February 1999


The Basics of International Expansion - Ruby Miller-Lyman

A few months ago, Upline interviewed Ruby Miller-Lyman, a veteran of the industry since 1951. As you might expect, her organization reaches far beyond the domestic market. We spoke recently about two key ingredients-- commitment and preparation-- that were instrumental in building her business in seven countries abroad. Her advice was clear and to the point... -- Gale Fue

First of all, don't even think of expanding into a foreign market unless you have a solid organization in your home country.

Make a commitment to visit the target country a few times during the year. Ideally, someone should be there at least once a quarter-- if not you, it should be someone you can trust to build, teach and train the same way you do. If you're unfamiliar with the culture, do your homework. Read background material on the country and its culture. If it's not an English-speaking country, buy a dictionary and learn a few basic words like "please," "thank you," "hotel," "bathroom" and "restaurant. "Plan to stay long enough to learn some of the customs and incorporate them into your game plan.

Know and follow your company's rules and regulations for international expansion. Manage the details, because when things go wrong, it puts a black eye on the entire industry.

In a non-English-speaking country, the most obvious challenge is the language. You'll need interpreters, and be aware that something may get lost in the translation. If the key people you work with speak both languages, it's much easier.

You may also be challenged physically. There will be demands on you practically every minute. It's important to take good care of yourself and get plenty of rest because you'll have an extremely tight schedule. International expansion is not for the weak or faint-hearted!

If you're involved in the soft opening, or introductory period, the first few days are spent making sure the staff understands what to do, how to do it, and why. They should be taught how to answer questions about the product and the company, and how to fill out paperwork correctly.

Next, set appointments for opportunity meetings. The idea is to quickly sponsor enough people to start holding training classes where you teach them how to build their business. Everyone you sponsor should attend every meeting and every training session during this concentrated push. They cannot hear about your business too often, or see it too much.

If you use videos, be sure they're correctly formatted and that you have the proper equipment on hand to view them. Have an interpreter at all of your meetings. After you've returned home, it's your responsibility to stay in communication via fax, phone, email, regular mail or whatever works best. If you sponsor people and think someone else will train them, believe me, that's not how it works!

That's where a duplicatable process comes in. Start with a system that works in this country, then modify it to incorporate the different culture and lifestyle. Once they know the system, they'll keep doing what you've taught them, even though you're miles away.

The system should emphasize the company's stability-- that is crucial. Provide information about the owners, the people who will be managing the country, the particulars about your product or service, and a clear explanation of your compensation plan.

Be sure to teach your new distributors that if they help the people they've sponsored to become successful, their success is guaranteed. It works that way in the US, and it's the same internationally.

Most of all, have fun! Building your business worldwide is an incredible adventure, and a unique opportunity. To get in on your company's ground-floor expansion and witness the growth in a foreign market is very, very exciting. --Ruby Miller-Lyman

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Upline International - February 1999, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com


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