In The Media

10 Things to Consider When Building a Global Practice

The impacts of globalization mean architecture firms of all sizes can now reach around the world quickly and affordably. We find ourselves measuring geographical distances in time, not miles or kilometers.

Doug Wignall writes that while global expansion can contribute significant growth to an architecture practice, it requires a completely different mindset and a whole new set of rules than the one needed to do business on your home turf.

  1. Global expansion doesn’t happen overnight. Success is measured one client at a time. It is all about building relationships and establishing trust.
  2. Be strategic about the countries in which you choose to work. Your strategy will be dictated by whether your interests are short-term or long-term.
  3. Demand for excellence and expertise is paramount. Design firms can capitalize on their expertise and brand as leaders in a specific building type. In other words, go to where a need exists and where you can deliver true value.
  4. Think global, be local. It’s essential to have a local presence in the communities in which you are working. Clients want to know that you’re invested in their economy.
  5. Consider natural versus organic growth. Acquiring a local firm might be expeditious, but it’s also fraught with challenges. Merging two firms from different cultures adds even more layers of complexity.
  6. Context is everything. Expansion strategies must be based on the diversity of a country’s people, geography, the heritage of its culture, and its business environment.
  7. Give employees the training and tools they need to be successful. A respect for cultural differences must be at the heart of global business practices.
  8. How you market makes a difference. Companies must conduct basic research regarding the use of concept, design, shape, color, packaging, message and name in the countries in which they are doing business. Non-verbal communication also requires special attention.
  9. Create a framework for expansion. You need one person “minding the store” for each area of responsibility, and building the relationships needed for long-term success.
  10. It’s imperative to be financially stable before looking to new frontiers. Don’t try to grow globally at the expense of your domestic practice.

Read the full article to learn more about our experiences with these 10 lessons in our journey to build a sustainable global practice.