The objective of this report is to develop strategies for small Queensland firms to adopt in seeking to enter, and maintain a successful presence in, foreign markets. The study adopts a "self-help" approach, and provides a series of forty seven specific strategies that could be adopted which would place the manager in a strong position to successfully internationalize his/her small Queensland firm.
The methodology of the study involves a combination of literature review and case study analysis. International research concerning small firms and business strategy is interpreted, empirical and theoretical research into internationalization is reviewed, and ten small Queensland firms are evaluated as case studies.
Small firms are a major source of economic growth and employment and can exhibit more entrepreneurial behaviour than larger more-structured organizations. Internationalization is an option for the small firm, generally involving a focus on specific foreign market niches. However, the firm's ability to internationalize is affected by a number of factors, including several disadvantages associated with small size.
The case study firms generally confirm the findings of the international research, although even those which export display internal characteristics more applicable to non-exporters; lack of a truly international perspective, low regard for continual product innovation, and lack of attention to business planning and the rational assessment of foreign market opportunities. However, workforce difficulties were major issues for the firms, a factor not often raised in the literature.
Strategic implications for small Queensland firms are discussed in seven areas, with related recommendations for managers; business strategy, international perspective, innovation, workforce, finance, foreign market information and international marketing capability. Nevertheless, the attitudes and capability of the manager is the primary determinant of successful internationalization. It is considered that, through pursuing the strategies recommended in the report, the manager with the necessary personal commitment and proven domestic business management capability would be in a strong position to enter and maintain a successful presence in foreign markets.