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Abstract and Figures

This report is the second emanating from the five year partnership between Women in Global Business (WIGB) and the University of Melbourne to annually survey Australia’s international businesswomen. It fills a critical gap in data about Australian businesswomen engaging in international business and expands our understanding of their successes, challenges and motivations. It provides unique insights and captures the views and opinions of these entrepreneurial women with global ambitions. We look at their significant but under recognised contribution to Australia’s economic growth and job creation. These women remain very optimistic about future growth. Our survey of 416 women, reveals a dynamic community of entrepreneurs and senior decision‐makers guiding organisations into markets around the world.
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A joint Australian, State and Territory Government initiative
Women,
global trade and
what it takes to succeed
2015
2
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Inspiring Australian women to international success
The second annual survey of Australia’s international businesswomen
conducted by
Women in Global Business in conjunction with
André Sammartino & Sarah Gundlach at the University of Melbourne
3
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Table of Contents
Preface 4
Acknowledgements 5
Message from The Minister for Trade and Investment 6
Foreword 7
Executive Summary 8
1. Introduction 12
2. The Women Driving Internationalisation 13
3. A Snapshot of Australia’s Women Owner Operators 14
4. A Snapshot of Australia’s Women Employed in Strategic Roles 24
5. Heading International 29
6. Scope of International Expansion 35
7. International Expansion Success 38
8. Barriers to International Growth 43
9. Funding Challenges 46
10. Life as an International Businesswoman 49
11. Support for Australia’s International Businesswomen 53
Next Steps 54
Notes 55
References 56
Women in Global Business 57
4
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
When WIGB launched four
years ago, it was the realisation
of a vision of several senior
women executives from Australia’s
trade promotion organisations
including Austrade and State and
Terrirory government trade and
investment agencies.
These insightful women recognised the warning
indicators from scant data, that women led SME
businesses in Australia were not achieving their export
potential when measured against the general SME
population. The formation of WIGB was designed to
establish a government program to address the barriers
that were acting to deter women led businesses from
becoming global market leaders.
The multiple programs that WIGB established early
on to break down these barriers, came about from
research that mostly originated off‐shore. Predominantly
emanating from the USA, this data was balanced by a
good dose of local intuition and Australian common
sense. What was missing was the Australian data as
a foundation underpinning the rationale for, and
effectiveness of, WIGB services. This longitudinal study,
the first of its kind in Australia, seeks to do just that.
In this second report of the five year study, we are able
for the first time to compare results from one year to the
next. This has led to some surprising findings including
the dominance of baby boomer women as breakthrough
international businesswomen; the noticeable eagerness
for more international expansion and the clear rise
of China specifically and Asia generally as significant
markets for women led SMEs.
On the downside this second report reveals that barriers
are becoming more, not less challenging for women. This
is despite 63% of women, who indicated they wanted
to expand their business into more countries in the
Preface
first report, achieving this goal by the second. Our report
confirms the trend internationally, that the major hindrance
for women led businesses to expand internationally is the
lack of access to finance and capital. This second report drills
down to investigate why.
Working together with our stakeholders, corporate partners,
members and allies, WIGB will continue to advance programs
to support women to break through these barriers and scale
up their businesses to reach their full potential as global
companies.
Cynthia Balogh
National Program Manager
Women in Global Business
5
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Our sincere thanks and appreciation
goes first and foremost to our
University of Melbourne partners,
Dr André Sammartino, Senior
Lecturer in Strategy and
International Business,
University of Melbourne
and Ms Sarah Gundlach,
University of Melbourne.
The collaboration between WIGB and
the University of Melbourne on this
five year longitudinal study has been
enormously productive. The findings have
revealed surprises for both parties along
the way and reinforced some expectations.
Of enormous satisfaction to the project
team is the fact that this work is shining the
light, for the first time, on how one crucial
part of Australia’s economy operates. As such
the contribution to our body of knowledge and
understanding cannot be underestimated.
Our heartfelt thanks also go to the hundreds of
Australian businesswomen who took time out of their
busy schedules to contribute their responses, thoughts
and feedback on the second survey. By definition
WIGB’s target audience are businesswomen who are
already exceptional multi-taskers with busy business
and private lives and demanding domestic and global
travel schedules. The fact that they took the time out
to complete the survey responses is an indication of
how important they consider this topic. We sincerely
value and appreciate their contributions to this study.
There is another group of businesswomen in Melbourne
and Sydney who we must recognise and extend special
additional thanks. These were the WIGB Members
who agreed to participate in the focus groups. They
gave very generously of their time. Their unique insights
provided real substance and background to many of the
findings and can be read in this report.
My gratitude also goes out to WIGB’s Advisory
Committee members and State and Territory government
stakeholders. Without their support for WIGB’s mission
and operational support, this project could not be
realised. To our sponsors and allies who helped promote
the survey to their respective memberships, we truly value
the partnership and your support. To Austrade staff who
supported WIGB in the promotion of the survey our sincere
thanks. Our thanks also go to the multiple interns who
supported WIGB during all the stages of this project. Finally
thanks to the production team at Bouquet Creative for their
innovative and creative ideas.
Cynthia Balogh
National Program Manager
Acknowledgements
6
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
As Minister for Trade and
Investment I’m always impressed,
but never surprised by the
entrepreneurial spirit of
Australian businesspeople
exploring avenues for
growth in overseas
markets.
This report – the second released by
Women in Global Business and the
University of Melbourne – builds on
our understanding of the motivations,
challenges and successes of Australia’s
businesswomen, as they engage in
international trade.
Based on the responses to this second
survey, the Free Trade Agreements I recently
concluded with Japan, Korea and China,
certainly have the potential to significantly
impact upon the future success of women
involved in exporting, with Asia identified by
respondents as an increasingly important region
for doing business.
In fact, the report found that in terms of first expansion,
China in particular is fast becoming a popular destination
for businesswomen seeking a location to establish their
first global trading point.
Not surprisingly the report made clear that Australian
businesswomen are seasoned exporters with a thirst
for further expansion, with 74 per cent indicating
their intentions to expand into even more markets; an
ambition backed by the Abbott Government’s aggressive
trade and investment agenda, which is aimed at
facilitating export growth for all Australian businesses.
The insights in this report will assist the government as it
continues to support those seeking to either establish or
expand their international business footprint; initiatives
such as the government’s Export Finance Insurance
Corporation (EFIC) and the Export Market Development
Grant (EMDG) programme, are aimed at helping find
solutions to financial hurdles, which I note, is a key issue
raised by survey participants, and by exporters in general.
Understanding what drives Australia’s businesswomen to
engage in international trading is critical to the mission of
Women in Global Business and I commend this report as
a valuable addition to our understanding of this important
sector.
The Hon Andrew Robb AO MP
Minister for Trade and Investment
Message from
The Minister for Trade and Investment
7
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Women are playing an increasingly
significant role in business and the
global economy. Women currently
control over $21 trillion of wealth
and their success in any number of
fields means their contribution
to our financial systems is
steadily growing.
That is why ANZ is delighted to partner with
organisations like ‘Women in Global Business’
who play such a vital role in providing women
with networks, support and opportunities to
help build their businesses internationally.
As a global business operating in 33 markets
across the region ANZ understands that
we need to do more to support women’s
access to capital and finance to manage their
businesses and grow their personal wealth and
we are actively working on a range of initiatives
we believe will have an impact in this area.
This latest research report provides unique insights
into the aspirations of women to expand their
businesses internationally and of the success factors and
barriers which are evident today.
As you read the report I am sure you will gain a greater
appreciation for the significant contribution women
are making to the region’s economy and their positive
aspirations for future growth.
Joyce Phillips
CEO Global Wealth
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
Foreword
8
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
This report is the second
emanating from the five year
partnership between Women
in Global Business (WIGB) and the
University of Melbourne to annually
survey Australia’s international
businesswomen.
It fills a critical gap in data about Australian businesswomen
engaging in international business and expands our
understanding of their successes, challenges and motivations.
It provides unique insights and captures the views and
opinions of these entrepreneurial women with global
ambitions. We look at their significant but under recognised
contribution to Australia’s economic growth and job
creation. These women remain very optimistic about future
growth. Our survey of 416 women, reveals a dynamic
community of entrepreneurs and senior decision‐makers
guiding organisations into markets around the world.
Women entrepreneurs
go global fast
There is a large, active group of women-owned businesses
operating across varied foreign markets. These are
typically young, small-medium-sized
enterprises, founded within the past
4-8 years. They have been very quick
to embrace global opportunities. Over
two-fifths (42%) internationalised
within 12 months of start-up, and
81% within the first 5 years. A third of
these organisations (33%) earn more than
50% of their sales revenue internationally.
Expanding overseas has been a key success driver for these
women-owned businesses. Almost
two thirds (62%) report sales growth
of more than 10% over the past year.
Over a third (35%) report sales growth
of more than 40%. These numbers
are even higher for organisations that
have internationalised in the past five
years, with 52% reporting sales growth of
more than 40% in the past year. Foreign sales growth of
more than 100% was reported by 16% of the women‐
owned businesses. Almost a fifth (19%) of the women‐
owned businesses also reported
growth in employment numbers
of 10% or more over the past 12
months, with 4% more than doubling
their headcount. Again, employment
growth was even higher for firms
in early stages of internationalisation.
Of those who have internationalised
within the past 5 years, 31% reported growth
in employment numbers of 10%
or more over the past 12 months,
with 9% more than doubling their
headcount.
Australia’s female international
owner-operators do not fit
the stereotype of young,
brash entrepreneurs. Rather,
these female success stories are
overwhelmingly baby-boomers
(62% are 50+ years of age). They
are very well-educated (78% hold a
bachelor degree or higher). They bring
a wealth of life and business experience to their start‐ups.
Half (50%) have worked overseas in previous organisations,
typically for five or more years, often
in the USA, UK, China or Singapore.
Australia’s women-owned businesses
have already achieved significant
success overseas, with the majority
(51%) operating in five or more
foreign markets, and a quarter in ten or
more. There is a strong appetite for further
expansion with 74% indicating they are seeking to expand
into new markets, and none intending to scale back their
global reach.
