The International Entrepreneur Podcast

#6 Part 2: Europe with Hanns-Georg Schell and Theo Theodoulou

January 25, 2023 Kreston Global Season 1 Episode 6
#6 Part 2: Europe with Hanns-Georg Schell and Theo Theodoulou
The International Entrepreneur Podcast
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The International Entrepreneur Podcast
#6 Part 2: Europe with Hanns-Georg Schell and Theo Theodoulou
Jan 25, 2023 Season 1 Episode 6
Kreston Global

In part 2 of our sixth episode of this series, we revisit Kreston's European business arm with Hans and Theo to share some personal client experience, insights into the interpreneurial mindset in practice, and the pitfalls to look out for when starting your global expansion.  Sadly, this is the last episode in the International Entrepreneur Podcast series – at least for now – but it’s been a great journey and thanks for listening.

Link to the full Kreston Global report can be found here:

Written, hosted, edited & produced by Infinite Global:

Show Notes Transcript

In part 2 of our sixth episode of this series, we revisit Kreston's European business arm with Hans and Theo to share some personal client experience, insights into the interpreneurial mindset in practice, and the pitfalls to look out for when starting your global expansion.  Sadly, this is the last episode in the International Entrepreneur Podcast series – at least for now – but it’s been a great journey and thanks for listening.

Link to the full Kreston Global report can be found here:

Written, hosted, edited & produced by Infinite Global:

Kreston Ep 6 Part 2

Hannah Robinson: [00:00:00] Hello. And welcome to Kreston Global's, the International Interpreneur Podcast.

Hannah Robinson: I am Hannah, your host, and we're back again with Han and Theo to continue our discussion around Kreston Global's Interpreneur report. If you've just joined us as a new listener, I'd recommend going back and listening to last week's part one, to get the full effect about Interpreneurs take on the report.

But if you want to stick with part two for now, there's still plenty to take away and put to use from this episode. So let's jump straight. , what from your perspective is the defining mindset of the [00:01:00] Interpreneurs that you've worked with? What is it that makes 'em so successful as people? 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well, uh, thinking about the mindset of Interpreneurs, I, I work with, I, I always see that our, that they are willing to, to take risks.

Um, but they had to remain calculator in terms of the consequences of failure. Uh, the risk couldn't be so higher that they endangered other group companies. . But, um, at once, the company and the Interpreneur has decided, um, for example, on, on a sales location in particular, the rule was, don't spill with the beans make due because money that you lose if you, you fail.

that can be earned again, but time that passes because you act too hesitantly, doesn't come back and it's time to market, which really counts, uh, today. And that's what I, what what I, what I, um, [00:02:00] what I sh uh, saw that, uh, they, they always take, uh, a huge risk, but it has to be Cal level. And then they go, go in and, uh, and, and to, to.


Theo Theodoulou: what has been the defining mindset of Interpreneurs that I have worked with it? Um, it really varies, I would say, from generation to generation, especially having to deal with, uh, Interpreneurs, um, and generations that, um, overall I see there's a common, uh, um, mindset on certain, uh, aspects, especially when it comes to here being imaginative or, uh, visionary and obviously focusing on the bigger.

Um, but again, it depends on the, on the, on the generation and whether they're willing to take the risk or not. I think the, the younger generations, especially generation, um, x um, and sorry, generation Z, um, does not willing to take, um, the risk compared to, uh, older generations. Um, but I think overall the mindset, [00:03:00] uh, on, on certain aspects, uh, especially unsuccessful Interpreneurs is very similar.

Again, as I said, being. Focusing on the bigger picture and being open to ideas and suggestions, but not being very practical, I would 

Hannah Robinson: say. And moving back to a wider view, how has the Interpreneur landscape evolved since you first entered the workplace yourselves? Do you see more Interpreneurs than when you started your career or fewer?

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well, thinking about, uh, the Interpreneurs landscape and the, since, since i, I entered the, the profession and how it changed, um, I, I have to say that I entered the profession 30 years. So, uh, that's a long, long period of time, and I think a lot has changed since then, especially in terms of, of education. And due to globalization, the, the current generation of Interpreneurs has enjoyed a different education than, than the generation before.

Than, than than China. My generation, um, today, they, they stay abroad as part of their [00:04:00] studies, um, that that's common. And as a result, today's Interpreneurs are much better prepared for international work and the challenges that, that come with it. In the past, there was no internet or mobile communication and, and traveling was not so easy as it's today.

Um, I remember, um, uh, a, a talk with, uh, an Interpreneur about, um, his. First international investments in, in the 1970, uh, 1970s. And, and he told me when he started to, to invest in, in Brazil, he was, um, out of any contact with, with Germany for weeks. Cause he was, uh, in, in, yeah, in, in, in the. In the rainforest and, uh, was, was looking for, for a good location for, for his, his factory.

