You’ve labored long and hard hours and your work has paid off. Your business is thriving in your country, and you’re looking to expand to other countries. Taking a business from local or national to global is an adventure.. Before wading into international markets, you have a lot to think about and a lot of decisions to make.
Study the global markets. Chances are if your company has been successful locally or nationally, there will be opportunities for you to go overseas. But every market is different, and you should do some serious research on the markets that you’re considering getting into. Consider what the competition would be in the various markets.
Explore your global budget. Just as you’ve no doubt done in building your business locally or nationally, conduct extensive research on what the costs of international expansion will be . Think about the logistics of shipping overseas. Also find out what companies offer services such as freight forwarding, if there are tariffs or regulations that would stand in the way of your product or service being offered abroad..
Focus on one potential market at a time. All markets are different, but your business’ essential core services and products probably will remain the same. Don’t modify your core business strategy to fit a particular market. While it may make sense to adapt somewhat, if you adapt too much for every different market your company will become too fragmented and will lose its identity. It’s better to not expand into a market that doesn’t fit your company than to lose your compan's focus and identity.
Learn the language of the market you’re considering venturing into. While this may seem unnecessary, especially if you’re going to rely on individuals inside the country that you’re expanding into, it is a good idea to learn a little bit about the language. Learning at least basic communication skills in the country in which you’re thinking of expanding will help you get an idea of how the people think and conduct business.
Visit your potential markets. When you visit the country, you can get a feel for where your products or services might be able to be sold and how many people would be interested in buying them. Also when you’re visiting, be sure to watch for competing products. Knowing there are competitors in the market has good points and well as some bad points. It helps you know that your product has some potential to succeed, and it shows you that you do have some competition to go up against.
Learn about the culture of your market. Every region of the world has unique cultures and traditions that will have an impact on how people think about your product or services. Some products and services that do just fine in one country will never do well in some others. Reading a couple of books about the markets that your considering on expanding into is a good idea.
Create a network of contacts. This is probably one of the most crucial steps in taking your business to other markets. You can’t be everywhere all the time and there’s no way you can possibly know everything you need to know about a local economy and culture to operate the international aspects of your business. If you’re expanding rapidly into multiple markets you may consider hiring someone locally who has a record of success in working with international businesses.
Conduct a SWOT analysis. If you’ve never conducted an analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in the environment that your company is operating in, then now is the time to go through that analysis. Your company know doubt has it’s own set of strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats that it faces every day. By making a list of these and carefully analyzing that country that your considering getting into, you can get a pretty good idea of how well your business will be able to handle expanding globally.