Dynamic strategic business adviser Maarten de Jeu has a legendary career in international business, commercial real estate and financial services that sets a high standard of achievement. With an exceptional business education at the University of Oxford where he earned an MBA and ranked first in his class, de Jeu combines his multilingual skills with a deep knowledge of business and the financial industry. His international experience that encompasses a global business network throughout Europe and Asia as well as North America blends with his technical skills and an intense understanding of institutions and cultural settings around the world. The founder of SVM Business Advisory in 2012, de Jeu advises Fortune 100 executives in the financial and insurance sector, technology startups and Ultra High Net Worth individuals as well. His incisive logic and ability to assist clients with the decision-making process allows him to build highly effective teams with multidisciplinary and multicultural backgrounds.
The Leadership of Maarten De Jeu
As the Founder and Managing Director of SVM Advisory, a boutique business consulting firm with global outreach, he assists clients in developing sustainable solutions that obtain results. Guidance in building partnerships provides a unique strength for his company. Through it, Maarten de Jeu advises clients on highly sophisticated aspects of international business. His expertise in strategy, investment and acquisition, business improvement and entrepreneurship gives clients a competitive edge in a complex international marketplace. His prior experience in international enterprise includes his position as Aviva’s Director of Strategy & Corporate Development in the London office. At TVDK Management Consultants, he shared his expertise as the international strategy manager where his clients included Heinz, Sara Lee, ING and ABN AMRO. As the co-founder of SpeakUp®, a leading provider of ethics and compliance solutions in Europe, he advised publicly listed companies. A dedicated family man, ardent tennis enthusiast and civic-minded citizen, he maintains a busy schedule of activities. His work with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the Economic Club of Chicago, the Museum of Science & Industry, the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Dean’s International Council lets him share his expertise to benefit his community.
Relying on Expert Advice
With expertise in the international marketplace, Maarten de Jeu holds an eminent position in advising business owners about the vicissitudes that may await entry into unfamiliar territory. Running a successful business in the United States may encourage an owner to expand to a global stage, but de Jeu offers wise counsel that can help with decision-making. One of the first concerns that he recommends for consideration involves the cultural differences that can determine success or failure. He cautions that the process of getting to know local markets overseas takes a “significant investment of time and energy,” but an understanding of the culture requires it. Maarten de Jeu offers eight factors for consideration that may affect a business owner’s decision to pursue global expansion.
Committing to Quality
As the wisdom of either Will Rogers or Oscar Wilde points out, a first impression creates an indelible image that does not change. Knowledge of the American market may not apply to the international stage, and de Jeu recommends a focus on standardizing products to make them have consistently high quality overseas. Reputations can rise or fall on quality, and a manufacturing process that presents the “same high-quality goods every single time” can help ensure success.
An investment in time to learn a language can make a significant difference in the level of acceptance that an American company can expect in a foreign market. Aside from respecting cultural differences and customs which may not always attract attention, business owners can make an amazingly positive impression by knowing the local language. The challenge to expand linguistic ability may not appeal to residents of a country that speaks primarily only one language in an expanse of more than 3,000 miles. The largest European country has about the same area as a state in the Midwest, and each one has a unique language that they expect everyone to respect. American idioms do not always translate accurately into other languages, a situation that can lead to embarrassing outcomes. A sensitivity to the appropriateness of products can prevent a breach of etiquette as well. Maarten de Jeu recommends “conversing with local representatives” to obtain a “grasp of the business trends prevalent in an area.”
Developing Staying Power
A commitment to a long-term relationship appears obvious to potential clients who assess the value of supporting a new business. Maarten de Jeu contends that global expansions present tough challenges under the best of circumstances but become problematical in the absence of dedication. “Owners need to have a clear desire to export products internationally,” he states. Hiring local employees can provide an effective method of establishing dedication while the transfer of existing employees may not do so as well.
Considering Market Conditions
With a firm commitment to quality, owners need to accept the equal importance of product suitability. Where demand for a product justifies entry into a market, the lack of it predicts a certain absence of profitability. The choice of location needs careful selection, according to de Jeu. Along with the confirmation of suitability, owners must consider the competition that may already exist. If potential customers have access to similar products at a competitive or even a lower price, they have little or no motivation to make a change. As the lyrics of the Music Man aptly point out, “ya gotta know the territory” to predict the likely success of a product. An effective marketing strategy requires the analysis of product availability in a target area balanced against pricing considerations and potential acceptance of an imported product.
Following Accepted Business Practices
Maarten de Jeu cites the importance of a business plan as a guide to conducting operations in the United States or around the world. While some startups may succeed in the United States without a fully developed plan, he states that the intricacies of global expansion make it essential. “Businesses cannot progress,” he maintains, “in the absence of organization and business plans.” The clarity that a plan document provides can include the identification of where to find buyers, how to set up a branch in another country, local hiring practices, availability of raw materials for in-country manufacturing and other vital considerations. The need for strategic planning requires business owners to develop knowledge of a new market and apply standard business practices that can implement it.
Recognizing Import Regulations
In-depth knowledge of a country’s rules and regulations may exceed an owner’s interest or ability, but a lack of it does not excuse a failure to comply. The government regulations that impose taxes and control imports may seem stringent, and de Jeu recommends obtaining the advice of local counsel who may help expedite the “expansion and production process.”
Finding Funding for Expansion
From the vantage point of experience and history, Maarten de Jeu offers a perspective that helps business owners face the most vexing issues. Owners need to take the long view and understand that expansion globally takes time and requires a significant investment. The establishment of an international expansion requires sufficient capital to allow investment in “another country’s business market,” he states. Without adequate capital, owners may choose to seek investors or shareholders who can supply the funds that allow an expansion plan to go forward. Going global can provide an enjoyable and profitable venture when the right combination of “time, money, dedication and local market awareness” occurs simultaneously. The result can let an organization realize “the full potential of globalization” as it achieves significant revenue growth.
Remembering to Remain Flexible
Change may not always come easily to a determined business owner who strives to make every project remain within established guidelines. However, flexibility and the ability to adapt create a “vital part of business operations” in America or elsewhere, according to Maarten de Jeu. Business plans, marketing strategies and product design may change as circumstances dictate, and a willing acceptance of even “drastic changes” can allow a company to grow. By adapting to the existing market trends and the local culture, owners can find a balance between goals and the means to achieve them.