The most common first locations
for expansion by women‐
owned organisations were the USA
(14%), NZ (12%), UK (9%) and Japan
(8%). China has been on the rise in
recent years, accounting for 13% of
first entries in the past five years. Asia
is by far the most common region for
Executive Summary
33%
Report over
50% of revenue
from export
31%
Report jobs
growth of more
than 10%
62%
Are over 50
78%
Hold a
bachelor degree
or higher
74%
Are seeking
to expand into
new markets
51%
Operate in 5+
markets
81%
Exported within
the first 5 years
9
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
first expansion, up from 40% of
firms who first went international 5
or more years ago to 47% of firms
who internationalised within the past
5 years. The big drops have been in
Europe (down from 20% to 11%) and
Oceania (20% to 13%).
Businesswomen leaders
guiding global businesses
The survey also identified a similar‐sized group of women
employed in executive roles within internationalised
organisations. Just over a quarter of
the respondents are members of the
C-suite within their organisation.
These women are younger (only
18% were 50+), and even more
highly educated (90% hold a
bachelor degree or higher) than the
aforementioned owner‐operators.
Their organisations tend to be
much larger – 43% have 500+
employees – and are older and more
experienced overseas. We contend that some of
these women may become the next generation of Australian
international entrepreneurs, as they are currently building the
sets of requisite skills for such transitions. Their rise within
organisations also reflects the welcome growing presence of
senior women in corporate Australia.
The rise of China continues
The countries most frequently
identified as the most
important market were China (34%),
the USA (23%), and the UK (7%).
China was more frequently cited
as most important (36%) for the
more experienced organisations
(those operating internationally
for over five years). China has
jumped considerably since our first survey (from
18% to 34%). This year we also asked about the most
important region and Asia was ranked #1 by just over half
(52%) the women.
The most common business
motivation (56% of owner-
operators, 62% of women
employed in strategic roles) for
internationalisation was the
proactive pursuit of new markets.
The next most frequent triggers were
reactive: responding to approaches
from foreign clients, following key
customers and other unexpected
opportunities. Owner-operators were
considerably more likely to be reactive
than their more proactive employed
counterparts. We argue this suggests a
greater proactivity and confidence among Australia’s
female entrepreneurs may come from the facilitation
of better international networks for Australia’s aspiring global
entrepreneurs, with government agencies a
key avenue.
Both groups of women identified
a variety of organisational
benefits flowing from this
international presence, including
positive reputational effects,
strengthened strategic positions,
improved competitiveness, enhanced
workforce capabilities and greater profitability.
These benefits were significantly higher with lengthier time
in the global arena. Given that so many of these women
have only internationalised recently, a rush of benefits to the
Australian economy should be forthcoming.
The challenges
of global expansion
Australia’s businesswomen have
confronted, and overcome, a number
of hurdles in their internationalisation
efforts. Among the most substantial
barriers we identify are: the high
$A, difficulty locating a suitable
distributor, red tape issues in
establishing foreign operations, a lack of resources
to cover the investment timeframe
(especially relative to the costs),
and a lack of alternative sources
of capital. Women running their
own international organisations
consistently rated these impediments
as higher than the senior female
employees (the exception was on the
currency risk front). This is symptomatic of the large
differences in access to resources, networks and information
for these two groups of women.
This second annual survey allows us to track the progression
of a subsample of the women from the first survey. Almost
two thirds (63%) of the women who had indicated an
intention to expand the number of countries in which their
business operated had achieved this goal in 2014. Doing
0%
Intending to
scale back
global reach
The next
generation of
international
women
entrepreneurs
are likely to
come from the
corporate sector
52%
Rank Asia
as #1 region
34%
Identify China
as the most
important
market
Clear benefits
identified
when doing
international
business
Expect a rush
of benefits to
the Australian
economy
Barriers are
becomming more
challenging
not less
Access to capital
remains the
most important
barrier
10
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
business abroad has not got easier however. As these women expand
their businesses into new locations, they continue to encounter issues
that hinder growth.
On almost all of the 31 issues we track across the survey, the
respondents report the barrier to be causing more or similar
hindrance to 12 months
earlier. The only two
to drop noticeably are
cultural differences and
the perceived risks of losing
money selling products or
services abroad. The barrier
that has most consistently increased is lack
of alternative sources of capital.
In this second annual survey we
specifically investigate financing
challenges which emerged from the
inaugural survey as particularly salient
for Australian businesswomen in the
international arena. We find that
most internationalised women‐owned
organisations rely primarily on personal
savings and reinvested profits to fund
expansion. Only 21% of the owner-
operators had attempted to borrow to
fund internationalisation, and of these
attempts, only 27% were successful. Only
10% of respondents regarded ease of
accessing finance
as easy or very easy,
while 55% rated it
difficult or very difficult.
Almost two fifths (39%)
of the internationally
engaged owner-operators felt
that gender made a difference to
their access to finance. This number
was considerably higher (52%) for female owner-operators
who were yet to internationalise. This does point to an often
underplayed constraint to ongoing international expansion of
women-‐owned Australian organisations.
Our report identifies a number of opportunities to nurture and
assist Australia’s businesswomen in their international efforts. We
offer promising evidence of the positive impact of mentoring
in reducing barriers and building confidence, and a clear
appetite for greater access to mentors. Programs such as WIGB
are ideal mechanisms for increased sharing of information,
contacts and lessons from successful counterparts, the building
of skills and capacity, networking, and as a forum for offering
specifically targeted policies and interventions.
55%
Rate accessing
finance difficult
39%
Of exporters feel
gender makes a
difference when
borrowing
52%
Of non exporters
feel gender
makes a
difference when
borrowing
11
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
typical australian
women owner operators
in international business
78% hold a bachelor degree or higher
72% were born in Australia
62% are over 50
61% work more than 50 hours/week
45% speak at least one other language
42% have previously worked overseas
37% completed management &
commerce qualications
24% make 5+ business trips per year
28% have children at home
12
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Australia’s international
businesswomen remain an
under‐recognised success
story and important national
resource. Across a variety of
sectors, and in markets around
the world, Australian female
entrepreneurs and senior
decision‐makers are building
globally competitive organisations.
This report captures their
experiences, their successes, and
the challenges they continue
to face.
For the second year, Women in Global Business in
conjunction with a research team at the University
of Melbourne have gathered insights from over 400
Australian businesswomen, through both
a survey and also focus group discussions.
1
The report highlights the ongoing emergence of
women owned and operated organisations
embarking upon and expanding operations
in foreign markets. Their experiences
are contrasted with those of the many
women playing senior strategic roles as
key employees in internationally active
businesses and organisations. These
women are not often seen in the popular
business media, and defy the stereotype of
young, entrepreneurial upstarts. Rather, they
are more typically Baby Boomers, with a
wealth of life and business experience taking
substantial risks in complex global markets.
Their businesses are growing fast, typically
in the service sector, with an increasing focus
on Asia.
These successes are coming despite considerable
barriers and limited support, especially from financial
institutions and funding agencies. We identify a range of
positive policy and networking opportunities that could
help further boost this emerging national resource.
1. Introduction
13
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
About the survey
We surveyed 416 Australian businesswomen from several
distinct groups with varying levels of engagement in the
international arena (see Figure 1). Each group has distinct
experiences, challenges and opportunities for ongoing
growth.
Owner‐Operators: We surveyed 183 women who owned
and operated their own business, of which 73% operated
internationally, and 27% were not yet international. In this
report we contrast the profiles of these two groups of female
entrepreneurs in terms of demographics, motivations and
experiences.
Employees in a Strategic Role: We surveyed 171
women employed in roles with significant decision‐making
responsibilities regarding their organisation’s strategic
direction. Of these employees in strategic roles, 89%
worked in organisations that operated internationally. In this
report we often compare these employees’ experience of
internationalisation with those of the owner‐operators.
Employees without a Strategic Role: We surveyed
62 women employed in roles that did not have significant
decision making responsibilities regarding their organisation’s
strategic direction. Of these 82% worked in organisations
that operated internationally. Much of our analysis excludes
these 62 women, although we recognise that these
women may take on strategic roles, as employees or as
owner‐operators, in the future. As such, they represented
an untapped resource for Australia’s international business
performance.
Longitudinal Panel: In our first survey we asked
participants if we could track their responses from survey-‐
to-survey. We are able to present longitudinal data on
89 women this year, of whom 44% are internationally‐
engaged owner operators, 14% are solely domestic owner‐
operators, 20% are women employed in strategic roles in
internationally-active organisations, and 7% are employed in
strategic roles in solely domestic businesses.
ABOUT THE FOCUS GROUPS
Conscious that each Australian businesswoman will
take an idiosyncratic path to the international arena,
we ran two focus groups – one each in Melbourne
and Sydney – to delve deeper into some of the
more salient aspects of the internationalisation
experience. The groups including nine women,
eight internationally‐engaged owner‐operators and
one senior executive employed in an internationally
active business. Quotes from these sessions appear
throughout the Report.
FIGURE 1: BREAKDOWN OF SAMPLE
2. The Women Driving Internationalisation
FIGURE 1: BREAKDOWN OF SAMPLE
Owner-
operators
Employees in
strategic
roles
Employees
without
strategic roles
Total
International
134
152
51
337
Not international
49
19
11
79
68
Total
183
171
62
416
14
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Australia’s female owner‐operators
draw upon a wide diversity of
experiences to engage with an
ever‐growing mix of countries. They
typically run organisations within the
service sector, and these organisations
are predominantly small-to-medium-
sized enterprises (SMEs). Their
organisations are typically still
quite young.
Age of owner‐operators: Baby boomers predominate
in our sample – both among those operating
internationally and those who are yet to internationalise.
The image of the startup as the domain of young
entrepreneurs is clearly misrepresentative of the Australian
reality among businesswomen. Almost two thirds (62%)
of the international owner‐operators are 50 plus years of
age, while 57% of the yet-to-internationalise are 50 plus
(see Figure 2). The 40-49 age group is next most common.
These entrepreneurs bring a wealth of experience to their
organisations from previous work experience.
Educational background of owner‐operators: Our
respondents are very well-educated. Over 70% of the owner-
operators hold a bachelor degree or higher, including 78%
of the internationally-engaged women (see Figure 3). This is
more than double the proportion in Australia’s working age
population. Almost a third have a masters or PhD. While we
did not ask when their highest level of study was undertaken,
it is reasonable to assume, given the typical age of our
respondents, that many of these women have returned to
study throughout their working lives.
