To prepare your international adventure properly, ask yourself the right questions and talk to people who have done it all before: partners, customers, fellow exporters and experts.
BNP Paribas Fortis listens to the questions asked by international entrepreneurs and offers reliable advice. "A lot of exporting companies ask for our help when it's too late", Frank Haak, Head of Sales Global Trade Solutions, says.
Entrepreneurs with little export experience are often unaware of the bigger financial picture. So what do they need to take into account when they set up a budget for their export plans?
Frank Haak: "Budgeting and pricing are affected by a lot of crucial factors: working capital, currency exchange risks and currency interest, prefinancing, profit margins, insurance, import duties and other local taxes, competitor pricing and so on. We always advise customers or prospects to start from a worst-case scenario. Quite a few companies are insufficiently prepared for their first international adventure: they see an opportunity and they grab it, but quite often disappointment and a financial hangover are not far away.
Our experts have years of export experience and the BNP Paribas Group has teams around the world. This means that we can give both general and country-specific tips. Let's say a machine builder wants to design and manufacture a custom-made machine. We recommend including the machine's reuse value in the budget: can this machine still be sold if the foreign customer suddenly no longer wishes to purchase it or if export to that country becomes impossible due to a trade embargo or emergency situation?"
What type of companies can contact BNP Paribas Fortis for advice?
Frank Haak: "All types! Entrepreneurs are often hesitant to ask for advice. Sometimes they are afraid that it will cost them money. However, the right advice can save them a lot of money in the long run. For example, we recommend a letter of credit or documentary credit to anyone exporting goods to a foreign buyer for the first time. This product is combined with a confirmation by BNP Paribas Fortis to offer the exporter the certainty that it will receive payment when it presents the right documents and to assure the buyer that its goods or services will be delivered correctly."
The consequences of not seeking advice: what can an exporter do in case of non-payment without documentary credit?
Frank Haak: "If you are not receiving payment for your invoices, the counterparty's bank can be contacted in the hope that it advances the payment on the customer's behalf. However, we shouldn't be too optimistic in that respect: the chances of resolving the issue without financial losses are very slim. Once you have left your goods with customs, you usually lose all control over them. Hence the importance of good preparation: listen to and follow the advice of your bank and organisations such as Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT). It will protect you against a whole host of export risks."
BNP Paribas Fortis
- is the number one bank for imports (approx. 40% market share) and exports (approx. 25% market share) in Belgium (according to the statistics of the National Bank of Belgium): it offers advice/financing and can help you to discover new export markets through trade development;
- is proud that Belgium is one of the world's 15 largest export regions and is pleased to give exporters a leg up, for example by sponsoring the Flemish initiative ‘Leeuw van de Export’.
Source: Wereldwijs Magazine
Anatomie de l’entrepreneur
Naît-on avec une âme d’entrepreneur ? Si l’expérience, la maturité et la confiance peuvent développer nos ailes, il est plus facile d’avoir un kit de départ. Vous reconnaissez-vous dans ce portrait-type ?
Voici 10 talents ou qualités qui augurent une certaine prédisposition à mener son propre business avec fruit. Alors si vous y voyez votre reflet, vous pourriez fort bien vous hisser au sommet de la réussite !
A quoi ressemble l’entrepreneur idéal ?
En documentant vos décisions avec des chiffres et des faits, vous sensibiliserez mieux les personnes autour de vous.
- Motivé et concentré
Celui qui affiche sa motivation démontre d’un intérêt naturel pour les activités qu’il mène. Se fixer régulièrement des objectifs aide à atteindre les sous-buts fixés. C‘est ainsi que notre engagement dans le projet reste intact.
- Confiant et persévérant
Pour mener un projet à sa fin, il est nécessaire d’y croire jusqu’au bout et d’avoir une bonne dose de confiance en soi.
- Apprivoiser le risque
Avoir le courage de décider tout en pouvant faire la part des choses entre le risque nécessaire à l’innovation et les décisions impulsives qui ne nous mènent parfois nulle part.
