Mr. Robert Tran, CEO of the Robenny Corporation for USA, Canada and Asia Pacific, spoke with VET.
■ What are the advantages and challenges for Vietnamese SMEs as the country continues with its international integration?
There are some advantages, such as the market no longer being just 90 million people but 600 million, lower tariffs on many products, and the opportunity to partner with other suppliers in other countries, learn and upgrade, internationalize business, and become bigger.
The will be challenges for Vietnamese SMEs too, however, as they will have to be more competitive and they really don’t know how to begin to internationalize. Local SMEs have insufficient information and guidelines to explore other markets. If they are not well prepared they will lose market share. Another challenge is that they must upgrade their management and leadership to make them suitable for a larger market and they must understand the distribution channel in each market.
■ Accessing sufficient funds for sustainable development appears to be one of the greater challenges for SMEs. What is your advice in this regard?
SMEs around the world face similar issues relating to finance, human resources, systems, management, and other matters
SME associations and forums in Vietnam mostly provide support by way of information and businesspeople remain unfamiliar with or don’t use the resources of SME associations. Some
SME associations do quite good job, like in Ho Chi Minh City, but others don’t, so businesspeople don’t rely on them.
SMEs wanting to approach investors and funds, etc. need to be fully prepared in terms of having a clear business direction and business plan to show investors, be patient, adopt risk management practices, and organize their finance and accounting structure.
These are all weaknesses of SMEs in Vietnam.
Many SMEs approach me about exporting their products, I always ask for product information or a presentation, but almost none of them know how to prepare such things. Bringing products to my office is not enough. I can’t do anything with these products if there is no information.
■ How would you comment on the leadership of Vietnamese businesspeople as they take on international integration?
Not only in Vietnam but everywhere, even in New York City, at most SMEs the owner’s mindset is very much focused on the local market because with a staff of 20 or so they can’t do a great deal regarding international business.
I don’t think leadership is a problem, but risk management is. A good plan with risk analysis is the key. Leadership styles are influenced by culture, which is not easily changed but can be adjusted.
■ How can Vietnamese businesspeople benefit from international integration?
As I mentioned earlier, there are advantages and businesses will have opportunities to develop if they know how to fit in and survive.
“Dare to Try” and “Believe in Yourself” are my words of advice to Vietnamese businesspeople, but have detailed risk analysis.