So you think global markets are just for the big guys? Think again! The truth is, small companies can tap into one of the many rapidly emerging markets.

In fact, everything is global these days. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a player in the global market, a quick look at your web site analytics will show you that people from literally all around the world are attempting to connect with you.

Why leave those connections to chance? Small companies can capitalize on the benefits that emerging markets offer—and they can do it in a small way. According to a recent McKinsey Quarterly article, large multinational companies are discovering even global business can be extremely local. A recent analysis of China, for instance, revealed 22 distinct urban clusters.

A thorough understanding of the market, or markets, you are hoping to enter is critical. But understanding is not enough! That understanding must be nurtured and ultimately strengthened, through a culture of inclusion.

Let’s say you’re a U.S.-based company that is expanding to Brazil. Do you put a manager in place for your Brazilian operations from your U.S. operation or do you staff that position with a local national? Think about it. Who is more likely to understand the market?  Who is more likely to make sound product and service decisions?

To be successful you must be inclusive, that is, you must give up misplaced sentiments of ethnocentrism and seek to learn, really learn, about the native culture you hope to market to from the native culture you hope to market to. You can’t take a U.S.-centric approach.

Buffalo Wild Wings is one example of a small company that has made it big (and global) through a thorough understanding of the markets it enters. It’s all-local staff members provide important insights into the unique intricacies of the markets it enters. When the chain expanded to Canada, as a Forbes article pointed out, its all-local staff helped the restaurant “discover that northerners preferred Bloody Caesars to Bloody Marys…honey-garlic sauce over traditional buffalo (and) poutine—fries topped with curd cheese and brown gravy—to French fries.” Buffalo Wild Wings plan to take this same approach as it expands to Dubai.

To capture emerging markets, small businesses need to develop a highly engaged global workforce and mindset that understands:

§         Who their current customers are

§         Who their emerging customers are

§         What their current and emerging customers’ needs, values and preferences are

§         Why and how their customers access their services

§         How to communicate effectively with their customers

§         How to customize products and services based on demand

Do you think you have the knowledge, insight and ability to do that in a global market? You don’t. But members of that global market do. Reach out. Connect. Be inclusive.

Shirley Engelmeier is CEO of InclusionINC, a leading national workplace inclusion and diversity firm.