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8 www. bus- ex. com March 10 Experts

Customer focus March 10 www. bus- ex. com 9 Experts Expanding abroad is a major growth opportunity, but it can also be a dangerous strategy. Expert advice is vital, but who can you trust? Becky Done navigates the minefield with the benefit of Jim MacDonald's experience J im MacDonald has been in the energy business for more than 20 years, over which time he has amassed numerous contacts and extensive experience in areas such as the Far East, Middle East, South America and Europe. He has an in- depth insight into each region's particular business landscape, gleaned over two decades- a map of cultural differences, economic patterns and commercial trends. Compare this knowledge with that of a young business considering overseas expansion for the first time and it is easy to see why many organisations will seek out expert guidance when considering their first move into unfamiliar territory. For the past decade, MacDonald's company, MacDonald Energy Projects, has been helping clients from the UK and Europe identify and secure tenders in the Middle Eastern marketplace. The company has established strong business partnerships in many Middle Eastern countries, including Oman, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, providing advice and assistance to help its clients identify good opportunities. Many Western companies wishing to expand are looking towards the Gulf region and in particular, to high-growth markets such as Oman and Qatar, where many opportunities await in the form of major infrastructure and economic development projects. But different cultures and business practices can make breaking into such markets challenging. All too often, organisations exit from their first foray overseas not much the wiser and considerably lighter of pocket. But this does not necessarily indicate that the organisation is unsuited to that marketplace; more likely, it is that they were inadequately prepared or poorly advised. MacDonald would agree, seeing the main challenge posed by expansion into new markets as being a lack of experience. " The biggest problem with a lot of companies is expansion in