Taking the First Steps on the International Stage
So, your big idea took time, but it’s paying off – and now your business has firmly established its place in the market. Soon, you’ll have grown so much that it will be tempting, and eventually necessary, to look further than local markets. But expanding out into new countries means more than setting up a storefront and hiring new staff. Depending on what you offer, the process can be more difficult than launching in the first place.
But with great risk and effort come great rewards. If you move into the global market correctly, you’ll have a foundation of success that lasts far into the future.
Here are some factors to remember if you want your business to boom across the border.
Getting Ready For the World
Breaking out into a foreign market isn’t the time to make assumptions. Take an in-depth, honest look at your offerings, finances, and ability to carry this idea to fruition – and then decide if the time is right for international expansion.
If you’ve already done that, congratulations! Now you must decide what resources you can spare from your main domestic operations to get the process rolling. You don’t want to miss opportunities at home because you’ve spread yourself too thin, so move forward with the same consistent quality in mind.
Next comes the fine-print details: are you opening a branch, a sales office, or a brand-new company? What are your short- and long-term strategies? If you don’t have enough information to define your goals, business model, and deadlines, don’t panic – but settle in for some serious research.
Laying A Strong Foundation
Finding out more information about your ideal markets is a long, but necessary, process. It ensures that your new customers actually exist, and enables you to work toward known goals in the new location.
Spend time getting to know the region you’re expanding into. How does their culture and business practices differ from the ones you’re used to? What new needs and desires will they have that you can meet? Try to put yourself into their mindset and understand who they are and why they would turn to your business instead of another.
There are many logistics considerations to account for as well, and researching those is equally important. What languages must be added to the packaging, or used for deals? Does the packaging itself have different environmental or legal requirements? Are your distributors, suppliers, and raw materials close by? If you offer live customer service, can you maintain that for multiple time zones that may be offset by several hours?
Even the daily life of somewhere new can have unforeseen quirks. Voltages and plug shapes are different from one country to another; local tax regulations can wreak havoc on unprepared accountants; even the pace of business varies greatly and may feel uncomfortably slow. There are plenty of ways your business will have to adapt – but knowing this from the start will greatly increase your chances of overcoming any obstacles.
The Right People for the Job
Who knows the culture and market better than the locals? Use this to your advantage by consulting with experts in the area, hiring someone who knows the demographics, and supporting them with a competent staff. From a client perspective, this will also help instill an inherent sense of trust in your brand, as your representatives will be knowledgeable, helpful, and familiar with the area. This is key in the initial launch phase, as it will reassure new customers of your reliability and value.
The overarching theme of any global expansion is planning ahead – and to do that, you need to understand industry trends and know exactly why your company fits in with them. At WJ, we are experts at finding the why of your business, and helping you create a master blueprint for your future plans – whether they wait down the street, or across the ocean.