The Dom Post reported:
Businesses considering overseas expansion will be looking for a smooth and cost-effective process that can enhance earnings potential and spread risk, he says.
One Wellington-based company that is successfully spreading its wings – into the Australian market – is business consulting firm Davanti Consulting.
Set up five years ago by the four principals – Matt Farrar, Mick Bell, Justin Hamilton and Rob Carter – Davanti now has a staff of 85 in its two New Zealand offices and, within the past year, has also opened offices in Sydney and Melbourne.
And the company is looking to expand even further afield, talking about taking its product offerings to the Asian market.
“You’ve got to be forward thinking, but the key for us is that within our New Zealand domestic market we’ve established a reputation for being good at what we do and we’ve built up a bunch of credentials that show that, giving us leverage into Australia,” says Mr Farrar.
He attributes much of Davanti’s success to date in Australia to the company’s partnership with enterprise cloud computing company Salesforce.com.
“Our business with them in New Zealand has been very successful, they needed good partners in Australia and on the back of their commitment to supporting us there we chose to head into the Australian market as well.”
Enhancing Davanti’s reputation even further is the fact that the company took out top honours at Salesforce.com‘s awards dinner this month in Sydney.
“We were announced as their partner of the year for all of Australasia, a pretty good outcome given we’ve only been operating in the Australian market for just over a year,” says Mr Farrar.
“It’s a fantastic result, and one we can leverage off – it’s exciting to win that against a whole bunch of more established Australian organisations.”
Meanwhile, the Regus survey’s analysis into perceived barriers to international expansion found that companies around the world cite access to “property” and “people” as the key obstacles.
Among Kiwi firms, 30 per cent of businesses say the biggest obstacle to overseas expansion is the challenge of setting up a physical presence in a foreign country.
And 57 per cent of companies admit property commitments have to be very short term when setting up a foreign operation, as they do not know how quickly or slowly they will grow.
Opinion is split over whether senior management for overseas operations should be from the home country (41 per cent) or a local manager (30 per cent).
“The ‘people’ issues do require careful judgment,” says Mr Willems, “and decisions about whether to install a local manager or one from the company’s home country are critical, and largely rest on whether sales are handled mainly through a few major distributors, or with direct contact among a wide range of customers”.
Such decisions will depend on the type and size of the business and the industry of operation, he says.
Mr Farrar says expansion has brought challenges for Davanti, and, as the Regus survey shows, the “people” issue has been one of them.
He agrees there’s often debate around whether to install a local manager or bring in someone.
In Davanti’s case, it has chosen a local manager for its Sydney and Melbourne operations and is in the process of finding just the right leadership.
And that is something Mr Farrar says is key to being successful across the Tasman.
But the biggest challenge of all, he says, is working out a point of difference.
“For us it’s agility. Our expertise and agility in delivering cloud solutions enables us to produce successful outcomes for both large and small clients.”
While people and property are perceived as potentially major challenges, the wide availability of flexible workspace options around the globe make the “property” element more perception than reality, says Mr Willems.
Technology in particular has been a key enabler in helping firms overcome the difficulties of setting up a fixed office space, he says.
“And the virtual office has provided a platform for firms of all sizes to access global markets of scale but at a fraction of the cost.”
Matt and his three partners set up Davanti just five years ago, and it was basically just the four of them at the beginning. To have built that up to a firm of 85 staff is a huge achievement. The expansion to Australia is an opportunity to grow even faster.
Curia, which I own, is just eight years old and employs a fair few staff also, so between us the Farrars are doing our bit for job growth!