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Blog 19.05.2023

How to turn small steps into giant leaps: 3 ways to scale your export strategy

What is your organization's value proposition to foreign customers and partners? Is it alive and kicking? I'd strongly suggest you to ponder what is your current organization long-term research and business strategy and what you want to achieve.
Pekka Rantala

Head of 6G Bridge program
Business Finland



1. Small well-thought concrete steps lead to giant leaps

The first step is to define your organization's value proposition to foreign customers and partners. It is hard to think outside the box and to step into the shoes of your potential customer.

Compress the key points into a one-pager or five PowerPoint slides. Memorize and rehearse your 1-minute elevator pitch by heart – and always well in advance.

An essential part of the long-term strategy is to shortlist the best possible 'dream partner team' to support business execution. They are typically research organizations and companies that have strongholds in specific locations such as Seoul, Washington, California or Tokio.

2. Emphasize the quality of partners over quantity

But how to engage the shortlisted ones especially during current post-corona and hybrid work times? It might seem to be a Rubik's Cube – but actually it is not. It is more of well-thought planning and execution and less of daydreaming.

One very practical and concrete way of engaging other organizations, people and advocates is to participate in Team Finland (TF) delegation visits or Business Finland trade missions abroad. I personally participated in my first TF visit to the Republic of Korea in January 2023. That deep tech focused visit was led by Mr. Timo Harakka, Minister of Transport and Communications. The participants were representing Finnish flagship solutions and technologies in beyond 5G/6G collaboration, quantum computing and new space economy.

I personally represented Business Finland's 5G Advanced and 6G related activities. It was a surprise to me how smoothly high-level meetings, pitching sessions and round-table discussions were possible at Samsung, ETRI (Korea's version of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland) and LIG Nex1 (Korea's version of the Finnish company Patria). This smoothness was actually made possible by the impressive work of my Business Finland colleagues together with our TF-partners months ahead.

I'm not going to lie but it is utmost important to meet key people in-person. And to give your printed business cards and to receive ones! It was a surprise to me that printed business cards are so important. The C-level of the Korean companies, founders or owners are quite seldom for example in LinkedIn.

3. Customize your story

Let's get back to the value proposition. Every startup company knows that their next pitching could be the question whether the company is funded next month. That's why you need your earth-chattering pitch during those partnership discussions, brokerage meetings and trade deal negotiations. Please customize your narrative to that specific situation or customer. In most cases you have only one shot to charm your dream customers or partner.

Always plant your seed of respect and trust in the first 10-20 seconds of your presentation. Trust and respect represent different aspects of the same matter. For example, Roger Mayer, psychologist and professor of leadership, identifies three pillars of trust in business and everyday life: benevolence, integrity and competence.

  1. Benevolence: how people look out for one another.
  2. Integrity: whether people do the right thing, even when it might be tempting not to.
  3. Competence: whether people can do what they are meant to do.

The first two of these are linked to your business moral. Of course you can't prove it immediately but you should therefore focus on highlighting your and your organization's values and beliefs. The competence is much easier to attest. But to be able to do something does not lead anywhere unless the key people and organization share the same values and principles. People will be more motivated to do their best when respect is mutual.

In conclusion. The high-level Team Finland visits or Business Finland trade missions can significantly contribute to your company's internationalization in multiple ways. Business Finland, together with our Team Finland partners, can do only our part.

Let’s focus first on you and your ambitions and intentions.

Let's define the future – together!

Read more about the 6G Bridge program

Further information

Team Finland visits

Forbes: How To Rebuild Trust When You Lost It – 3 Crucial Things To Know

Photo: Pekka Rantala