Can I monitor overseas growth?

I run a technology business based in Manchester. I’m looking to expand the business overseas, beginning in the United States. However, I’m uncertain how to monitor such an operation, particularly in ensuring a coherent strategy with a diverse workforce based many miles apart. Are there any particular monitoring mechanisms I can employ?

A. Algy Williams of Babel Media says:

The most important thing to do is to appoint a trusted manager from your UK company to oversee the set up and running of the operation for the fi rst year or so.

Choose someone whom you trust, who has worked in the business for a considerable period and knows your company inside out. There isn’t a monitoring mechanism known to man that will beat a direct channel of communication between you and a trusted senior manager with whom you have a good rapport.

This manager should imbue the new operation with your company’s culture. If you already treat your staff well and motivate them accordingly, you’d be surprised how often this is an alien experience for new employees in different settings.

This process will also help integrate the new operation into the group and give your business a cohesiveness that is essential for successful growth. Once you’ve appointed this manager, you should immediately start the search for his or her successor. Put bluntly, you need a local to head up your operation.

In America, especially, you’ll fi nd the bleached skeletons of many a successful UK company that failed to understand that Americans like to deal with Americans, that the sales process is wildly different and that the British management style does not always translate to other cultures.

Make sure you organise an incentive structure for the new management team that puts the emphasis on group as well as subsidiary success.

Centralise your financial function as far as possible. Your finance director has to be tasked with effective financial reporting. While tasks such as invoicing probably have to emanate from the US company, it can always be issued from the UK parent, especially at the start of the operation.

Once everything is established, then of course migrate this function to the new operation to an extent. But the fi nance director has to take full responsibility for accurate reporting. Remember to involve your IT director at the planning stage. Shared systems provide you with ample opportunities for monitoring progress.

 Lastly, apply for frequent flyer status. You’ll need it.


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