And, uh, today it's, it's totally different. Uh, Interpreneurs can be reached [00:05:00] 24 7. Around the world and, and have access to, to company data wherever they are. And, uh, I think that's on one hand great advantage for Interpreneurs to be in contact and stay in contact with, with their, their companies. But it's also a burden.

The pressure increases due to, to constant availability, uh, of, of the Interpreneurs. But, uh, yes, this, I think this, this education and globalization. Makes it easier for, for foreign investments, uh, than it was, uh, when I started profession. 

Theo Theodoulou: So how has the Interpreneur landscape evolved since I've entered the 

Hanns-Georg Schell: workplace?

I've entered 

Theo Theodoulou: the workplace approximately 15 years ago. Um, I think, uh, the tremendous 

Hanns-Georg Schell: development in technology has assisted the, 

Theo Theodoulou: uh, the landscape for entre. Um, again, um, the, the big data, the information availability, business intelligence, uh, these are all, uh, things [00:06:00] that you wouldn't have in decades ago.

Now it's acc accessible instantly you are, uh, accessible instantly. So there's so, so many means of communication that you can be reached out. Um, I think again, there's a huge difference between, um, the generation, so Generat. 


Theo Theodoulou: Y and Z specifically are, uh, more open to, um, ideas. Um, they're more diversified, as Hanson has mentioned.

They study abroad, they stay abroad. Um, appreciating different cultures. Appreciating, uh, the way, uh, you do business in different cultures and different regions, uh, I think makes it much more easier compared to, uh, what it used to be, um, in, in, in early, earlier, um, age. And 

Hannah Robinson: given everything that you've just mentioned around the landscape, growing businesses, operating today, what do you think the greatest challenges are for Interpreneurs right now, and how would you advise them around those common hurdles to give them the best chance of success?

Hmm. [00:07:00] 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well, uh, the, the greatest challenges for, for Interpreneurs at the moment, I think is, um, that the internationally conditions, um, are, are changing almost, almost daily. Um, and, uh, the move the world is on, on the move in a way that it hasn't been for, for the last 70 years. As. As Theo, uh said, said earlier, um, there's a lot of geographical, uh, changes, uh, all over the world and, and the challenge is to see when they do the investments right now where the global community will be in 10 years.

And I think no one, uh, has a, has a clue. Where, where the world will stand even at the end of, of 2020. So since this is not foreseeable, um, many companies and Interpreneurs are still maintaining their international commitments, at least outside of Russia, um, [00:08:00] but are very cautious about investing in, in new countries.

And, and many of them are rethinking their, their purchase. Because supply chain, supply chain, especially from from Far East, isn't as stable as it was for decades before, before the Corona pandemic. And I think these are the two main main challenges for, for Interpreneurs at the, at the moment. 

Theo Theodoulou: So what do I think are the greatest challenges for Interpreneurs right now?

Um, the uncertainty, first of all, uh, following the pandemic, following the, the. In Ukraine. Um, it, it, it it's uncertain today, uh, where, uh, the wealth will be in the next, uh, I would say decade, even even shorter. So obviously Interpreneurs would have to reconsider the strategies even on a monthly basis depending on, uh, impacts that ha their businesses had, especially from the pandemic and the war.

Um, uh, the other thing that I believe is, is a big concern and a [00:09:00] challenge is the climate change. So obviously, uh, doing international. Implies that you have a significant increase in your carbon footprint, obviously wanting to do business internationally. You have to travel, you have to visit countries. So, um, this is another thing that especially the younger generations would consider when expanding internationally.

Um, and, uh, and I think it's, it's, it's actually, um, a crucial factor in, in decision making. Um, but again, at times are uncertain. Um, and, um, uh, the strategy and the plan for all Interpreneurs, um, should be, uh, reconsidered a revisited, uh, on a frequent based taking into consideration, obviously how the landscape 

Hanns-Georg Schell: is changing.

Uh, Yeah. So I, I, I, I agree with you Theo, that especially what, what you mentioned, that, uh, the climate change and the carbon footprint, that's, uh, that's a big challenge if you go go [00:10:00] international. Um, cause I absolutely, uh, agree that, uh, your carbon. Uh, footprint will, will increase and, uh, especially the, the younger generation, um, will, will consider this and, uh, will, will work with a company who is climate neutral at, at, at least.

And, uh, you have to be careful if how you, you travel, if you are using train or plane. And, uh, if you're flying business or economy, uh, And, and, uh, I already, uh, realized that, uh, young generation took, took, uh, this, uh, in mind if, if, if they decide to work with, with which company? Yeah. If they are, have, have the climate change in, in, in focus or, or not.

