WAR clouds are gathering.

This time you won't face the swart gevaar  or the rooi  gevaar.  The threat comes from international business. Your foes are offshore corporations that want to muscle in on your markets.

And you're vulnerable.  South Africa's return to the world stage brought with it wide-ranging social, political and economic repercussions. And the seismic waves that accompanied it shook the foundations of artificial barriers that isolated you from the harsh realities of competitive international trade.

But, for the moment, the skies remain blue, lulling you into a sense of false security. Which reminds me of an old Chinese proverb that packs a lot of wisdom into only nine words:

'A wise man never sees a wholly cloudless day,'

Whether you choose to see them or not, the clouds are gathering. And they're the clouds of war. Business is war. And the conflict in which you're about to become embroiled will leave many casualties.

At stake: market share.

Cross-border invaders

This time you won't be fighting your traditional rivals, the domestic companies that serve the same markets you do. This time you'll be defending your territory against cross- border invaders. Sophisticated foreign companies with access to state-of-the-art production equipment. And they're located in countries where high levels of productivity are taken for granted.

You'll be fighting for your company's life against astute business people who have imbued their employees with a culture of customer service ... business people who'll waive short- term profits in exchange for a healthy slice of your market.

You can win

Although you'll be on the defensive, you can stem the tide of invasion. And you can win. You have to win.

As Sir Winston Churchill put it: 'Without victory there is no survival.'

If you believe military strategists, winning requires the application of boldness, bravery and aggression at just the right time and just the right place.

To win, you must take quick, decisive action. It was Napoleon Bonaparte who said: 'Hesitation and half- measures lose all in war.'

But you can't take decisive action to force your opponent's hand unless you know who he is ... where he is and what strategy he'll use to force his way into your market. And you won't win unless you have well-thought out, practical defensive strategy.

Hence this book.

In Look Out. A survival guide on how to cope with the international business onslaught, I've compiled a survival guide for South African businesses in the line of fire. And that means any type of commercial and industrial endeavour with a profit potential.

170 local companies

The information on which I base my observations and conclusions has, for most part, been provided by 170 local companies  -  large, small and in-between.

Look Out. A survival guide on how to cope with the international business onslaught  will show you how to determine the degree to which your business is threatened.

I also explain what counter-measures other South African companies will take, if any, to ward off the raiders, and measures you should adopt to keep your market intact are suggested. There are three summary chapters, the last of which has been designed for use as a checklist when you prepare your defence strategy.

The general election in April 1994 marked the end of an era during which government-imposed trade barriers ensured that South African business never had it so good.

But those halcyon days are over. And Look Out. A survival guide on how to cope with the international business onslaught   provides a timely reminder that no one is ever safe from competition. 

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  Authors Note
1. Protection Gets the Bullet
2. Perceive the Threat
3. Define the 'Get In' Strategy
4. A Quick Backward Glance-1
5. The Importance of Pricing
6. Vital Ingredients: Products and Productivity
7. Customer Service: On the Backburner
8. A Quick Backward Glance-2
9. Preventative Strategies: Price and Service Quality
10. Preventative Strategies: The Ramparts of Distribution
11. Preventative Strategies: Management - to restructure?
12. Preventative Strategies: Market Aggressively to Win
13. A Quick Backward Glance-3
14. In Conclusion
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