22 The International

The following topic will be addressed in this post:

If there were a market for it, would you consider entering an international market for a product/service which you offered in your own enterprise? Why or why not?

International commerce. Would you engage in it? Good question. Many businesspeople dream about becoming international moguls, expanding across the deep blue seas. With current technology, international sales are just a few mouse clicks away.

On the other hand, with current technology, counterfeiting and reverse engineering are simple, too. Unfortunately, our government agencies have not been as aggressive as possible when enforcing intellectual property claims internationally. This situation is not the fault of the agency personnel per se, but for the last century our top legislative and executive leaders in both political parties have prioritized other topics at the expense of our innovators’ intellectual property. In his book The Betrayal of American Prosperity, Clyde Prestowitz masterfully discusses this process.

I will review Mr. Presowitz’s book in a subsequent post.

The upshot is absent a strong business structure backing you, and by strong I mean ample financial and legal resources, international commerce can be dicey. If you go international in developing economy countries, you really must prepare yourself for reality. That reality may include a brief existence as a business with a competitive edge based on intellectual property.

In my business, I might not be so worried. While there is some element of intellectual property to a compost “recipe,” the final product mainly depends upon the available inputs. Also, composting does not have a strong international trade because the weight makes transportation costs prohibitively expensive. The other facet of my venture is helping people begin their own businesses. Again, this process does not require exclusive intellectual property. In fact, I encourage competition in this area. The more people we have engaging in entrepreneurship the better.

Therefore, I would not fear international commerce in my venture, but I would caution others to think very carefully about their business strategies.


Prestowitz, C. (2010) The betrayal of American prosperity. Free Press: New York.

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3 Responses to 22 The International

  1. DTBA says:

    Counterfeiting and reverse engineering are certainly to be cautious about. Few months back my cousin who was looking for i-phone to buy found one great deal on e-Bay. That phone was way cheaper than what it should have been. At the last moment he backed out from buying citing it being a counterfeited product. Before commenting here I goggled about this and found what he cited infact was a truth.

  2. You hit on several key areas. The first is your comment that you better have a strong financial structure prior to going global. Often times, I’ve seen companies, including my own, become opportunistic and expand rapidly overseas only to find that the costs are too high to adequately support the business.

    Secondly, your comment on understanding and protecting intellectual property is spot on. Many businesses rush to international markets only to see their products and patents stolen and replicated. Case in point is Google. While it may make intellectual sense to do business in China, Google found that not only was their products replicated by Baidu, they were eventually relegated to the #2 position in the marketplace.

    Thanks for the insight!

  3. Good insight here guys. Also, I liked your comment on competition in the entrepreneurial arena. I love the concept of “raising all boats”, there are some incredible partnerships that can come out of this. We have seen some neat collaboration in Asheville with a local ice cream shop that partnered up wuth a local brewery to create a syrup based on one of their ales. They also use local pastry shops to create some excellent desserts that incorporate the two. now if only we could see that with something beyond culinary creations(although very important, yum!)

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