Our assumption that the female owner‐operators often
returned to study is further bolstered by the data showing
Management & Commerce was the most common area
of study (of the highest qualification achieved), with almost
half (47%) of the yet-to-internationalise women completing
such programmes, and 37% of the internationalised owner‐
operators (see Figure 4). This means many are likely to
have completed Masters of Business Administration, or
Masters of International Business studies which directly
contribute to the required skills of managing and leading
organisations. Education (16%) and Society and Culture
(16%) courses were the next most common educational
backgrounds of the internationalised owner‐operators.
3. A Snapshot of Australia’s
Women Owner Operators
“The more knowledge you have as you
go through life… (with) experience
from different companies, the better
understanding you develop of how to
do things in your own company....”.
FIGURE 2: AGE DISTRIBUTION (%)
0
15
23
62
0
14
29
57
18 - 25 26 - 39 40 - 49 50+
International Non - international
FIGURE 2: AGE DISTRIBUTION (%)
FIGURE 3: HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION COMPLETED (%)
Secondary school
Trade Cert
Cert I - IV
Advanced diploma
Bachelor
Graduate Diploma
Masters
PhD
5
1
2
15
32
14
26
6
6
0
4
18
29
14
27
2
Non - international
International
FIGURE 3: HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION
COMPLETED (%)
FIGURE 4: AREA OF STUDY (%)
HIGHEST QUALIFICATION COMPLETED
Engineering
Agric & Enviro
IT
Science
Health
Creative arts
Education
Law, politics, language
Mgmnt & commerce
0
0
5
5
7
7
16
16
37
0
5
5
7
7
12
7
7
47
Non-international
International
FIGURE 4: AREA OF STUDY (%) - HIGHEST
QUALIFICATION COMPLETED
15
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Ethnic background of owner‐operators: The sample mirrors the ethnic background
of the general population. Just over a quarter (28%) of the internationalised owner-
operators were born outside Australia (see Figure 5), comparable to national
proportions (30%).
2
Fewer of the women running yet‐to‐internationalise organisations
were foreign born (22%). Those born overseas were from a diverse range of countries.
“We came with $70, four
suitcases and two babies, and we
were babies ourselves. We were
only 22. I really wanted to leave
a legacy to other women and to
show that it’s possible coming
with a second language, with no
money and become successful
and an inspiration for
other women.”
FIGURE 5
Non-international
International
Australia
72
New Zealand
5
United Kingdom
5
USA
2
South Africa
2
Germany
Australia
2
New Zealand
Malaysia
2
Switzerland
United Kingdom
2
USA
China
2
South Africa
77
Germany
0
Malaysia
6
Switzerland
2
China
0 0 0 0 0
owner-operator country of birth (%)
16
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
There is a mismatch between the specific language skills
and the geographic priorities of these firms (see Section
6) which shows European markets are rarely a priority).
However, speaking more than one language is a strong
driver of cultural awareness and communication capacity,
irrespective of the specific languages involved.
3
Thus,
the language data does reflect considerable promise for
future expansion capacity.
Prior international experiences of owner-
operators: New to this year’s survey were questions
about prior experience of international work. Working
overseas may contribute to knowledge of specific
market opportunities, to the development of networks
of contacts, and to confidence about the prospect of
success. Experience managing
cross-border operations
has been found to shape
international decision-making
and management skills.
4
Half
(50%) of internationally-engaged
owner operators have worked
overseas in previous organisations.
Language capabilities of owner‐operators: In both
categories approximately 17% of the women indicate
they speak a language other than English at home, just
slightly less than the national proportion (20.4%). The most
common languages spoken at home
are German, Italian, Spanish and
French. The language resources run
deeper than this, however. Almost
half (45% of internationalised
owner operators, 43% of not-
yet-‐internationalised) indicate
some capacity to speak a language
other than English, with European languages
(French, Italian, German and Spanish) predominating (see
Figure 6). The most common Asian languages are Japanese,
Indonesian and Mandarin.
50%
Have worked
overseas
previously
45%
Respondents
speak a second
language
FIGURE 6: LANGUAGES SPOKEN (%)
Note: Respondents could list more than one foreign language spoken
Note: Respondents could list more than one foreign language spoken
Cantonese
Mandarin
Indonesian
Japanese
Spanish
German
Italian
French
Only English
4
4
6
7
7
8
9
19
55
0
2
6
2
6
8
4
18
57
Non-international
International
FIGURE 6: LANGUAGES SPOKEN (%)
Note: Respondents could list more
than one foreign language spoken
FIGURE 6: LANGUAGES SPOKEN (%)
Note: Respondents could list more than one foreign language spoken
Note: Respondents could list more than one foreign language spoken
Cantonese
Mandarin
Indonesian
Japanese
Spanish
German
Italian
French
Only English
4
4
6
7
7
8
9
19
55
0
2
6
2
6
8
4
18
57
Non-international
International
17
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Surprisingly, an even greater proportion (55%) of the
women running organisations that are yet-to-internationalise
have such experience. One key difference is that the
internationally-engaged owner-operators typically have spent
more years working overseas, with 42% reported 5+ years of
experience versus 26% of the yet-‐to-internationalise owner‐
operators. As Figure 7 also shows, a greater proportion
of the latter has less than 12 months experience working
overseas (36% versus 22% for the internationally‐engaged).
We asked respondents to list up to four countries in which
they had worked (ranked by length of time).
The two most common locations for both groups
of owner-operators were the UK and the USA (see Figure
8). This is not surprising given the language and
institutional commonalities, and the high level of
engagement between Australia and these two
large economies. The internationally engaged owner-‐
operators are considerably more likely to have worked in
China, Japan, India and Hong Kong, key locations in our
region. The positive impact of such work experiences was
repeatedly mentioned by the focus group participants.
FIGURE 7: YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WORKING OVERSEAS (%)
< 1
1-2
3-5
5 +
22
19
16
42
36
26
13
26
Non-international
International
FIGURE 7: YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
WORKING OVERSEAS (%)
FIGURE 7: YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WORKING OVERSEAS (%)
< 1
1-2
3-5
5 +
22
19
16
42
36
26
13
26
Non-international
International
“When you make the decision
to live and work in other
countries for long periods of
time you really do need to
adapt and it does humble
you. It requires that you think
differently. It requires that you
are much more considerate in
the way you think about what
you’re doing and how you’re
doing it and how does that
impact the people around you.”
18
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Motivations for starting a business: We asked the
owner-operators to identify their prime personal motivation
for establishing their organisation. As Figure 9 shows, for
women running now-internationalised organisations, the
prime motive was the recognition of a business opportunity
an opportunity presented itself (25%), followed by
the entrepreneurial drive – I always wanted a business
(18%), to be my own boss, and dissatisfaction with
employed work (11%). The owner-operators who had yet
to internationalise were more evenly split with regards to
their prime motivations with four prime motivations – an
opportunity presented itself, I always wanted a business,
to have more flexibility and thought I could do better
equally predominant (each 14%). The entrepreneurs in our
focus groups often linked their personal motivations to where
they were in their professional and personal lives.
“In my first job I was just sent overseas by myself and told to find opportunities… So all
I know is that the world is out there and you’ve got to hurry up and make contact with it.”
FIGURE 8
Note: Respondents could list up to four countries (in order of time spent)
“I would come up with entrepreneurial ideas that
were successful but my agency didn’t like that.
When I got retrenched, I thought if I don’t start
it now I never will. I was 39 and I thought that I
could do it but I needed that sort of crisis in my
life in order to take that leap.”
“I started my business
at 40. Both my sons
had finished high
school and were more
independent....I went
overseas…[and for] the
first time I travelled on
my own….six months
later I started a business.”
JapanThailandIndiaSingapore
United Kingdom
USA Hong Kong
France Malaysia IndonesiaChina
New Zealand
JapanThailandIndiaSingapore
United Kingdom
USA Hong Kong
France Malaysia IndonesiaChina
27 8 8 8 7 77 67 624 13
27 10 2 2 0 62 42 614 4
most common countries working overseas (%)
Non-international
International
New Zealand
19
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
As the respondents were also asked to rank their #2 and
#3 motivations, we have calculated a weighted motivation
score. As Figure 10 shows, while the existence of an
opportunity and being one’s own boss remain as key
drivers, to have more flexibility shows up as the third most
common motivation among these entrepreneurs. Alongside
dissatisfaction with employed work and hit a glass ceiling
in my career, the desire for greater flexibility may reflect a
mismatch for some of these women between the constraints
of corporate life and both entrepreneurial interests and family
pressures. This is explored further in Section 10.
FIGURE 9: MOTIVATION FOR START-UP (%)
FIGURE 9: MOTIVATION FOR START-UP (%)
International
Non-international
25
An opportunity presented itself
14
18
Always wanted a business
14
14 To be my own boss 7
11
Dissatisfaction with employed work
0
5
Hit glass ceiling in my career
0
5
To have more flexibility
14
5
Thought I could do better
14
5
To do something constructive whilst caring for
children at home
0
FIGURE 10: WEIGHTED MOTIVATION FOR START-UP (%)
FIGURE 10: WEIGHTED MOTIVATION FOR START-UP (%)
International
Non-international
18
An opportunity presented itself
14
16
Be my own boss
12
15 Have more flexibility 16
10
Always wanted a business
7
7
Dissatisfaction with employed work
2
7
Hit glass ceiling in my career
2
7
Thought I could do better
8
6 Make more money 12
Note: Respondents’ rankings were weighted as follows: #1=3, #2=2, #3=1
Note: Respondents’ rankings were weighted as follows: #1=3, #2=2, #3=1
Prior entrepreneurial experience of owner-operators:
In this year’s survey, we asked whether this was the first
business a respondent had started. Approximately, a third
of the women (32% of the internationally-engaged owner-
operators, and 38% of those not-
yet-internationally engaged) can be
described as serial entrepreneurs,
as they had previously founded
a business. Again, this reflects
considerable accumulated
business acumen.
1 in 3
Women are serial
entrepreneurs
20
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Size: These women-owned organisations are typically small-
medium enterprises. Most (88% of the internationalised,
90% of the yet-to-internationalise) have less than 20
employees, with 66-82% employing
less than 5 employees (see Figure
11). This profile closely matches the
Australian business population (97%
of Australian organisations employ
less than 20 workers, 88% less than
5). While there are only a handful of
organisations in the sample with 100+
employees (2-4%), the percentage actually exceeds
the ratio in the Australian business population.