Theo Theodoulou: Course, I agree with you hands. Sustainability, something that they would consider going. I feel you have a tremendous impact on how you do business, especially. And 

Hannah Robinson: what are the [00:11:00] challenges that consistently surprise Interpreneurs or maybe that they least expect when trying to expand internationally? Any surprising trends in that vein you're seeing at the moment that align with the findings?

Hanns-Georg Schell: Um, well, what, what, what challenge has, uh, Interpreneurs at least expect My. Thoughts and experiences that, um, also depending on, on the generation, but even the, the younger generation who, who, uh, spend, uh, during their education time abroad, uh, it, it's still like the cultural difference, uh, that, that play a big role in, in business life.

Um, Not only with, with the employees, uh, uh, in, in, in other countries, uh, but, but also, uh, with the customers there. And, uh, the respective etiquette, for example, is different in Japan than in China or, or India. I, I'm just working with to two [00:12:00] companies, one in, in India and, and one from, from. And, uh, it's, it's, uh, what's interesting, first of when I, when I had a meeting with the Indian guys, um, to, to learn that shaking head doesn't mean, uh, they, they, um, deny, but, but they, they accept and, and say, wanna say yes, yes, yes, I agree.

Um, which in, in Europe when we shake the head, it's, it's no. Uh, but I, I, I don't agree. And in with, with the Japanese, it's, it's really interesting. I, I met this, this representative of a listed company once, two, two months ago. And, uh, uh, after the meeting we, we exchanged, uh, some, some emails and it's, it's quite interest.

Polite. The, the emails are, um, when they, how they, they, uh, uh, they form the, the first sentence [00:13:00] they, they, they're writing and the last sentence, uh, of the email. And in between it's, it's business, but, um, it's all covered by very, very polite. Um, Introduction and, and, uh, and, and I think, um, if you are not familiar with, uh, those different etiquettes Yeah.

It, you won't be, be really successful. And, uh, so you have to, to, um, have an insight in, in business, uh, uh, etiquette, um, to, to have, uh, have a chance to have a, a successful investment in, in, in foreign c. 

Theo Theodoulou: So what are the challenges that consistently surprise Interpreneurs, at least all that they least expect?

I, I think, um, I agree a hundred percent with Han. That's what I was gonna mention as well, the, the differences in, in business cultures and doing business, especially the impact that globalization has had, um, in, in over the years, especially, uh, in, [00:14:00] in, in, um, in, in developing countries. The way they do business has changed and, um, uh, globalization continues to have, has it to have an impact on, on the, on the way these countries do business.

So, uh, obviously having, um, an advisor who knows, um, how, how this, these trend changes would, uh, obviously, uh, benefit, uh, someone from understanding the changes in, in the business culture. And, um, I think this is crucial because, um, it's something that. Failure effort for, um, expanding internationally and especially in countries where, um, their fast growing, uh, and their economies.

Uh, developing quite a rapidly. 

Hannah Robinson: And in regards to your own countries in particular, what does the government do to support Interpreneurs looking to expand out of the territory? 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well, when I think what, what Germany can do to support, um, externally looking Interpreneurs, I think, um, Germany has already done, uh, a [00:15:00] lot here, uh, through foreign chambers of commerce.

Germany maintains in, in many countries. I think Interpreneurs can get information and, and support almost, uh, all over the world. Um, but unfortunately to, uh, access to the information is not, uh, always, always easy. Um, especially because, uh, we, we have. Two complex, uh, structure in, in our, um, administration.

And therefore I think a better accessibility or an awareness of, uh, that Germany already has could support the success of Interpreneurs. . 

Theo Theodoulou: So how do I believe, uh, that Cyprus can support Interpreneurs looking outwards? As I have mentioned, um, earlier, um, it's already sup our government's already supporting initiatives.

Um, adults mentioned Cyprus by default, has been in international hub [00:16:00] for decades. Um, it's also showing our history that's been influenced by many civilizations and, um, existing business hubs, uh, that are based in cypress, uh, people, business people from different in. Either through the Ministry of Finance or through ambassadors established in different countries and certain delegations that are organized on a yearly basis where we travel to different countries where we're looking to.

Our services and our, uh, products. And, um, um, I think the, the, the, the level of support we get from our country on, on this, on this aspect is actually quite, um, it's actually quite strong and, uh, very supportive, especially to the younger, um, Interpreneurs. And 

Hannah Robinson: what about the other way around? For those looking to expand into your country, any challenges they should be aware of or prepared for?

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well, uh, thinking about the other way around, what could Germany do for, for Interpreneurs who want to, to expand to, to Germany? [00:17:00] Um, well, I, I, I think that Germany stands for a stable political situation and that there's no fun fundamental need for, for any actions here. But, uh, but unfortunately, um, the situation is different in the, in the area of, of public adminis.

