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Hardeep Girn goes to Hollywood (Business Chamber). Hardeep Girn goes to Hollywood (Business Chamber). Featured
31 January 2016 Posted by 

HARDEEP GOES TO HOLLYWOOD

Observations from my global road trip

By Hardeep Girn

I’VE been fortunate in life to have being born in the UK, raised in an Indian family and lived in the US and Australia. With this background I’ve been open to new cultures and change.

Over the last 15 years, my family and I have called Sydney home. Without hesitation I would say it’s the best city in the world for all the important aspects of everyday life. However developing and growing a business reaching into the US and UK markets has always been a desire of mine.

Following the success of Know My Business and the launch of Know My Life in the Australian market in 2015, I decided the time was right to venture overseas with the following aims:

1.    Expose the brands.
2.    Explain the operating model.
3.    Identify the competition.
4.    Gauge the interest in working with us.

Phone conversations with businesses and with networking groups including chambers were not enough to warrant investment remotely from Australia. Instead I saw the need to talk to prospects and networking groups face to face.

So in early January 2016, I spent three weeks on a road trip to nine cities across the 4 US states of New Jersey, New York, Texas and California with a final stop in London, England.

Going into this road trip, some in my Australian business circle warned against venturing into overseas markets during a quiet time in the year. Certainly the expectation was it would be a waste of time and effort.

However being aware that those working in US businesses take much less time off as Australians in December/January and the high number of businesses in the UK operating throughout the year, I instead saw opportunity.

The road trip was a fantastic firsthand experience in many ways.

I found there are significant differences in business protocol even within the US. As a general observation on the short visit, I found people on the West Coast prefer to have coffee to build trust, whilst in New York that won’t until they know it’s worth their while!

Whilst Texans immediately laid out their famous “Southern Hospitality” in my 2-day visit there and made conversation very easy. It taught me there are very strong regional variations in the sequence of business engagement within US business – more than I realised.

Texas has historically had a thriving oil industry. Though now there is an evolution occurring due to the slower oil demand from domestic and Chinese markets. The Texans saw it coming some time ago and today there are significant new hot spots of companies in startup activity in Austin and Fort Worth.  

Taking Know My Business into the US and UK was the primary focus, however Know My Life being a newer entertainment company, joined the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce ahead of my visit.

My rationale? With Know My Life being an entertainment company and being a door opener to large-scale businesses for our Know My Business clients, why not take it to the entertainment capital of the world?

The strategy worked well, and during my visit, I discussed some fledging projects with a few well-connected business people including Leron Gubler, the CEO for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Leron has personally MC-ed the past 20 years of Hollywood Walk of Fame inductees. Installing stars on the Hollywood “The Walk of Fame” footpath was an initiative of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce started in 1959. It recently honoured the 2572nd star for David Duchovny, of X-Files fame.

Last stop of the road trip was London. The sheer amount of investment that has gone into and continues to pour into London is staggering. 2015 was a record year with GBP70 Billion (AU$141 Billion) with 50% coming from foreign investment (Source: http://www.propertywire.com/news/europe/uk-commercial-property-investment-2015102211120.html).

The 1970s, 80s and 90s saw underinvestment that has now rebounded since the 2012 London Olympics. In many ways it reminded me of what’s happening today in Western Sydney. However the complexities of any commercial developments are far greater in London due to the high density of buildings and people.

The US and UK road trip has opened many opportunities to consider. Not every initiative will materialise, however our planning will be much more targeted in how we invest in these markets to launch new products and services.

My advice to any business looking to venture into new markets is to take a time based approached and hear how the market responds to your product or service.

Without taking this opportunity, any investment is very speculative. New cultures and markets are challenging, so take advice. But as the adage goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I would add, “nothing assumed” to that!

So whilst China was the popular emerging market in 2015 for many businesses with an exportable product, other mature markets have many opportunities. 

Even for those companies not looking to export or provide services, the visit overseas opened the door to discussions with Australian based businesses to deliver work for foreign companies without even stepping onto a plane.
 
Hardeep Girn is managing director of Know My Business and Know My Life. Visit www.kmowmybusinss.com.au
and www.knowmylife.com.au

 



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