5
With regard to annual turnover, 42% of the internationalised
and 29% of the yet-to-internationalise organisations
generate $1m+ per annum. Operating internationally does
correlate with greater turnover in our sample, with 7% of the
internationalised women-owned organisations turning over
$10m+ per annum, while none of the yet-to-internationalise
organisations exceeded the $10m mark (see Figure 12).
88%+
Employ less
than 20 people
FIGURE 11: BUSINESS SIZE - EMPLOYEES (%)
FIGURE 11: BUSINESS SIZE - EMPLOYEES (%)
0
1 - 4
22
20 - 99
100 - 199
200 - 499
500+
24
42
8
10
2
1
1
45
37
1.8
8
0
2
0
Non-international
International
FIGURE 7: YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WORKING OVERSEAS (%)
< 1
1-2
3-5
5 +
22
19
16
42
36
26
13
26
Non-international
International
FIGURE 12
INFOGRAPHIC 5 HERE
1
0
5
4
22
8
58
710
2
0
4
$50 - 100m $20 - 50m $10 - 20m $5 - 10m $1 - 5m < $1m
business size - annual revenue (%)
Non-international
International
The women owned organisations
21
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Industry Sectors: As Figure 13 shows, these
organisations typically operate in service sectors.
Most common among the internationalised
organisations are Education & Training (17%),
Business & Finance (11%) and ICT (10%).
There is a more diverse mix among the yet-
to-internationalise organisations. Personal
& Other Services (13%) is the largest
group, with noticeably more in Building &
Construction (9%), and Consumer Goods
(9%) than among the internationalised
sample. The internationalisation of service
industries is a relatively recent global
phenomenon,
6
trailing the more traditional
manufacturing and extractive industries due
to the challenges of adapting culturally- and
institutionally-specific offerings, and the complexity
of building and managing the often face-to-face
relationships with clients.
It is exciting for Australia’s growth opportunities that
women-owned SMEs have been so successful in embracing
these new opportunities. This mix also contrasts starkly
with those identified in the recent Australia’s International
Business Survey (2014),
7
where ‘elaborate manufactures’
made up 21% of the sample, and food processing was the
third largest sector.
FIGURE 13
Non-international
International
industry sectors (%)
9
9 9
0
9
9
7
9
9
4
4
2
13
2
11
7 7
2
9
5
5
2
17
5
10
5
6
3
Business &
Finance
Education
& Training
Building &
Construction
Machinery,
Parts &
Equipment
Mining
& Metals
Food
& Beverage
Consumer
Biotechnology
Agribusiness
Personal
Services
Textile,
Clothing &
Footwear
Culture,
Media &
Entertainment
Health &
Medical
ICT
22
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
INFOGRAPHIC 6 HERE
Ownership: There was considerable difference between
the ownership structures of the internationally engaged
and not-yet-international organisations. While just over half
(55%) of the internationally engaged women indicated their
business is solely owned, almost three quarters (74%) of the
yet-to-internationalise organisations are solely owned. As
Figure 14 shows, minority ownership was rare, and the most
common joint owner is a spouse/long-term partner (28% of
the joint owned internationally engaged, 12% for the
yet-to-internationalise). Joint ownership with venture
capitalists while very uncommon, was more prevalent
among the yet-to-internationalise organisations. As
we discuss in Section 9, female owner-operators cite
access to finance as a frequent and substantial barrier
to internationalisation. Joint ownership may be one
mechanism to increase access to much-needed capital.
FIGURE 14
ownership structure (%)
Non-internationalInternational
Sole Owner
55% 74%
Minority share
6% 0%
With spouse
28% 12%
With friend
5% 2%
With
acquaintance
10% 2%
With venture
capitalist
1% 4%
Joint with
business partner
41% 26%
Joint with
external party
4% 0%
23
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Age of organisations: While their owners bring a wealth
of life experience, many of these organisations are young.
Almost a quarter (24%) of the internationalised organisations
commenced operations in the past 4 years (since 2010), and
45% since 2005 (see Figure 15). The yet-to-internationalise
are even younger with 31% starting since 2010, and 55%
since 2005. On the other side of the ledger more than a third
of the firms were founded last century.
FIGURE 16
FIGURE 15: YEARS OF OPERATION (%)
FIGURE 15: YEARS OF OPERATION (%)
25 + years
15 - 24 years
10 - 14 years
4 - 9 years
< 3 years
9
28
19
21
24
6
26
12
24
31
Non-international
International
FIGURE 7: YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WORKING OVERSEAS (%)
< 1
1-2
3-5
5 +
22
19
16
42
36
26
13
26
Non-international
International
Location of headquarters:
The headquarters of these
women‐owned organisations
are distributed across the
Australian states and territories
in relatively similar pattern to
that in the general population
(see Figure 16).
8
Queensland
and Western Australian are
somewhat underrepresented,
while the ACT and Tasmania
are overrepresented,
particularly among the not-yet-
internationalised organisations.
Around one in ten (9-10%)
of the organisations indicate
their headquarters is in a rural
location.
INFOGRAPHIC 7 HERE
headquarter location (%)
International - 1%
Non-international - 0%
International - 8%
Non-international - 4%
Intl - 28%
Non-intl - 29%
International - 6%
Non-international - 8%
International - 3%
Non-international - 6%
International - 15%
Non-international - 17%
International - 8%
Non-international - 8%
International - 32%
Non-international - 27%
24
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Alongside the female owner-
operators there is a further cadre of
internationally engaged Australian
businesswomen – those employed
within organisations and playing
strategic roles in their firms’
international success. These
women are younger and even
more highly educated than their
entrepreneurial counterparts. They
typically work in larger, older, and
more globally active organisations.
Age of employees in strategic roles: This group of
women is noticeably younger than the owner-operator
cohort (see Figure 17). Less than a fifth (18%) are 50+ years
of age. The 40-49 age group is the most prevalent (42%),
followed by the 26-39 category (36%). As we argued in last
year’s report, these women may well be the source of future
owner-operators.
Educational background of employees in strategic
roles: The women employed in strategic roles in
internationally active organisations are even more well-
educated than the owner-operators. Roughly 90% of the
women hold a bachelor degree or higher (see Figure 18),
almost triple the proportion in Australia’s working age
population. Almost half (44%) have a masters or PhD. Some
of the difference may be reflective of the younger age of
these women, as they have grown up in a period of a fast-
expanding university sector and greater access. Nevertheless,
it does point to a high quality labour pool.
Management & Commerce was even more prevalent as the
most common area of study, with well over half (58%) of the
women employed in strategic roles in internationally active
organisations completing such programmes (see Figure 19).
This most likely reflects the rise of MBAs and similar programs
as pathways to executive positions. Society and culture (e.g.
law, politics and languages) courses were the next most
common (15%) courses, while Education was relatively rare
(especially when compared to the internationalised owner-
operators) as was Creative Arts (the second most common
among yet-to-internationalise owner-operators). Noticeably
more prevalent here than among the owner-operator samples
were both Agriculture & Environmental studies (5%) and
Engineering (4%).
4. A Snapshot of Australia’s
Women Employed in Strategic
Roles in Internationally Engaged Firms
FIGURE 17: AGE DISTRIBUTION (%)
3
36
42
18
18 - 25 26 - 39 40 - 49 50+
FIGURE 17: AGE DISTRIBUTION (%)
FIGURE 18: HIGHEST LEVEL OF EDUCATION COMPLETED (%)
Secondary
Trade certificate
Cert I - IV
Advanced diploma
Bachelor
Graduate Diploma
Masters
PhD
3
0
3
5
27
19
41
3
FIGURE 18: HIGHEST LEVEL
OF EDUCATION COMPLETED (%)
FIGURE 19: AREA OF STUDY (%)
HIGHEST QUALIFICATION COMPLETED
IT
Creative Arts
Health
Engineering
Science
Education
Agric & Enviro
Law, politics, language
Mgmnt & commerce
0
2
3
4
4
4
5
15
58
FIGURE 19: AREA OF STUDY (%)
HIGHEST QUALIFICATION COMPLETED
25
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Language capabilities of employees in strategic roles:
Approximately 15% report they speak a language other than
English at home, somewhat less than the national proportion
(20.4%). The most common languages spoken at home are
French (15%), Mandarin (15%), Cantonese (10%), Malay
(10%) and Spanish (10%).
Roughly two fifths (38%) of the women employed in
strategic roles in internationally active organisations indicate
some capacity to speak a language other than English (see
Figure 21), with French the most common (14%), followed
by Mandarin (9%), Spanish (8%), and German (7%). The
presence of some Asian language skills is certainly promising
as we drive further into Asia, but the level is still likely to be
inadequate.
Prior international experiences of employees in
strategic roles: The women employed in strategic roles in
internationally active organisations often come to such roles
with prior experience of working overseas. Approximately
half (49%) have worked overseas in previous organisations.
For just over a quarter (28%) their current organisation is
the first in which they have worked offshore. Just less than
a quarter (23%) are yet to work overseas at all. As Figure
22 shows, approximately a third of the sample (34%) have
worked overseas for 5+ years.
FIGURE 21: LANGUAGES SPOKEN (%)
Note: Respondents could list more than one foreign language spoke
Note: Respondents could list more than one foreign language spoken
Indonesian
Cantonese
Japanese
Italian
German
Spanish
Mandarin
French
Only English
2
3
5
5
7
8
9
14
62
FIGURE 21: LANGUAGES SPOKEN (%)
Note: Respondents could list more
than one foreign language spoken
FIGURE 22: YEARS OF EXPERIENCE WORKING OVERSEAS (%)
< 1
1-2
3-5
5 +
20
22
24
34
FIGURE 22: YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
WORKING OVERSEAS (%)
Ethnic background of employees in strategic roles:
The sample is very similar in terms of country of birth to
the owner-operators and to the general population in
Australia. Almost a third (32%) of the women employed
in strategic roles in internationally active organisations
were born outside Australia (see Figure 20), comparable
to national proportion (30%).
68
United Kingdom
8
Malaysia
3 3
New Zealand China/Hong Kong
3
South Africa
2
country of birth (%)
Australia
FIGURE 20
26
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
We asked respondents to list up to four countries in which they had worked (ranked
by length of time). As with the owner operators the two most common locations
for both groups of owner-operators are the UK and USA (see Figure 23). The level of
work experience in key Asian markets such as China (16%) and Singapore (13%) is
noticeably higher, reflective of the Asian economic boom of the past decade and a half,
and Australian firms’ embrace of Asia. Such experience is also promising for increased
engagement in the region.
