The struggle of launching a business is real. As an entrepreneur, you put heart and soul and a lot of extremely hard work into creating a company. With a pinch of lunch, a solid business plan, good customer understanding and marketing, and some financial support, you get it up and running. You steer through that difficult first couple of years and start to establish a brand. You begin to turn a profit. Slowly, word about what you do spreads, and you attract a wider customer base. You may begin to expand into new products and services, acquire a new business premises or more trading locations, or develop an amazing website. If all is going well, there comes a point where you’re able to raise your thoughts from the day-to-day operations, and start thinking strategically. When that time comes, you’ll be starting to think globally. If you have serious growth potential in your company, cracking the local markets is only the very start. Ultimately, you want to take your idea and grow it on an international scale. Taking your business global has many hidden benefits. Any type of diversification is good as it reduces risk in one particular market. You can also extend the sales life of products and ideas, and of course generate a lot more profits or even think about franchising your business. Expanding globally presents a lot of unique business challenges, but if you plan carefully, and face them head-on, then you can and will succeed.
Solidify Home Operations
It’s very easy to get carried away with new markets, adaptation and plans at the beginning of a phase of business expansion. But all successful expansions should actually start with a thorough appraisal of the situation at home first. Ensuring a solid foundation, smooth operating processes and great resourcing in your home market is an essential part of your global expansion. First consider resourcing – many a great business has fallen victim to an over-ambitious expansion leaving them spread too thin. Having the right staff in place is also crucial – you need an all-star team who can drive the business forward in new territories while also keeping the home fires burning. Making sure you are in the best possible position financially and have a stable, ambitious team of staff will allow you to deliver growth on a global scale.
Be Led By The Numbers
It should go without saying but there’s never room to make assumptions when it comes to business expansion – any action you take must be led by hard facts, data and statistics. Developing your business plan to expand internationally is a priority, and if you need financial assistance to make the move, backers are likely to want to see this concrete evidence anyway. Mitigate the risk by conducting an internal business audit listing specific capabilities, resources, competencies and your value proposition and scoping out the size and shape of potential new market demand. Include a number of tools – everything from market analysis to social listening can help you to determine that you’re making the right move.
Create Your International Strategy
Although you’ve probably had a focus on consistency in order to be able to grow your business to this point, it now gets a lot more complex, as you have to balance that with varying regional demand globally and market adaptations which may be required to ensure that your product or service is successful overseas. A localised business strategy should take account of all this and map out a balanced pathway to international success. It should link closely to your company vision and values, original business plan and your corporate objectives, but be a working document with room to react agilely to shifting situations – economically, culturally, and governmentally. There are countless examples of even big corporations who failed to do the correct planning before making an international launch and paid the price with a flop product. Define what you need to achieve in the short, medium and long term in your target markets. Make these metrics ambitious but ultimately attainable and work out how you are going to measure progress and get things back on track if you see early warning signs. Be clear on what business model you are going to use in order to penetrate a new market – there are so many routes available, from buying up smaller local competitors to setting up a branch model or a completely separate company. You could just launch with one sales office, or work through a network of agents, or you could even looking at franchising the business in foreign markets. You need to make the move that suits both your own business and the conditions of the market you’re aiming for – finding a business mentor with experience of globalisation can be invaluable at this point.
Focus On Overcoming Cultural Barriers
When you’re entering into a market as a new competitor, however well known you are on home turf, you’re essentially starting from scatch. Everything must be carefully adapted to your new global audience. It’s not enough to lazily rely on an automated translation of your website and hope for the best – your marketing and website strategies need critical evaluation to ensure that they are in the best possible position. Pick an in-market, experienced translation service that will take a holistic approach, from making sure that your web content is fit for purpose to looking at closed captioning on your video content, currency conversion for ecommerce and repurposing printed marketing materials – and this should include reviewing the messaging, tone of voice and branding to ensure it works well across all operational markets. It’s broader than just language – ensuring a cultural fit is also vital to overseas success. Attending some trade shows and networking events in country is also a great step in order to understand the local climate a little more and be able to make adaptations as necessary.
Prepare Your Differentiation
In order to conquer new territories and to win over customers who will be new to your brand, there are some essential steps you must take in understanding the current market place, carrying out a competitor analysis, understanding the range of consumer choice in the country and getting to know what people’s perceptions are. This is the way in which you discover what differentiation you can offer and what is going to set you apart. A gap analysis should address how to overcome these hurdles. Look at factors such as relevant governance and legislation in your target destination – ensure compliance and identify and possible advantages. Investigate trademarks and patents where necessary to ensure that your brand and unique attributes remain protected in new markets. Look into a testing and quality assurance phase which brings your business in line with local market standards, and scope out the possibility of using a local logistics and distribution network to support your launch sales and marketing. Balancing the details and the bigger picture is now more crucial than ever.
Sort Out Legal, Tax And Compliance Issues
The landscape in some global territories can be extremely litigious and some markets are a lot more highly regulated than others, so depending on where you are expanding to, you’re going to be encountering very different legal, tax and governance issues which you must understand in advance. Protecting the business from unnecessary risks and liabilities should be top of your list. Any compliance measures or certifications you require to operate must be in place before you make the move, as should local commercial agreements. You will also need to look at corporate services such as customs, shipping, and how disputes are resolved. Develop or upscale systems to maintain your corporate records and keep information up to date. You may need to set up separate business banking accounts within your new territories, as well as sourcing professional accountancy support to avoid taxation errors. Issuing invoices and processing payments can be very variable in different countries – and to avoid an administrative nightmare, it’s a good idea to invest in a cloud-based invoicing platform which operates in multiple currencies and languages, perhaps even accepting cryptocurrencies alongside traditional cross-border payments.
Get To Know The Locals
Building the strong supplier relationships you’ve no doubt enjoyed at home overseas takes a little extra work. Buy finding great suppliers and proactively working with them can be one of the quickest routes to success, as they will have a great deal of market insight and other contacts which are potentially highly valuable to your business. Do a full due diligence before partnering with anyone, working with an information company dedicated to reducing global business risks. Give things time to develop and get to know the cultural considerations of each market so that you can start things off on the right foot. Put the groundwork into creating strong working relationships, appreciating that as an outsider it may take a little longer or a little extra effort. Respect the local knowledge that these suppliers are able to give you and you’ll be all set for a global success story!