Companies must stay alert to shifting patterns of global trade

The emerging opportunities for Omani businesses in international markets are immense. To help existing and potential Omani exporters, as well as the wider business community, take advantage of everything the international market has to offer, Ithraa has organised Oman Export Week 2019 (OEW19) during October 27-31 at the Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre.
In the lead up to this event we are interviewing OEW19 workshop presenters, giving them the chance to preview their workshop themes.
So, in no more than 30 seconds, tell us your elevator pitch. Who are you and what do you do.
Hello, I’m Angela Hobbs (pictured), an innovator and entrepreneur, currently developing a health and well-being product. In addition, I have my own consultancy Wilkinson Hall, supporting start-ups for sustainable business growth.
Can you tell us about your OEW19 workshop and what can attendees expect to learn from the session?
Attendees will discover how to design and develop a new product and bring it to market. During the workshop, we will explore the importance of human centred design, how to develop an investment strategy and the need to prototype. Each participant will be part of a virtual start-up company during the workshop, which will culminate in a dynamic 5-minute pitch to your fellow attendees. You will not just learn how to be an innovator and entrepreneur — you’re going to be one — an exciting Oman based start-up with a product focused on global success.
Do you think there is an awakening going on with start-ups and small businesses? They’re starting to see there are opportunities out there. How can we encourage people who don’t see themselves as exporters, but have the potential?
The start-up trend continued to escalate in 2018 when more than 660,000 new businesses were registered in the UK alone — this is not an isolated trend it is a global one. Technology, connectivity and disruptive business models are generating exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs to create their own success stories across different industries and markets worldwide.
How can a small business know when it’s ready to export? What are the boxes they need to tick before taking the plunge?
Firstly, identify the business opportunities, what size is today’s target market for your product and where is the potential for growth? Who are the market leaders and what differentiates your offer? What are your barriers to market entry and what regulations should you be aware of? Identifying these elements will enable today’s Omani entrepreneurs to create competitive advantage for international trade. Small businesses need to combine design thinking with business strategy to identify export opportunities and enable scale up.
How do you see global trading patterns changing in the future?
Technological change is disrupting traditional business models and innovators can benefit from new ways of working on a global scale. In an uncertain economic and socio-political world, companies must stay alert to shifting patterns of global trade.
Do you think overseas business leads to fresh ideas and innovation, helping upgrade products and services?
Nearly 20 years ago, Jonas Ridderstråle, and Kjell Nordström published their inspiring book, Funky Business — Talent Makes Capital Dance, they wrote: “The future cannot be predicted — it has to be created. Either you see things happen or you make them happen. ‘‘Talented people with sustainable uniqueness drive change on a global scale. International start-ups can create their own success stories to drive innovation and inspire entrepreneurs on a global scale.
You only have so long to capture a potential customer’s attention and even less before you lose it! So you have to get straight to the point. What advice would you give small firms trying to tell their story in a new market?
Begin with why — why have you introduced this product, why will it improve lives and why will your customers want to buy it? Your story should demonstrate your products’ uniqueness and potential for global reach in the first 30 seconds.
What opportunities in terms of sectors and markets are there for Omani businesses in the emerging markets of Asia and Africa?
Health and well-being products that have the capacity to capture data continue to attract high levels of investment on a global scale.
What advice would you give a founder or CEO who’s just starting their exporting journey?
The shifting sands of global trade heighten the need to understand what your potential customers want tomorrow and what product can you produce before those customers know they can’t live without it? Who knew that the world needed Alexa when it was launched in 2014, latest results revealed sales of over 100 million devices? Develop a robust export strategy, what external partners will support your acceleration and do you have the skills and experience in your team to make it happen? Align market needs with global trends and find your niche.
Can you share with us what you believe will be the top three exporting trends over the next few years?
n An increasing need for environmentally positive products that can be produced in a resource-efficient manner and recycled in an environmentally oriented way will become increasingly important.
n The environment of international trade is constantly changing —cooperation between countries encourages globalisation. Countries will unite in collaborative working partnerships to manage restrictions and extend market reach.
n The ability to adapt to rapid technological developments, including the rise of robotics in manufacturing products for export.
About Oman Export Week
Oman Export Week 2019 is an unmissable event for those working or trading overseas. If you are thinking about taking your business international, or looking to expand your global foothold, then you need to be at OEW19 (October 27-31, 2019). In today’s current economic climate, it has never been more important to take advantage of trading internationally. What makes OEW19 even more brilliant? It’s free to attend! To register, visit events.ithraa.om