Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsBRUCE BILSON: Hello. Thank you so much for joining me. Every business person knows there is no substitute for customers. Customers, the lifeblood of any enterprise. Experienced business owners are going to share with us this-- there is no substitute for customer attitude and how that's been a key part of their successful SME. Customers, that an SME needs to find, present value to, delight, and hopefully attract back to your business again and again to become, not just a regular customer, but a client, if you will. And ideally, an advocate for what you and your business do. Hopefully you participated in my earlier course which examined SMEs and digital engagement. We explored how today, every business is a digital business.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 secondsAnd how digital engagement is increasingly needed to boost business success. We also learned about how customers are changing and increasingly relying on technology to inform their choices and to make their purchases. And to tell others, a potentially global audience, about their experiences. Leading SMEs shared with us how they've deployed digital engagement to power their business strategies and success. Digital technology, savvy web-connected customers, and the modern commerce increasingly has an international connection and interdependency, meaning that this is an exciting time for SMEs. These days, the dream of a startup can well include global ambitions.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 secondsCustomers and prospective customers are no longer thought of in terms of a very localised market of consumers in a defined catchment, or the audience of a newspaper ad, or in your local phone directory. Today we can connect with customers across continents, transact across platforms, trade across borders, and even for a small SME, tap an expanded opportunity to engage with a much wider audience and forge new markets. An SME with specialist know-how or a particular expertise can access a much enlarged niche market that may well span multiple economies well beyond the business' home base.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 secondsThis potentially vast increase in prospective customers may well include your SME providing another business with key inputs or the specialist capacity they need to do what they do well for their customers. This is literally a world of prospective customers. And a market where even in the recent past, you may have literally needed to be a multinational to compete. Today, it can be your SME that identifies these new markets and is actively engaging potentially millions of prospective new customers. And making successful access to these markets a key part of your SME business strategy. The potential new markets present your SME with delicious possibilities.

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 secondsAnd together through this course, we'll learn that there are no shortcuts or easy wins in successfully engaging with expanded customer opportunities. Together we'll examine the changes in customer behaviour, in economies and technology, and global commerce that are opening a world of possibilities to SMEs. We'll explore how SMEs are taking their specialist expertise and nurturing expanded customer opportunities, even in some of the most niche products and services; how leading SMEs have identified and created new markets that are accelerating their business success; and what we can learn from their experience to help us be equipped with the know-how to open new market opportunities that will be the focus of our second week.

Skip to 3 minutes and 47 secondsAnd no examination of new market opportunities could be complete without considering China. The marvels and mysteries of engaging with this extraordinary Chinese economy and very active in discerning Chinese consumers will be part of our course. As enchanting as these new markets might be, and as enticing as pursuing this vastly expanded customer opportunity will undoubtedly appear, carefully evaluating this potential and sensibly assessing how you will engage to execute in your new market expansion plans is crucial. We'll identify what other SMEs have learned. And the consideration and processes they went through. Tips that might improve prospects for new market success and where help and assistance can be found.

Skip to 4 minutes and 33 secondsTogether, through this SME course, participants will be better equipped to identify and access new markets and the millions of prospective new customers available in this modern international economy.

New markets: an overview

Technology, trade and increasing interconnectedness of the global economy have opened the door to new markets and millions of new prospective customers.

Can you think of a country where people aren’t buying things online, or goods and services are created elsewhere?

E-commerce has brought millions of people into a marketplace comprising prospective customers from all corners of the globe. Many SMEs are grasping these opportunities to produce new ways of interacting with customers and each other.

As businesses and economies recognise their areas of specialist expertise and capacity, profiting from these competitive advantages has been made possible by expanding trade and market access opportunities.

Businesses are finding out more about what other SMEs can contribute to the goods they’re producing or services they can provide. A market-leading product or service may contain components, input and know-how from many other businesses and be sourced from numerous economies, as it moved from conception to ready-for-use completion.

Technology is again playing its part as businesses dealing with other businesses explore where commercial relationships might accelerate enterprise success and in making sure prospective customers know what it is they have to offer.

Going global

The digital economy combined with improving market access means all SMEs have global potential.

International ambitions can be good for business. A recent survey undertaken by Australia Post found that small businesses with international and domestic customers:

  • had higher average turnover;
  • were significantly more likely to be selling online;
  • were twice as likely to have plans for rapid growth or intending to start a new business in the next year; and
  • were more likely to sell to businesses as well as consumers.

In terms of durable business success, there is no substitute for customers, and new markets can present millions of new prospective customers.

So what do these new market opportunities mean for your SME?

By learning from and being inspired by others and the insights and experiences successful SMEs can share, how will you be better able to determine which new markets are worth considering for inclusion in your strategy and growth plans for your SMEs?

Your task

Whether you explicitly realise it or not, you’re part of the changing economy discussed in the video. Think about your behaviour as a consumer and identify goods and services you access via the use of technology.

In the comments, share responses to one or all of the following questions as a way of teasing out your engagement in the online economy and international markets.

  • When you’ve purchased goods or services online, if the supplier is not a local business:

  • How did you find them and what technology did you use to access their goods and services?

  • What factors influenced your choice of doing business or purchasing a product from this online supplier?

  • What did the online or international supplier do to convince you to purchase from them rather than a business operating in your neighbourhood?

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This video is from the free online course:

SMEs and New Markets: Trade, the Chinese Powerhouse and Online Opportunities

Deakin University