Note: Respondents could list up to four countries (in order of time spent)
FIGURE 23
INFOGRAPHIC 9 HERE
Japan ThailandIndiaSingapore
United Kingdom
USA Hong Kong
FranceChina New Zealand
33 24 16 13 9 7 6 5 5 5
most common countries working overseas (%)
Their strategic roles: Just over a quarter of the
women employed in strategic roles in internationally
active organisations are definitely part of the C-Suite,
with 11% reporting as CEO or equivalent, and a further
15% as a member of the Senior Executive. The most
common role is in Business Development/Sales (16%).
Also prominent are International Operations/Strategy
(12%), Marketing Manager (12%) and Group or
Division Head (11%).
27
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Size: In contrast to the women-owned organisations,
our sample of employees in international strategic
roles predominantly worked in large organisations
(see Figure 24). Over two fifths (43%) work in organisations
with 500+ employees. These are substantial organisations
that generate considerable economic value within the
Australian economy.
This is also reflected in the data on annual sales turnover,
with 36% of the sample working in organisations that
turnover $100m+ per annum (see Figure 25). The majority
(56%) earn at least $20m in revenue per annum.
FIGURE 24: BUSINESS SIZE – EMPLOYEES (%)
FIGURE 24: BUSINESS SIZE EMPLOYEES (%)
0
1 - 4
5 - 19
20 - 99
100 - 199
200 - 499
500+
0
5
16
22
7
9
43
Industry Sectors: Not all of these women worked in
the for-profit sector. Almost a third (30%) described their
organisation as ‘Government or Not for Profit’. Many of
these are in the Education & Training sector. As Figure 26
shows, across the sample of employees in strategic roles in
internationally active organisations, the Education & Training
sector is the most prevalent (22%), followed by Business &
Finance (12%). Beyond these two, there is a very diverse mix
with most major sectors represented. The mix is broader than
for our owner-operator sample, indicative of raft of new skills
and industry knowledge which could be leveraged into this
arena in the future
.
FIGURE 25: BUSINESS SIZE REVENUE (%)
> $ 1 b
$100 m - $ 1 b
$50 - 100 m
$20 - 50 m
$ 10 - 20 m
$5 - 10 m
$ 1-5 m
< $ 1m
20
16
5
15
6
5
12
5
FIGURE 25: BUSINESS SIZE – REVENUE (%)
FIGURE 26
INFOGRAPHIC 10 HERE
22 612 47 4 37 4 26 4 2
main industry sectors (%)
Education
& Training
Business
& Finance
ICT
Agribusiness
Building
& Construction
Food &
Beverage
Mining
& Metals
Health
& Medical
Consumer
Goods
Culture,
Media &
Entertainment
Personal &
Other Services
Machinery,
Parts &
Equipment
Biotechnology
The organisations in which they work
28
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Location of headquarters: One further difference with
respect to our sample of women employed in strategic
roles in internationally active organisations is that just over
a quarter of the sample (27%) work for multinational
companies headquartered outside Australia (see Figure
27). Of these, the USA was by far the most common
headquarter locale, followed by the UK and Singapore.
Within Australia, the distribution is reflective of the
Australian population of businesses, with Western
Australia more adequately represented than in the
women-owned organisations samples. Again, 10% of the
organisations indicate their headquarters to be
in a rural location.
FIGURE 27
headquarter location (%)
1%
10%
24%
3%
22%
3%
3%
6%
INTERNATIONAL
USA 16%
UK 4%
Singapore 2%
29
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Having established the basic
demographic profile of the women
surveyed and the organisations which
they own or work in, we now turn
specifically to the findings with regard
to their organisation’s international
engagement.
We show Australian businesswomen are highly engaged
with the international arena. We also look specifically at the
returns their efforts have reaped, and the barriers they face
in expansion.
The timing of the first step: Among the internationalised
owner-operators just over a third (37%) first ventured
overseas in the past 4 years, and 71% in the past 8 years
(see Figure 28). Just over a fifth (21%) of women-owned
organisations have been operating internationally since
before 2000. This contrasts with the organisations in which
the women in strategic roles are employed. The majority
of these organisations (59%) commenced international
operations before 2000, and only 6% headed offshore for
the first time this decade. It is fair to assume that some of
strategic issues that women employed in strategic roles are
encountering internationally may differ substantially from
those experienced by the owner-operators. Many of the latter
group are still finding their feet in the international arena.
Age when stepping out: For the women owned-and-
operated-organisations we are also able to calculate the
age of the entity at time of internationalisation for all
operations that commenced from 1990 on.
9
As Figure 29
shows, the speed of internationalisation has been startlingly
fast, with over two fifths (42%) of the women-owned
organisations engaging internationally within the first 12
months of operations, and 81% within the first 5 years (see
Figure 29). This does indicate a high level of risk-taking, and
preparedness, on the part of these entrepreneurs.
The impact of internationalising: While we explore
both the scope of internationalisation and the specific
question of the level of success these moves have achieved
in following sections, we can immediately see the extent of
internationalisation.
5. Heading International
FIGURE 28: NUMBER OF YEARS IN
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS (%)
FIGURE 28: NUMBER OF YEARS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS (%)
25 + years
15 - 24 years
10 - 14 years
4 - 9 years
< 3 years
4
17
18
24
37
39
20
17
18
6
Strategic employees
Owner operators
FIGURE 28: NUMBER OF YEARS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS (%)
25 + years
15 - 24 years
10 - 14 years
4 - 9 years
< 3 years
4
17
18
24
37
39
20
17
18
6
Strategic employees
Owner operators
FIGURE 29: YEARS OF OPERATION
BEFORE INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT
FOR WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES (%)
FIGURE 29: YEARS OF OPERATION BEFORE INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT FOR WOMEN-
OWNED BUSINESSES (%)
42
21
18
9 10
First year 1-2 3-5 6-10 10+
30
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Sales impact: As Figure 30 shows, a third (33%) of
women-owned organisations in our sample earn more
than 50% of their sales revenue internationally. This
percentage is slightly higher (37%) for the organisations
employing females in a strategic role.
10
A similar ratio
(32% and 28% respectively) earn 10% or less of their sales
offshore. These data do demonstrate these organisations
have opened up new, often substantial, revenue streams
through international expansion. We discuss and expand
on this aspect further in the Section 7.
Asset impact: Not surprisingly, given these are almost
all small-to-medium sized organisations, few of the
women-owned entities have developed significant asset
holdings off shore. Only 13% have more than 50% of their
assets offshore, and more than half (53%) retain all assets
within Australia (see Figure 31). One fifth (20%) of the
organisations employing females in a strategic role have a
majority of their assets outside Australia, consistent with the
older age of these firms, their greater size, and with the fact
that several are the result of inward investment into Australia
by multinationals.
FIGURE 30: FOREIGN SALES
AS % OF TOTAL SALES (%)
FIGURE 30: FOREIGN SALES AS % OF TOTAL SALES (%)
0
0.1 - 10
10.1 - 25
26 - 50
51 - 75
76-99
100 %
3
29
14
22
12
16
5
6
22
15
20
10
24
3
Strategic employees
Owner operators
FIGURE 28: NUMBER OF YEARS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS (%)
25 + years
15 - 24 years
10 - 14 years
4 - 9 years
< 3 years
4
17
18
24
37
39
20
17
18
6
Strategic employees
Owner operators
FIGURE 31: INTERNATIONAL
ASSETS AS % OF TOTAL ASSETS
FIGURE 31: INTERNATIONAL ASSETS AS % OF TOTAL ASSETS
0
0.1 - 10
10.1 - 25
26 - 50
51 - 75
76-99
100 %
53
19
9
6
2
6
5
35
21
9
14
4
14
2
Strategic employees
Owner operators
FIGURE 28: NUMBER OF YEARS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS (%)
25 + years
15 - 24 years
10 - 14 years
4 - 9 years
< 3 years
4
17
18
24
37
39
20
17
18
6
Strategic employees
Owner operators
31
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
The location of the first step: English-speaking
countries predominate as the first country either type
of organisation entered, with the USA (14%), the UK
(12%) and New Zealand (11%) the most common initial
points of internationalisation. Roughly two fifths of the
organisations (41-44%) commenced their expansion in
Asia. As Figure 32 shows, owner-operators were more
likely to head across the Tasman to New Zealand (12%)
rather than all the way to the UK (9%). Asian countries
make up the next six most common first destinations,
with Japan most common (8%). For the organisations
employing females in a strategic role, China was the most
common Asian destination (11%).
FIGURE 32: FIRST INTERNATIONAL LOCATION (%)
FIGURE 32: FIRST INTERNATIONAL LOCATION (%)
Owner-
operators
Strategic
employees
USA
14
14
New Zealand
12
10
UK
9
11
Japan
8
6
China
7
11
Hong Kong
6
2
Singapore
5
7
Malaysia
3
6
Indonesia
2
6
REGIONS
Asia
41
44
Europe
20
18
Oceania
18
17
North America
14
15
Africa & the Middle East
6
0
Central & South America
0
2
32
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
The rise of China among the recently
internationalised: When we break the organisations
up into those who first internationalised within the past
5 years, and those who internationalised more than
5 years ago, the rise of China is very apparent. China
leaps into second spot (13%, up from 6%) among first
countries entered (see Figure 33). The USA has also
become more popular (18%, up from 12%). The rise of
these two economic giants appears to have been at the
expense of the UK (5%, down from 15%) and Japan
(3%, down from 8%). The rise of China accounts for
all of the increase in the propensity to commence the
international journey in Asia between the two periods
(47%, up from 40%). Another region on the rise is Africa
& the Middle East (7%, up from 2%), while Europe and
Oceania have declined.
