationships with overseas public and private sector officials.
Stage Seven: Influence project outcomes. U.S. firms face stiff competition from the Japanese and the Europeans when procuring projects overseas. Project follow-up through direct contacts or foreign ambassadors shows a firm’s interest and commitment to the project outcome.
The international market offers a new frontier for U.S. firms, and with planned and developed strategies, and even strategic alliances, the risks can be very rewarding and profitable.
For more information, check out Strategic Alliances for Small Firms: A Path to Profitability, a complimentary e-book packed with essential information on what it takes to have a successful alliance in today's economy, directly from PSMJ’s business development experts.
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