Not only that, that Germany has built up a far too complex uh, uh, administration structure. The digitalization of public administration lacks behind, uh, other European countries by at least 20 years, I would say. And unfortunately, the poor digital infrastructure as a whole is a problem not only for public administration, but uh, also for, for the economy here in, in Germany.

So that, um, I think internet expansion, uh, would have, uh, to be accelerated significant. Just a, a small private example. I live in small village, um, at the edge of Freberg. Freberg has [00:18:00] 200,000 inhabitants, my village only 3000. And it's just a, a difference of, of 10 kilometers outside of Freberg. And in Freberg you get an internet access that with speed up to, to 1000 ambi in, in my place, uh, of, of residents.

It's just six ambi, six. So there, there's no mobile working possible there and, and even no, no, uh, uh, industrial, um, uh, investment. So, um, to increase and, and expand the, the internet, uh, would be one of the, um, most, um, uh, important, uh, things that, that Germany could do to, to gain more, more, uh, Interpreneurs investing in, in Germany.

Theo Theodoulou: So, um, what does my country do for Interpreneurs looking to export in Cyprus? Um, as I have already mentioned, um, Cyprus has [00:19:00] a lot of dependency on foreign direct investment. Um, an example being that there were years that we had almost 300% of our GDP on F D I, which shows exactly, uh, that the locals are able to attract, um, international business.

Um, and it it varies on, on industries from agriculture to education to technology, really real estate. Uh, which is, which is great for the economy here. Um, I do agree with Han Public Administration is sometimes can be a, a real burden for investors. Uh, obviously digitalizing the public administration has been a process of our government for many years, but again, we're still behind.

Bureaucracy is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Um, the good thing is that disciples economy is very small. We are almost a million populations, so, um, obviously advancing on, on levels of technology, uh, is much easier compared to bigger European. But again, we see that the past decade or so, our government has, um, obviously, um, developed the, the system, especially public administration, and [00:20:00] we're hoping that this will further improve in the 

Hannah Robinson: future.

Finally, and probably most importantly for some of our listeners, I'm sure. What advice would you give to aspiring Interpreneurs looking to expand globally over the near future? What have you found most valuable in your own career? 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well to, if I think about how can we inspire young Interpreneurs, I think.

And we have a, we have a startup desk here and, uh, are dealing with, uh, and, uh, advise seeing, uh, a lot of, of young, young people with technology in mind and that, that are developing, uh, products and then try to build up, um, Uh, manufacturing company build up, uh, supply chains and so on and, and go to, to market.

Um, I think they have always a, a lot of, of ideas and, uh, are, are often pioneers [00:21:00] in, in their thinking. Sometimes they're, they're pr, sometimes they're hesitant because they, they don't overview the risk. And, uh, my recommendation would be that, If you want to go abroad, you should, uh, investigate the, the possible markets for studies using cresent Global Network, and then, um, evaluate the, the results and then, yeah, well, depending on, on the financial, um, possibilities decide to, to go to the most significant market or market or, or markets.

And, uh, as, as I said earlier, once the, the decision has been made, do not implement the investment and, and commitment step by step, but go straight into the full. Of course, it does not mean that, uh, all investments will be successful, but, um, yeah, as I mentioned earlier, money at you use, you can earn again, but time that is lost and not used, uh, that's gone and, uh, won't come.[00:22:00] 

And it's very important time to market, be the first, uh, and, and, uh, so that's, um, means going to full, not spill beans. So what would 

Theo Theodoulou: advice on aspiring Interpreneurs, I know it will sound a bit cliche, but, uh, I would say you never should never stop dreaming. Um, I, I, I think it's, um, in today's world, as we have already discussed and elaborated, everything's possible, especially with globalization and international.

It's very important to be ahead of the game, always taking into consideration the challenges we've discussed. Um, the uncertainty of today's world, um, climate change impact technology, but at the end of the day, nothing is impossible. Um, of course, um, expanding internationally, um, means that you need to have a trusted advisor.

Hence using Kreston Global, uh, firms all over the world. I believe you can have a trusted advisor that can, uh, guide you, uh, on a step-by-step approach into setting up [00:23:00] your business and making sure you establish good business connections in the countries where you would like to, um, expand internationally.

Hannah Robinson: I think we've quite successfully covered off all the different angles we wanted to discuss. Thank you so much to Han and Theo for joining me. I'm sure this is all super invaluable to our listening Interpreneurs and anyone who's interested in global business really. Sadly, this is the last episode in the Interpreneur podcast series, at least for now.

But it's been a great journey. I know I've learnt a huge amount from interviewing these great Interpreneurs from all over the globe, and I'm sure Crest's Report will go on to inform countless budding, uh, business people that are just starting on the international venture. As always, there's a link to the research report in the podcast description, and it's been an absolute pleasure.

Thank you for listening. 

Music: Bye for now.[00:24:00]