- Niveau d’éthique élevé
Depuis toujours, parmi les gens qui ont réussi, la plupart ont une belle personnalité. Un entrepreneur pur jus sait que l’on n’a rien sans rien. Et il l’assume pleinement.
- Créatif et innovant
C’est ce qui permet aux entreprises de survivre. Innovez avec vos produits, vos services, vos processus. Vos clients et vos collaborateurs vont aimer cela.
Le succès ne tombe pas du ciel, du jour au lendemain. Il faut souvent travailler dur, affronter des défis, passer au-delà les difficultés, gérer le stress, accepter des retours en arrière.
Si vous croyez passionnément en votre projet et refusez d’abandonner, le succès vous attend ! Pour un entrepreneur, il n’y a jamais assez d’heures dans une journée.
Du charisme dans les rapports avec les influenceurs et avec les clients, c’est un ingrédient nécessaire aux relations durables et au succès dans les affaires.
L’environnement, les clients et la concurrence aussi, aujourd’hui, sont toujours changeants. D’où l’intérêt de pouvoir s’adapter en continu, condition essentielle au progrès.
(Source : www.globalmessaging.co.uk)
The Supply Chain of the future will be agile and responsible
Do you know about Supply21? This revolutionary Supply Chain designed by the consulting firm Proconseil claims to be "bolder, more respectful, and more connected." This is what it will look like.
Proconseil unveiled Supply21 at a conference in Paris at the end of January. This method, which is still at the concept stage, arrives at a time when 38% of companies are yet to consider how factories and logistics will work in the future. Some sectors are exceptions, however, and are proving to be pioneers in this area. One is the automotive sector, where 50% of companies are already adopting open innovation approaches. In agri-food, a similar proportion of companies are now starting to consider the factory of tomorrow.
What is Supply 21?
Supply 21 (an allusion to the 21st century) is presented as a "frame of reference enabling self-evaluation according to the three Ps (People, Planet and Profit), and is based on an ecosystem of engagement. The method, which is backed by David Gau of Proconseil, adopts a durable supply model that "is relevant to everyone, stays abreast of social, organisational and technological breakthrough innovations, and works collaboratively."
Modus operandi: Manon's story
The firm bases its description of the chain on an order for a custom-made fairphone (ethical smartphone) on a leasing contract:
"Manon receives three text messages informing her that the local factory is to start manufacturing her product. Using a 3D printer, the factory takes just two hours to manufacture the specific features of her product, assembling it with standard components. Like 70% of people from 7 to 99 years of age, Manon is glued to her mobile. She finds waiting unbearable. She chose the local factory herself, as it generates the smallest carbon footprint. Marc, who delivers products on foot for the social enterprise La tournée du dernier kilomètre, uses the QR code of the local shop to identify the phone to be delivered to Manon's address, and Manon finds out how to use her phone on its augmented reality app."
Though some aspects are well developed already, the model remains theoretical for now. On the basis of the first results, the observatory intends to extend its work to publish a new frame of reference by the end of 2017 with greater representation of the different sectors. A white paper has just been published detailing this tremendous new evolution in the Supply Chain. You can download it (in French or English) by filling in this form.
Belgium: bankruptcy rates fall in 2016
The number of companies going into bankruptcy in Belgium fell by 5% last year, for the first time in 6 years. Which sectors are reaping the benefits, and where do our neighbours stand?
Bankruptcy rates in Belgium have fallen to their lowest in six years, a study suggests (NL / FR). With the exception of the month of May, the number of bankruptcies fell consistently from January through to July, when the trend was at its most noticeable. In 2016, bankruptcy rates rose in Antwerp (+0.25%) and East Flanders (+15.99%). The overall drop in bankruptcy can be largely attributed to Wallonia (-13.9%).
The transport sector saw the largest drop in bankruptcy rates, (12.89%), followed by the business services sector (8.46%), construction (8.30%) and retail (7.82%). Almost one in five bankruptcies occurred in the catering sector, which suffered a total of 1,988 bankruptcies in 2016, the highest number since records began, up from 1,914 the previous year, dragging down the overall figures, which nonetheless remain promising.
