Almost every sensible entrepreneur starts out by first creating a local customer base for achieving success. Thereafter, all efforts are directed towards maintaining the momentum of success. Once these goals are realized, entrepreneurs become more confident of their abilities and want to take their business international.
One of the biggest signs of a successful business is international expansion, especially if you’re taking it global. In fact, transcending international boundaries is an extraordinary feat that not all businesses can accomplish.
However, there are certain factors to be taken into consideration from the business point of view before you go from domestic to multinational. Mentioned ahead are a few of them that can have bearings on your company’s international operations.
#1. Brace Yourself, Change Is Coming
As an entrepreneur, you want your business to thrive in the new place, and not just survive. This is possible only when you understand the characteristics of the new market and the psyche of your new customers, and pace your business accordingly. This will help your business not only grow, but also evolve.
Apart from customers, you also need to engage your partners and/or investors. Your partner could be anyone you trust, like a co-founder or a mentor. Did you know that two founders, rather than one, significantly increase the odds of success? You will likely raise 30% higher investment, increase your customer base three times faster, and will be less likely to scale too fast for your own good.
Having an international partner when expanding globally should work as morale booster as not only will he/she be able to vouch for you in the countries you want to reach, but also share your passion, understand the local market, and know how to leverage shared resources.
#2. Size Up Your Competition
You don’t want to venture into an unknown territory uninitiated and without adequate preparation. Competition can be cut-throat, particularly in larger markets, where only the strongest players leave their mark.
While there may have been a couple of factors that you might have overlooked when doing business back home, there’s certainly no undermining the competition on foreign grounds. Doing so can run your business into the ground as you lose out on new lucrative markets.
#3. Study, Research, Explore
This point takes the previous one a step ahead. Apart from familiarizing yourself with your competition, you also need to consider other aspects of running your business overseas.
For example, the language and translation of the new country is one such aspect. Do you know enough about the business landscape of the new market? Do your new target audiences use social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to follow brands or do they use another local social platform? Have you taken the local business laws and ethics into consideration?
You may want to research a few companies that tasted success in the country you want to venture in to and interact with them in order to be well prepared. Sometimes, clients/prospects who have used your competitors’ products/services can provide you with helpful insights. Studying these companies and their strategies in depth beforehand will spare you a lot of hassles upon putting your expansion plans into action.
#4. Think Big While You’re At It
When you expand internationally, you will be making tremendous investments. It, therefore, makes perfect sense to make the most of this opportunity and set ambitious targets to achieve the best possible returns.
The biggest advantage of determining a revenue goal for your overseas office will help you figure out the number of sales representatives and marketing leads, learn about customer segmentation, and settle on the requirement for customer service representatives and strategy.
All these factors are best accounted for well before time to ensure flawless planning and budgeting. Doing so also goes a long way in retaining the team that looks after the success of the business operations at the international office.
#5. Adaptability Is the Name of the Game
Different countries have varying cultural norms and customer needs, which may require you to alter and adapt your sales strategies, products and service to suit the foreign market. Localization is a big part of going global if you want your offerings to be accepted by local customers. The way you adapt to the new business environment will play a key role in your business success on foreign shores.
This, however, does not mean that you stray from your brand standards. Remain consistent in your branding and modify your product to suit local sensibilities.
#6. Hire Locally and With Care
One of the biggest and the most important tasks that lies ahead of you when launching an international office is recruiting local talent that is expert in your field in their culture. Regardless of how much you read up or educate yourself about the nuances of the culture of a foreign land, it is only the people native to it who will truly be able to gauge what customers expect.
In order to build cultural harmony within your company (and if your budget permits), you can try and have your new global team over at your primary office for orientation and training purposes. Later on, communication can take place via teleconferencing, but interactions will have faces to names, which goes a long way in engendering trust and goodwill among employees working from different regions.
Always work towards making the members of your global team feel like they’re a valuable part of your company. Offer them careers, not just jobs. Give them equal access to information, resources and growth opportunities.
Once a business has gained a stronghold in the local market, it is only natural for it to take the next step, i.e. expansion. Needless to say, taking a business to another country and new people requires nerves of steel. Testing the waters before stepping into them makes perfect sense in such situations. The above tips should help you do just that and understand what global expansion entails. Good luck with your international entrepreneurial aspirations!
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