There is near unanimity among international business scholars that it takes more time to expand internationally than domestically. Hence, this is why some are puzzled by born globals (BGs), firms that make large foreign sales at birth or shortly afterwards. Explanations given for this “anomaly” are that BGs have exceptional resources—advanced technologies and a high international orientation on the part of their entrepreneurs, and that they rely on cheaper internationalization strategies like the Internet and networks. What is almost completely overlooked is the role of the BG’s business model (BM). We analyze the time it took for a sample of Italian SMEs to reach BG status (25% foreign over total sales) within a three-year time span. Entering both international entrepreneurship (IE) and BM variables, we find that, among the IE variables, a firm’s technological intensity, the number of years their founders studied abroad and their foreign language fluency, as well as their use of domestic networks, are statistically insignificant. Variables measuring a firm’s focus on a niche BM, on the other hand, are statistically significant, along with the international work experience of the founders, with the niche BM explaining a higher level of variance with greater accuracy.
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