Moreover, the federal government has implemented a number of plans to boost the economy, as Willy Borsus, Minister for SMEs, points out: "These include probationary clauses, occupational pensions, a plan for local shops and an administrative simplification plan, in addition to corporation tax reform." The federal government has also set aside a total budget of almost € 600 million for the current period up to 2020 (as part of the tax-shift budget for self-employed workers and SMEs).
France and the Netherlands lead the way
According to the Bank of France, the number of recorded bankruptcies fell by 8.0% by the end of December 2016. The construction and manufacturing sectors registered the most significant drops in the number of cumulative business failures. The agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors were most severely affected, but, on the whole, the French catering sector is faring better than its Belgian counterpart (-7.9%).
As for the Netherlands, in the wake of the economic rebound that was first recorded in 2014, the number of businesses going bankrupt has continued to fall, dropping to 15% (an 8-year low), and down almost 20% compared to the same period the previous year. Most of the bankruptcies declared by our northern neighbours involved financial organisations, followed by trade.
How to instil the start-up mind-set?
Although originally, hackathons were restricted to the small community of developers and geeks, the phenomenon has gathered momentum to become a real catalyst for agile innovation for companies.
Over the last few years, hackathons - contraction of the words "hack" (from "hack away") and "marathon" - have become commonplace. In practical terms, hackathons bring together various talents (entrepreneurs, developers, web designers, graphic designers, etc.) around the development of an IT project. Arranged into teams, the participants have a limited amount of time (from a few hours to a few days) to develop a prototype, a piece of software or an app on a given theme. To stimulate competition, the event generally finishes with the presentation of the results to a jury of experts and the selection of the winners. Intensity, co-creation and inventiveness are the buzzwords.
Not only for start-ups
In Belgium, it is estimated that since 2011 nearly 150 hackathons have taken place, a third of which were in 2017. A boom that can notably be explained by the growing interest from companies of all sizes and from all sectors, and even public institutions. And on the grounds that these development surges represent an excellent way of instilling innovation and agility specific to start-up companies. Whether they are internal (for employees only) or public, these events give an opportunity for experimenting with other ways of tackling a problem, finding solutions and putting them into practice. All while strengthening collaboration and team spirit. But it's more than developing a new product, it's an opportunity to think outside the box, as well as to give a boost to the digital transformation process. For large corporations, it's also an excellent lever for detecting and integrating the talent of tomorrow. So it's not by chance that hackathons are diversifying and becoming more professional.
All sectors are jumping in!
By adopting this type of event, big companies are seeking to connect to the ecosystem of digital start-ups. All sectors are doing it and there are countless examples... Thus, the 3rd BNP Paribas International Hackathon, which took place in 2017 across 10 international towns and cities, invited participants to improve the efficiency of banking products and services. Another example: "Hack my ride", arranged by the STIB (Brussels Intermunicipal Transport Company) in 2017 and dedicated to public transport, whose objective was to develop digital apps by using data published by the public body's open data platform. In 2018, Hack Belgium will hold its second event, devoted to the social issues of tomorrow. On the programme: 1,500 hackathonians united around 12 big challenges linked to various facets of society: energy, circular economy, employment, media, finance, education, healthcare, etc.
Maintaining the dynamic
Although "hackathons" or other "start-up weekends" are very good at stimulating innovation for companies, the real issue is maintaining the dynamic. Indeed, although it is crucial to orientate the event towards a tangible output, this is rarely fully achieved at the end of the hackathon. The company should therefore seize the winning project - or even other ideas brought to light during the competition - in order to integrate it into an internal innovative process. In collaboration with the participating team, the objective is to pursue the development of the prototype, to support it and to make it succeed. By way of example, the BNP Paribas International Hackathon gave the prizewinners the chance to be involved in the bank's acceleration programme, in order to follow the development of the prototype presented during the hackathon, with the aim of creating a solution deployed within the company or with customers.