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Taking business international

LAS VEGAS -- "The world is getting very small," Greg DuMontier, president
and CEO of S&K Technologies, told a room of American Indian business
leaders attending an international market seminar during the 20th Annual
National Reservation Economic Summit and American Indian Business Trade
Fair. "Initially it was a scary thought. The attitude was, 'What are we
doing in international markets?' But it's a part of the pie. If you don't
pursue it, you're ignoring a large portion of that pie. If you do pursue
it, you will open a lot of doors."

DuMontier, who also serves as the vice chairman of the Native American
Contractors Association board of directors, was one of a half-dozen
speakers to take the podium at the Las Vegas Hilton and walk Native
entrepreneurs through the steps of breaking into the international market
and becoming a success overseas.

"Our mindset has always been reservation first, looking outside into the
U.S. second and then beyond the borders," DuMontier said. "But if you have
something that nobody else has, the international market represents a
unique opportunity that's not beyond your reach. The gaps are a lot
narrower than you think and it's a lot easier to do than you might think.
It's not easy, but it's not as difficult as you would think. It's there.
It's available and it's exciting."

The speakers, all well-versed in the nuances of working abroad, reviewed
the obstacles of getting started in fields such as banking and insurance to
determining if a particular country is the right fit for the services or
products being offered. They also gave advice on what to avoid and the
pitfalls and complexities of working outside the United States.

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For example, Charles Johnson, president of the Johnson Strategy Group, a
business planning and consulting firm, went through a step-by-step
presentation for entrepreneurs to follow when deciding whether an
international market is right for them. He advised potential investors to
personally visit the country under consideration, meet with local business
leaders and form a partnership to help things run more smoothly. If taking
this route, he suggested conducting interviews and doing extensive research
on an individual or firm, including background checks, before entering into
any financial agreement.

Johnson said the international market is currently ripe for Native business
leaders to jump in, but such a move requires adaptability. According to the
U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses are going global in
record numbers; and with 96 percent of the world's population and 67
percent of the world's purchasing power located outside of the United
States, it's an area of expansion for American businesses with huge
potential.

"Global trade is not a fad," Johnson explained. "You have to get your ducks
lined up; it can be a success, and the people here in Indian country have
skills, products and services more extensive than you can imagine."