Running a business on a domestic scale is pretty straightforward if you have some sort of business experience. Even if you haven’t, support and advice are easily and readily available from many different sources.
However, many businesses reach a point where the next natural step is to expand it on an international scale, and this is where it can be a little more challenging. As well as making sure that there is a market for your product or service, you need to know how to attract foreign customers, overcome language and cultural barriers, get to grips with unfamiliar and often complex employment laws and tax regulations, and so on. It can be overwhelming.
If you do want to go global, and expand your business on an international scale, here are a few tips to help you get off on the right foot. Remember to check all of the guidance and make sure it applies to the country or region that you are hoping to move to.
Check that there is a need for your product or service
The first and most important thing you can do before venturing into the international arena is to consider the global demand for your goods and services. You should not assume that if your goods and services are effective in your current market, your business will automatically gain international support. You need to be prepared to adapt to meet the demands of your new market. Consider how far you are willing to go with adaptations though. If it takes you too far away from your original plans and goals, maybe it is better to reconsider the market you are entering into?
Ensure you have legal support
There are so many legal hoops to jump through that you run the risk of inadvertently making a mistake somewhere down the line. The problem is when it comes to legal stuff, ignorance and innocence are not a defense and it can cost you significantly. It is, therefore, important that you have proper legal advice every step of the way using a lawyer or attorney with business experience in the country or countries that you are hoping to expand into. If there is a language barrier making things difficult, enlist the services of legal translation services to make sure no vital information is lost.
Hire people carefully
When it comes to recruiting your leadership team, tread carefully. On one hand, it seems logical to recruit your entire team from scratch in your new location. On the other, wouldn’t it be sensible to use people you know and trust and relocate them? Relying on either of these options solely could potentially be a mistake. You want to hire an internal interim leadership team that knows your business inside and out and fully understands what it is that you want to achieve, who can then work with local employees to build a new, global leadership team.
Network to get work
Networking is your friend here. Whether it is drumming up potential partners, suppliers, and distributors, meeting new clients, or sourcing outsourcing partners, you need to get out there and meet people. Attend local trade shows relevant to your niche, where you can speak to everyone in the business chain, even down to the banks and freight liners that you may want to think about using. By becoming friendly with someone who knows the region, you can find out more about the market and the culture.
Research the culture
Following on from the previous point, doing your research into the culture before you go there is essential. In some places, a bow of the head may be considered offensive. In others, it may be considered offensive if you don’t. Finding out some of these things – which are often the smaller details – can make or break your foray into the international market.
Think about your SEO strategy
You will almost undoubtedly need a new website that caters to your international customers, and with this comes a new SEO strategy. There may be a new language involved or a completely different culture, in which case you will need to do some research into keywords and the internet usage patterns of people in your new market. Again using someone familiar with the culture as well as the language is helpful to ensure you get this right.
To succeed in the international market, you must do many things, including have a great product and team. A strategic plan will provide you with the ideal direction to guide your decisions, keeping you on track to meet your long-term goals and ensuring that your business still operates under its core vision, purpose, and values.