Australia’s ‘born global’ services exporters

‘Born Global’ firms are individuals and businesses that, from the beginning, pursue global rather than domestic opportunities. ‘Born Global’ services firms have a greater level of preparedness and capability to plan for and circumvent common exporting challenges.

The business acumen, competitiveness and innovation of Australian ‘Born Global’ service exporters are key factors that drive these businesses toward international markets. Some 83 per cent of ‘Born Global’ businesses find their first exporting experience as highly or moderately successful.

The success of ‘Born Global’ services exporters is focused around three common themes:

  • Developing in-market networks and strong competitiveness
  • Saving costs through scalable services and remote delivery; and
  • Global facing industries, limited regulatory barriers and operations in low risk markets.

These findings are from research commissioned by DFAT and undertaken between March and July 2020. The research sought to identify the experiences of born global services exporters, as well as barriers and factors that enable success in exporting.

‘Born Global’ service exporters share many of the challenges faced by other Australia exporters, such as time zones/distance, exchange rate, administration/red tape, and taxes. However, due to the characteristics of ‘Born Global’ business leaders, and as exporting was so intrinsic to the business, there was greater preparedness and capability to plan for and overcome them.

Industries in which ‘Born Global’ businesses tend to have strongest representation (tech, creative services and health services in particular) are by their nature, global facing, wherein thought-leadership, marketing and transacting predominantly takes place in a global context, with specific geographic location rarely a consideration.

Three key features of their success in developing business in global markets are:

  • Placing a strong priority on building and maintaining strong contacts and networks
  • Maintaining and delivering on high quality, unique and innovative service offers (considered one of the competitive advantages for Australian businesses operating globally); and
  • Having a shared cultural background and language skills.

COVID-19 negatively impacted a vast majority of ‘Born Global’ businesses through revenue, supply chain, finance, demand and travel restrictions. However, close to half of them (47 per cent) saw various opportunities as a result of COVID-19 and were preparing to exploit these.