FIGURE 33: FIRST COUNTRY AND REGION ENTERED BY TIME OVERSEAS (%)
FIGURE 33: FIRST COUNTRY AND REGION ENTERED BY TIME OVERSEAS (%)
Internationalised
in past 5 years
Internationalised
5+ years ago
USA
18 12
China 13 6
New Zealand
11
12
UK
5
15
Hong Kong 5 4
Singapore
4
6
Malaysia
4
5
Japan
3 8
Indonesia 3 4
REGIONS
Asia
47
40
North America 19 13
Oceania
13
20
Europe
11
20
Africa & the Middle East
7 2
Central & South America 0 1
33
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
The personal motivation for taking the first step:
We ask our survey participants to identify their personal
motivations for pursuing international engagement. This is
distinct from the business drivers behind their organisation’s
engagement. As Figure 34 shows, the owner-operators
identify previous travel (37%) and seeking a greater challenge
(37%) as their key drivers, followed by their previous work in
an international context (32%). Previous international work
experience is the most common motivation (34%) for the
women employed in strategic roles in internationally-engaged
organisations. Having a perceived language or cultural
advantage is a motivator for only a relatively small proportion
of the women we surveyed.
Multiple organisational motivations for taking the
first step: The rationales at an organisational level for
initial internationalisation vary considerably. Just over half
of the instances of initial international engagement (56%
for owner-operators, 62% for employees in strategic roles)
were motivated by
the pursuit of new
markets (see Figure
35). One focus
group entrepreneur
explained that it
was the size of the
market that made
all the difference
with Asia being
the main choice
of market for her
business. A considerable
portion (27% and 20%
respectively) were somewhat more reactive, as their initial
internationalisation was the result of an approach by an
overseas client, while for owner-operators over a fifth (22%)
indicated their expansion was triggered by an unexpected
opportunity. This was far less common (only 7%) among
FIGURE 34: PERSONAL
MOTIVATIONS FOR INTERNATIONALISATION (%)
FIGURE 34: PERSONAL MOTIVATIONS FOR INTERNATIONALISATION (%)
Note: Respondents could identify >1 motivation
Other
Language/cultural
advantage
Previous work intly
Seeking greater challenge
Previous travel
20
14
32
37
37
7
10
34
28
22
Strategic employees
Owner-operators
Note: Respondents could identify >1 motivation
FIGURE 34: PERSONAL MOTIVATIONS FOR INTERNATIONALISATION (%)
Note: Respondents could identify >1 motivation
Other
Language/cultural
advantage
Previous work intly
Seeking greater challenge
Previous travel
20
14
32
37
37
7
10
34
28
22
Strategic employees
Owner-operators
FIGURE 35: ORGANISATIONAL
MOTIVATIONS FOR INTERNATIONALISATION (%)
FIGURE 35: ORGANISATIONAL MOTIVATIONS FOR INTERNATIONALISATION (%)
Note: Respondents could identify >1 motivation
Seek equipment
Reduce costs
Follow key competitors
Economies of scale
Build staff capability
Follow key suppliers
Access resources
Spread risk
Build value chains
First mover advantage
Innovation
Unexpected opportunity
Build credibility
Approach by overseas client
Follow key customers
Seek new markets
1
4
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
19
22
24
27
27
56
3
6
7
9
7
2
9
9
10
9
12
7
15
20
24
62
Strategic employees
Owner-operators
Note: Respondents could identify >1 motivation
FIGURE 34: PERSONAL MOTIVATIONS FOR INTERNATIONALISATION (%)
Note: Respondents could identify >1 motivation
Other
Language/cultural
advantage
Previous work intly
Seeking greater challenge
Previous travel
20
14
32
37
37
7
10
34
28
22
Strategic employees
Owner-operators
“When you look at the
numbers in Australia I have
a market of 20 million
people or I have a market of
two billion people in Asia….
What are you going to go
for? …..You’re going to go
for the two billion people”
employees in strategic roles. This may reflect the more
serendipitous nature of running a smaller business versus the
more structured strategic planning of larger organisations. Of
course, while responding to an unexpected opportunity, or an
approach by an overseas client might be seen as reactive, the
choice to take up the prospect is a proactive one. Supporting
domestic organisations’ capacity and willingness to take such
chances is crucial to
further boosting the
number of women-
owned and driven
Australian businesses
to take their first step
into global markets.
A focus group
member highlighted
how her firm’s initial
overseas move was
triggered by an
unexpected approach,
yet reflected her
perception of the next
step.
“We’ve got a very niche
business; so niche that
I’ve got to take it overseas
because the market is too
small in Australia.….. So
it was partly in my head
but then this [opportunity]
happened and it made me
aware that we do have
something really good to
offer international markets.”
34
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Internationalisation to gain credibility:
Owner-operators are also more likely (24%) to view
internationalisation as a path for gaining credibility. This
may explain the
aforementioned early
age at which their
organisations entered
the international arena
– being international
may be a way to bat
above one’s average
as a young SME. One
businesswomen in our
focus group explained
that she felt not having
a pre-existing reputation
in new markets was
refreshing relative to
Australia where what you had done before was overly
emphasised and valued.
Supply chain-driven motivations: The supply chain
of the organisations also impacts on the motivations to
internationalise. Key customers pull organisations into new
markets (27% of owner-operators, 24% for employees in
strategic roles) a lot more often than key suppliers (9% and
2% respectively). Pursuit of more efficient value chains (12%
and 10%) and also economies of scale (7% and 9%) do
“Australians are very
different in the way
they think. [Being
international means
we can] get on a plane
and go and present to a
room full of people and
they judge you on your
work on that day…”
motivate some expansions. Promisingly, a fifth (19%) of the
smaller owner-operators identify innovation as a motivation.
This is indicative of considerable ambition for such SMEs.
Different locations are driven by different
motivations: Figure 36 breaks up the organisational
motivations by first country entered, taking the four most
common locations – the USA, UK, New Zealand and
China. This offers much greater insight into the variation
in strategies and logics behind the initial moves. Initial
moves into the USA (cited in 77% of the instances where
organisations entered the USA first) and New Zealand (75%)
are much more likely to be driven by the pursuit of new
markets than entries into China (50%). Organisations often
follow key customers to the USA (41%), China (25%) and
the UK (20%), but rarely to New Zealand (9%). Both the USA
(26%) and China (17%) are seen as sources of innovation to
a much greater extent than the UK (11%) or New Zealand
(6%). Organisations seeking economies of scales look to
the biggest economies – the USA (15%) and China (13%) -
although when seeking to exploit a first mover advantage,
the USA is the most likely target market (18%). China’s big
lures look to be in the supply chain area, with a strong pull
from resource access (29%), efficient value chains (25%),
key suppliers (13%) and reduced costs (13%). Moves to
New Zealand are disproportionately motivated by a desire to
spread risk (19%), which may reflect the relative ease with
which such a move can be made. New Zealand is also viewed
(by 13%) as an avenue for reduced costs.
FIGURE 36: ORGANISATIONAL MOTIVATIONS BY FIRST COUNTRY ENTERED (%)
FIGURE 36: ORGANISATIONAL MOTIVATIONS BY FIRST COUNTRY ENTERED (%)
USA
UK
NZ
China
Seeking new markets
77
66
75
50
Following key customers
41
20
9
25
Credibility gained from being
international
28
6
16
33
Innovation
26
11
6
17
Being approached by an overseas client
23 17 25 29
Exploiting first mover advantage
18
6
6
4
An unexpected opportunity prompted
engagement
15 14 9 13
Accessing resources
15
11
6
29
Pursuing economies of scale
15
6
9
13
Following key competitors 13 3 13 13
Building efficient value chains
8
9
9
25
Following key suppliers 8 6 6 13
Spreading risk
5
6
19
0
Building staff capabilities
5
6
3
13
Reducing Costs 3 0 13 13
Seeking equipment
0
0
0
4
Percentage of respondents entering this
country first
14 12 11 9
Note: Respondents could identify >1 motivation
Note: Respondents could identify >1 motivation
35
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Internationalisation is about more
than the initial step. Our findings
show Australia’s international
businesswomen have piloted
organisations into a large number
of locations. The rise of Asia –
especially, but not exclusively,
China – continues.
Global footprint: As Figure 37 shows, just over half
(51%) of the women-owned organisations in our sample
have already expanded to 5 or more countries, with 24%
in 10+ foreign markets. The organisations employing
women in strategic roles are more advanced along their
internationalisation paths, with 61% in 10+ countries.
Global footprints take time: A great deal of this
variation is the result of the different time in international
arena between the two groups. As Figure 38 shows, 79%
of the organisations who internationalised 5+ years ago
are now in 5 or more countries, while among those who
internationalised in the past 5 years, 59% are in less than 5
markets. Internationalisation takes time. A surprising 11% of
the organisations in our sample who internationalised in the
past 5 years have already managed to reach 10+ markets.
Locational priorities: When asked the most important
international location in which they operate, our sample
was clear that there are two dominant destinations –
China and the USA.
6. Scope of International Expansion
FIGURE 37: NUMBER OF COUNTRIES (%)
FIGURE 37: NUMBER OF COUNTRIES (%)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10+
8
16
11
12
8
2
7
8
2
24
1
5
7
4
9
6
4
1
1
61
Strategic employees
Owner-operators
FIGURE 28: NUMBER OF YEARS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS (%)
25 + years
15 - 24 years
10 - 14 years
4 - 9 years
< 3 years
4
17
18
24
37
39
20
17
18
6
Strategic employees
Owner operators
FIGURE 38: NUMBER OF COUNTRIES (%)
FIGURE 38: NUMBER OF COUNTRIES AND TIME TAKEN TO INTERNATIONALISE (%)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10+
16
17
13
13
16
1
7
7
0
11
1
8
8
6
8
5
5
5
1
55
5 + years ago
In past 5 years
FIGURE 38: NUMBER OF COUNTRIES AND TIME TAKEN TO INTERNATIONALISE (%)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10+
16
17
13
13
16
1
7
7
0
11
1
8
8
6
8
5
5
5
1
55
5 + years ago
In past 5 years
36
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Taken as a whole, a third of our internationalised organisations (34%) indicated China was
most important (see Figure 39), followed by the USA (23%).
11
Among the employees in
strategic roles, China (40%) was listed #1 twice as often as the USA (20%), with no other
country registering more than 4% of the sample. Within the female owner-operators, views
were more evenly split, with the USA (26%) and China (24%) taking first and second place,
and the UK (9%) and Japan (6%) the priority of a small number of women.
FIGURE 39: MOST IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL MARKETS (%)
FIGURE 39: MOST IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL MARKETS (%)
All international
Owner-operators
Strategic employees
China
34
24
40
USA
23
26
20
UK
7
9
4
Japan
4
6
4
New
Zealand
4 3 4
Singapore 3 2 4
India 3 2 4
Again, these results are echoed when the data are broken down by time overseas
(see Figure 40). Firms who internationalised recently are evenly split between the
USA (26%) and China (24%), while those who have operated internationally for
5+ years, lean more towards China (36%).
