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Isolation no longer a barrier

Is this the golden age for local companies to go global? The landscape of Western Australian business is altered forever. We are less isolated and more open to global threats and opportunities.

Even small businesses are being directly affected. Bookstores, sports stores, printers, consultants and professionals are just some of the products and services all now competing on the world stage.

I can log onto the Internet and order my coffee from dozens of places around the globe that will deliver it to my door with exotic instructions and a free coffee cup.

I can hire programmers, models, buy CDs, have my horoscope read or get advice on how to lose weight.

We live in a global village that is getting smaller by the minute. This is not news, I am sure you have heard it all many times before.

The question is what are you doing about it? What do you know about your competitors in South America? Are they planning to steal your customers?

The Internet and other technological tools that shrink the world are not going away. You have to realise that all of our businesses will be affected. We all have to change.

So if you accept that you need to face the inevitable and think and act global, what do you need to be doing now?

Knowledge is the key. Not all business will be affected in the same way or in the same time frame. Therefore it is imperative that you take the time to find out how your business is likely to be affected.

Western Australia is well served by its technology companies and the local education system. You can access good advice and skills from local companies – services other countries pay considerably more for.

Some companies are starting to realise that they can build internationally competitive businesses using local skills and services – that it is not only possible to compete, it is possible to win.

Another factor that has accelerated companies in the last few months has been the shift in the local investment community, in particular the stock market.

Many new and exciting projects and companies are raising capital to build globally focused businesses.

These new companies are building businesses that look very different to their international predecessors.

In the past, companies that wished to export their products and services required years and often hundreds of employees. Breaking into overseas markets was expensive and risky, with distribution difficulties, expensive research and many other challenges.

Companies are now exporting products and services by exploiting their intellectual property, reducing cost of distribution and support by employing the Internet and other communication technologies.

These companies are using the Internet to find and establish partners and other relationships that are accelerating market penetration and reducing risk.

Not only are these new enterprises different in the way they reach the world, they are also creating new products and services. In fact, some of the technologies the world is employing to grow smaller are coming from Western Australia.

European companies are employing local companies to build online businesses to help them break into markets in the United States. International investors are buying companies and forming partnerships to create online businesses in the Asia Pacific region.

If Western Australia is to have its share of the international business pie we need to address a number of business fundamentals that currently work against us.

Capital Gains Tax is impeding investment. This is not only slowing down overseas investment but is also encouraging many companies overseas.

Worldwide shortages of personnel currently work in our favour but this is fast being eroded as more companies attract our talent away with exciting challenges and attractive salary packages.

Many of our competitor countries have fostered an effective culture of risk and development where entrepreneurs are encouraged to learn from their mistakes – where getting it wrong once is seen as an asset, not a pointer to the future.

I am very confident that we are now at a stage where the considerable talents, positive attitudes and vision of young Western Australians can combine successfully with established business expertise from our traditional business sectors.

This combined force should give Western Australia a better than even chance of establishing a number of long term viable businesses that not only hold their own on the global stage but set the standard.

It is up to all of us to take up the challenge. We all need to look hard at our businesses, our staff and ourselves to know what value we have, what we know and what we don’t, and then act.

It is up to you.

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