FIGURE 40: MOST IMPORTANT MARKET BY TIME OVERSEAS (%)
FIGURE 40: MOST IMPORTANT MARKET BY TIME OVERSEAS (%)
Internationalised
in past 5 years
Internationalised
5+ years ago
China
24
36
USA 26 22
UK
7
8
Singapore
7 2
New Zealand
5
3
Philippines
4 1
Japan
3
6
37
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Regional priorities: When asked the same question
with regard to the most important region, Asia
comfortably wins out. As Figure 41 shows, Asia
was cited by 29% of all respondents, 23% of
owner-operators, and 32% of employees in
strategic roles. A further (12-15%) specifically
identified North and Eastern Asia, and 7-12%
South-East Asia. In total, Asia in some form
is the regional #1 for just over half (52%) of
the internationally-active respondents. The
Americas (either North America specifically,
or the region more generally), was indicated
by around 27% of the internationally-active
respondents, with owner-operators more
America-focussed (30%) than their employed
counterparts (24%). Europe and Oceania trailed
considerably. These rankings were consistent across
those who have internationalised recently and those
who first ventured abroad more than 5 years ago.
FIGURE 41: MOST IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL REGION (%)
FIGURE 41: MOST IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL REGION (%)
All
international
Owner-
operators
Strategic
employees
Asia
29
23
32
North & Eastern Asia (e.g. Greater China,
Koreas, Japan)
14
15
12
North America
13
18
11
The Americas
13
12
13
South-East Asia 9 7 12
Europe
6
8
4
Oceania 6 6 4
38
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
International expansion is not a
sound business strategy in and of
itself. It needs to reap rewards in
terms of meeting some organisational
objectives. The evidence from these
Australian businesswomen is very
positive on this front.
Operating internationally has delivered considerable growth
in sales, employment and performance. These returns appear
to grow over time: Australia can expect an even greater
positive economic impact in the medium term.
As Figure 42 shows, when asked to rate (on a 7 point scale)
the success of their internationalisation along a range of
measures, the mean scores are consistently in the positive
realm (above 4). The
most highly rated
impacts are on the
organisation’s image,
overall strategic
position, improved
competitiveness
and upgrades in
staff capabilities.
The employees
in strategic roles
awarded considerably
higher scores on each dimension of success,
although, as Figure 43 indicates, much of this may be the
result of the longer time these employees’ organisations have
operated internationally.
7. International Expansion Success
“A global market is a lot
more exciting because you
can look at other markets
and see what they’re
doing there and apply it
elsewhere, so there’s a lot
more on offer.”
FIGURE 42: RATING OF SUCCESS FROM INTERNATIONALISATION
FIGURE 42: RATING OF SUCCESS FROM INTERNATIONALISATION
Note: These measures are mean scores on a 7 point Likert scale from “Strongly Disagree”=1 to “Strongly Agree”=7. Bolded
pairs indicate a statistically significant difference (99% level) between the Owner-operators and Employees in strategic
roles.
Our international operations… All
international
(Mean)
Owner-
operators
(Mean)
Strategic
employees
(Mean)
… are very profitable.
5.11
4.72
5.51
… have generated a high volume of sales
4.97
4.41
5.50
… achieved rapid growth 4.80 4.37 5.17
have improved our competitiveness
5.60
5.22
5.97
have strengthened our overall strategic
position
5.96 5.72 6.20
… have led to increased innovation 5.47 5.56 5.48
… have improved the capabilities of our staff
5.51
5.29
5.74
Internationalisation has had a positive effect
on our organisation's image
6.13 6.05 6.26
Note: These measures are mean scores on a 7 point Likert scale from “Strongly Disagree”=1 to “Strongly Agree”=7. Bolded
pairs indicate a statistically significant difference (99% level) between the Owner-operators and Employees in strategic roles.
Success keeps coming: Figure 43 also shows, organisations
who have operated internationally for 5 or more years
report significantly higher success from their ventures,
most noticeably on the more traditional measures such as
profitability, sales volumes and growth. This is consistent
with the empirical evidence globally on the typical impact
of internationalisation of firms.
12
The early stages inevitably
involve greater costs and uncertainty, as the organisation
faces a steep learning curve and establishment costs. Over
time the benefits kick in, as these data clearly show. Again,
with so many of the women-owned organisations in our
survey in the early stages of the internationalisation journey,
the most substantial rewards should be still to come.
39
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Sales success: The evidence on foreign sales as a percentage
of total sales reinforces this point about the likely upswing
in a payoff from international expansion. Over a quarter
(27%) of the organisations who internationalised 5+ years
ago now make more than 75% of their sales offshore (see
Figure 44), and only a quarter make 10% or less. For more
recent international entrants – those who internationalised
in the last five years – 16% have moved very quickly into
international markets, and are above 75% foreign sales.
Most are still building an international client base – 41% are
still at 10% or less in foreign sales.
Foreign sales growth: Operating internationally is not
easy. As Figure 45 shows, almost half (47%) of the owner-
operators report foreign sales growth over the past 12
months of less than 10%. Indeed, 9% of these businesses
experienced a foreign sales decline. This is not simply a
reflection of the smaller size of these organisations. The
much larger organisations employing women in strategic
roles actually report poorer numbers, with 55% experiencing
less than 10% foreign sales growth. On the other hand, 16%
of the owner-operators more than doubled their foreign
sales, as did 4% of the firms employing women in strategic
roles. This should not be seen as warning about the risks of
internationalisation per se. As Figure 45 also reports, total
sales growth mirrored the foreign sales data quite closely.
There is a likely positive relationship between sales success in
these two arenas. The very strong expansionary path of some
of the women-owned organisations is also apparent here,
with 19% more than doubling their sales in the past year,
and over a third (35%) boosting sales by at least 40%.
FIGURE 43: RATING OF SUCCESS FROM INTERNATIONALISATION BY TIME OVERSEAS
FIGURE 43: RATING OF SUCCESS FROM INTERNATIONALISATION BY TIME OVERSEAS
Note: These measures are mean scores on a 7 point Likert scale from “Strongly Disagree”=1 to “Strongly Agree”=7. Bolded
pairs indicate a statistically significant difference (99% level) between the more recent and 5+ years ago groups.
Our international operations…
Internationalised
in past 5 years
(Mean)
Internationalised
5+ years ago
(Mean)
… are very profitable
4.60
5.30
… have generated a high volume of sales
4.17
5.24
… achieved rapid growth
4.30
4.99
have improved our competitiveness
5.27
5.69
have strengthened our overall strategic position 5.58 6.11
… have led to increased innovation
5.17
5.63
… have improved the capabilities of our staff 5.21 5.64
Internationalisation has had a positive effect on our
organisation's image
5.93
6.23
Note: These measures are mean scores on a 7 point Likert scale from “Strongly Disagree”=1 to “Strongly Agree”=7. Bolded
pairs indicate a statistically significant difference (99% level) between the more recent and 5+ years ago groups.
FIGURE 44: FOREIGN SALES AND % OF
TOTAL SALES BY TIME INTERNATIONALISED
FIGURE 44: FOREIGN SALES AND % OF TOTAL SALES BY TIME INTERNATIONALISED
0
0.1 - 10
10.1 - 25
26 - 50
51 - 75
76-99
100 %
1
40
13
20
10
10
6
6
19
15
23
12
24
3
5+ years ago
In past 5 years
FIGURE 44: FOREIGN SALES AND % OF TOTAL SALES BY TIME INTERNATIONALISED
0
0.1 - 10
10.1 - 25
26 - 50
51 - 75
76-99
100 %
1
40
13
20
10
10
6
6
19
15
23
12
24
3
5+ years ago
In past 5 years
FIGURE 45: SALES GROWTH OVER PAST YEAR – FOREIGN AND TOTAL (%)
FIGURE 45: SALES GROWTH OVER PAST YEAR FOREIGN AND TOTAL (%)
Sales
growth
(%)
Owner-operators
internationally engaged
Strategic employees -
internationally engaged
Foreign
Total
Foreign
Total
<0
9 8 9 10
0
22
16
20
17
0.1-9.9
16
14
26
25
10-19.9
21 16 16 20
20-29.9
5
3
14
9
30-39.9
5
8
3
4
40-99.9 8 16 9 11
100+
16
19
4
4
40
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Early wins drive sales growth: While stepping into the international
arena for the first time means starting from scratch, there is scope
to boost sales substantially off a low base in the early years. Figure
46 reflects this, as it shows that those women whose organisations
internationalised in the past five years reported some of the highest
growth rates in foreign sales. Almost a quarter (24%) had more than
doubled sales in the past years, and a further 14% have at least
40% foreign sales growth. There is a clear positive spillover
effect from internationalisation for these businesses, with
over half (52%) experiencing total annual sales growth
(i.e. foreign plus domestic) over 40+%. Of course, such
high numbers are difficult to sustain in percentage
terms as the organisation’s sales base grows. Figure
46 shows lower sales growth for the businesses who
internationalised more than five years ago. Most
(51%) grew total sales by between 0.1 and 19.9%
over the past year, while roughly a quarter (26%)
were stagnant or experiences a sales decline. These
numbers are paralleled in the foreign sales growth
data. It may be that these businesses have picked
most of the low hanging fruit after five years, and
are now tackling tougher new markets. Operating
across multiple locations also tends to put pressure
on organisational structures. The needs of these
middle aged international firms should not be ignored
by policy makers and support agencies. Sustaining growth
and handling the transition to a more complex multinational
organisational structure can reap substantial gains for
organisations and the economy more generally.
FIGURE 46: SALES GROWTH OVER PAST YEAR – FOREIGN AND TOTAL (%)
FIGURE 46: SALES GROWTH OVER PAST YEAR FOREIGN AND TOTAL (%)
Sales
growth
(%)
Internationalised
in past 5 years
Internationalised
5+ years ago
Foreign
Total
Foreign
Total
<0
5
6
11
11
0
22
19
19
15
0.1-9.9
12
7
25
26
10-19.9
10
4
24
25
20-29.9 10 7 7 4
30-39.9
3
6
4
6
40-99.9
14
26
6
8
100+ 24 26 4 5
41
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Sales growth not mirrored by employment growth:
Sales growth does not necessarily flow through to
employment growth, at least not immediately. As Figure
47 shows, most of the internationally-engaged women-
owned businesses are doing more with the same number
of staff. More than half (56%) made no change to
headcount over the past 12 months. Only 19% increased
their workforce by more than 10%. Many of the larger
organisations that employed women in strategic roles
(30%) are actually doing more with less, as they cut staff
numbers. While operating internationally is certainly
delivering sales growth for most firms, pressures for
efficiency curtail the flow-on effects to employment
growth. It may also be that there are skills gaps with
respect to these businesses’ international business needs.
In the third annual survey we will ask additional questions
about any hurdles organisations might be facing in the
labour market for internationally capable hires.
FIGURE 47: GROWTH IN NUMBER
OF EMPLOYEES OVER PAST YEAR (%)
FIGURE 47: GROWTH IN NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES OVER PAST YEAR (%)
<0
0
0.1-9.9
10-19.9
20-29.9
30-39.9
40-99.9
100+ %
7
56
17
5
4
1
5
4
30
26
19
4
6
4
6
6
Strategic employees
Owner operators
FIGURE 47: GROWTH IN NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES OVER PAST YEAR (%)
<0
0
0.1-9.9
10-19.9
20-29.9
30-39.9
40-99.9
100+ %
7
56
17
5
4
1
5
4
30
26
19
4
6
4
6
6
Strategic employees
Owner operators
42
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Figure 48 does indicate that the more recently
internationalised organisations experience an employment
boost, with 31% increasing their staff numbers by 10%
or more.
Expansion intentions: While internationalisation clearly
brings challenges (see the Section 8 for further discussion),
the women we surveyed are keen to continue expansion.
Approximately three quarters (74%) of the owner-operators
intend to expand their business into more countries in the
next 12 months, and none expect to operate in less markets
(see Figure 49). This proportion is slightly higher than in our
first survey when 70% has expansionary intentions. The
women employed in strategic roles were not as optimistic
about ongoing growth, but still more than a half (54%)
expected to enter new markets in the next year.
Our longitudinal panel also allows us to assess the follow
through on these intentions. Of the women in the first
survey who indicated an intention to expand, 60% did so.
Interestingly, 18% of those who expected no such
expansion did end up in more markets. This does speak to
the often serendipitous nature of business growth and the
capacity of these women to respond to opportunities that
unexpectedly arise.
Finally, it is worth remembering that for many business
owners and employees there are also intrinsic personal
benefits from operating internationally.
FIGURE 48: GROWTH IN NUMBER OF
EMPLOYEES BY TIME INTERNATIONALISED (%)
FIGURE 48: GROWTH IN NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES BY TIME INTERNATIONALISED (%)
<0
0
0.1-9.9
10-19.9
20-29.9
30-39.9
40-99.9
100+ %
11
44
15
7
6
0
9
9
22
40
18
5
5
3
4
3
5+ years ago
In past 5 years
FIGURE 48: GROWTH IN NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES BY TIME INTERNATIONALISED (%)
<0
0
0.1-9.9
10-19.9
20-29.9
30-39.9
40-99.9
100+ %
11
44
15
7
6
0
9
9
22
40
18
5
5
3
4
3
5+ years ago
In past 5 years
FIGURE 49: INTERNATIONALISATION INTENTIONS (%)
FIGURE 49: INTERNATIONALISATION INTENTIONS (%)
We are seeking to…
All international
Owner-
operators
Strategic
employees
Expand the number of countries in which we
operate
60 74 54
Maintain the number of countries in which we
operate
39 26 44
Reduce the number of countries in which we
operate
1
0
2
“If I was doing this for the
money I would be doing
something completely
different. I’m not doing it
for the money, I’m doing
it to establish something
which has never been
done before. ”
Women face considerable barriers
as they make the leap into foreign
markets, and as they continue
expanding their international
interests. Female owner-operators
consistently rate more barriers as
substantially hindering their efforts
than their employed counterparts.
There are also substantive differences between the issues
highlighted by each group. Among the most substantial are:
the high $A, difficulty locating a suitable distributor, red tape
issues in establishing foreign operations, a lack of resources
to cover the investment timeframe (especially relative to the
costs), and a lack of alternative sources of capital.
Figure 50 identifies those barriers women indicate have been
most substantial. We have broken these up between external
risks, knowledge constraints, procedural challenges, and
resource barriers.
The most common issue that Australian businesswomen
indicate has substantially hindered their internationalisation
efforts is the high value of the Australian dollar. Almost half
(45.8%) of the women employed in strategic roles rate this
as a major hindrance, as do about a third (35.9%) of the
owner-operators. This external risk was also the number
one barrier identified for Australian international businesses
generally in the recent Australian International Business
Survey report. The strategic employees also see currency risk
and strong overseas competition as considerable constraints
to growth. These issues do not rate as highly with the owner
operators. This may reflect that the owner-operators are
typically in a smaller number of countries, and perhaps also
in more niche markets, thus exposing them to less currency
variability and fewer aggressive competitors. With recent
depreciation in the Australian dollar, at least against the US
dollar, this external barrier may have weakened.
8. Barriers to International Growth
FIGURE 50: MOST IMPORTANT BARRIERS TO DOING INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS (%)
FIGURE 50: MOST IMPORTANT BARRIERS TO DOING INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS (%)
Hindered
Owner-
operators
Strategic
employees
EXTERNAL RISKS
High value of the Australian dollar 35.9 45.8
Risk from variation in exchange rates
20.7
35.8
Strong overseas competition 18.1 30
KNOWLEDGE
Locating a suitable distributor or distribution channels 33.6 21.5
Lack of transparency in host market business practices
20.0
28.7
PROCEDURAL
Documentation and red tape required to establish operations
32.7
31.2
Transportation costs and shipping arrangements
28.1
18.1
Tariff barriers to exports
27.1
21.7
Nontariff barriers, e.g. product certification 20.7 24.0
RESOURCES
Lack of resources to cover period of time needed to recover
investments
31.3
25.3
Lack of alternative sources of capital 29.8 7.5
Lack of local banks with adequate international expertise
29.6
4.0
Reluctance of bank/financial institutions to fund expansion 28.9 12.5
High costs of establishing international operations
27.2
26.5
Note: Respondents rated each barrier on a 7-point scale from 1= “did not hinder” to 7= “hindered enormously”. On the above
Figure “Hindered (%)” captures respondents rating a barrier “6” or “7”. Scores in italics fall outside the top 10 most substantial
barriers encountered by that segment of women.
Note: Respondents rated each barrier on a 7-point scale from 1= “did not hinder” to 7= “hindered enormously”. On the
above Figure “Hindered (%)” captures respondents rating a barrier “6” or “7”. Scores in italics fall outside the top 10
most substantial barriers encountered by that segment of women.
44
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Different groups experience different barriers:
Owner-operators more frequently rate the challenge of
locating distributors as a sizeable barrier, while the
strategic employees report greater concern with the
transparency of business practices in host markets.
This demonstrates the somewhat different
phases of internationalisation between
these groups. The owner-operators are
still overcoming knowledge gaps so as
build a network of reliable distributors.
Meanwhile, the strategic employees
appear more occupied with how to
manage such relationships day-to-day
and compete on a more even footing.
On the procedural front, both groups
battle with red tape and documentation
issues when setting up operations in new
locales. Owner-operators also feel hindered
by shipping arrangements and transport
costs and tariff barriers, while the strategic
employees more frequently raise non-tariff
barriers, such as product certification.
Accessing resources is constraining growth:
With respect to resource constraints, both groups feel
hindered by the high costs of establishing international
operations, and the timeframes required to cover such
outlays and recover investments. There is very high
divergence on more specific financing issues, with owner-
operators rating lack of alternative sources of capital, lack
of local banks with international expertise, and financial
institutions unwillingness to fund internationalisation efforts
as major hurdles to growth. In contrast, strategic employees
rarely rate this issue highly. We also reported this discrepancy
in our inaugural Report. Our concern that this may be
an ongoing obstacle for women-owned businesses and/
or internationalising SMEs led us to include more specific
questions on this issue in the second survey. These are
reported in the following section.
45
Women, global trade and what it takes to succeed
Life doesn’t get easier: Our longitudinal panel also allows
us to track changes in perceptions of barriers over the past 12
months. The expectation would be that internationalisation
would become easier for any given businesswoman through
experiential learning, mentoring, and support networks.
The survey results indicate the opposite to be the case,
however. When comparing the ratings given on this year’s
survey versus last year’s, on only seven of the 31 barriers
tracked did more women rate the issues as a lower hindrance
than a higher hindrance. Figure 51 shows the top five most
improved barriers (i.e. those that were perceived as lower)
and the five deteriorated barriers. There was a 30 percentage
point gap between those who rated the risk of losing money
selling abroad lower and those who rated it higher. Of the
barriers consistently ranked a significant hindrances, only
high establishment costs was perceived by more women as
declining as a hurdle.
In contrast, some of the most deteriorated barriers were
already on the radar as common hindrances. Lack of
alternative sources of capital
was rated as a more
substantial hindrance this
year by 52% of the tracked
respondents compared to last
year, while only 16% gave
it a lower rating. Ongoing
problems accessing capital
(discussed in the Section 9),
may be behind the emergence
of insufficient production
capacity as a barrier to greater
international successs.
Despite the efforts of
networks such as Women in
Global Business (see Section
11), our longitudinal evidence
does point to ongoing
challenges for Australian
businesswomen as they
attempt to grab international
opportunities. One owner-
operator did have some
positive advice to offer.
FIGURE 51: TOP 5 MOST IMPROVED AND WORSENED BARRIERS (%)
FIGURE 51: TOP 5 MOST IMPROVED AND WORSENED BARRIERS (%)
Difference between
hindrance rating
between surveys
(% who reported
lower)
IMPROVED BARRIERS
Risk of losing money by selling abroad
30
Cultural differences
23
Political instability in a destination country 21
High costs of establishing international operations
19
Language differences
8
DETERIORATED BARRIERS
Lack of alternative sources of capital
-36
Locating a suitable supplier or supply channels
-32
Nontariff barriers, e.g. product certification -31
Transportation costs and shipping arrangements
-25
Insufficient production capacity in your organisation
-18
“There are numerous
roadblocks to anything
you do in international