For most growth-minded business owners, conquering their local market is only the beginning. Their ultimate goal is taking their idea and expanding it across the world.
This may sound ambitious, but going global has benefits. You extend the sales life of products, reduce dependence on one market, and expand and grow your business. For this effort you can generate more revenue.
While expanding is no easy task, it can be done for businesses of all sizes if they follow these 15 tips.
1. Build a solid foundation.
Before you can start expanding overseas, it’s necessary for you to have a solid foundation at home. Do you have enough resources? Is your All-Star team ready to juggle both your new overseas venture and your existing local customer base?
Is you’re business is financially and structurally strong? You need a staff who is ambitious and entrepreneurial. These attributes place you on a solid foundation to be able to support global growth.
2. Perform an internal business analysis.
Even though you have a solid foundation intact, will your business succeed in new markets? An internal business analysis can help you figure fact from fiction with actual numbers. The audit helps you identify your specific resources, capabilities, core competencies, and unique value proposition.
The analysis should also help you answer questions like:
- Do you have a customer base in the country or countries that you want to enter? Market segmentation can assist with this.
- Is there a demand that is not satisfied by a local company? If you’re uncertain, perform a gap analysis.
- Will the local market purchase your product or service? A SWOT analysis can clue you in.
- What’s the market size and how long will it take you to achieve your targeted sales?
3. Develop an international strategy and business plan.
The plan will help improve the odds of success in various local markets. The plan will also integrate with with your corporate strategy and objectives.
- Define your short, medium, and long-term strategy.
- Defining attainable and specific goals and objectives. Have metrics that will measure your progress, as well as the cost/benefits.
- Complete the business model and structure. For example, do you want to build a separate company, a branch, or a sales office?
- Create a top-down annual budget.
- Develop a tactical project plan that contains commit dates.
4. Speak the language and break down cultural barriers.
Thanks to tools like Langify and WindRose, eCommerce sites easily convert content into multiple languages. Shopify experts on ShopPad say that “Having access to multiple languages for your store and related content related to your store is a must.” This even includes emails and availability to search engines. Shopify explains the options needed to open that gateway to international customers.
“Luckily, the Shopify app store has access to apps that will cover all of your language setting needs. These apps are vital for allowing customers to understand the store and what they’re purchasing.”
This doesn’t mean that you have to necessarily have to have boots on the ground. You can hire someone who has immigrated from or studied in the country. If you do need boots on the ground, you can always outsource tasks like translation or marketing. Find someone who genuinely loves this new culture you are embracing.
If you have the budget, hire a specialized consults for that market. Personally travel to these countries, and attend international trade shows and conferences. You will want to increase your knowledge — and fall in love with the new home for your products and services.
5. Differentiate your products.
Since you’ve already conducted a gap analysis, you should be able to effectively market-ready your offerings. Have them stand out from both local and foreign competitors.
Focus primarily on:
- Government and industry specific regulations so that you’re positive that you’re in compliance. Also obtain any necessary certifications.
- Determine if your products have to be “localized.” For example, does the name of your product when tranlstated mean something offensive?
- Initiate a patent and trademark review.
- Launch testing and quality assurance reviews that are based on local standards.
- Consider hiring a local logistics and distribution network who can sell and market your product. If go with this option, then you need to figure out how your product will get to them.
6. Prepare your organization.
Remember the cultural, economic, and governmental conditions that you have to take into consideration when going global. Eliminate your mindset of, “one-size-fits-all.” Prepare a more flexible organization. Motivate employees to help you achieve the plans that your company has put into place.
Established policies and procedures that comply with both local requirements and your company policies. You can also offer competitive benefit and compensation packages to attract local employees. Develop a local technology infrastructure, and consider outsourcing functions like payroll or human resources in that country.
7. Develop a comprehensive, cohesive marketing strategy.
This strategy will addresses situations needed in a global sales strategy. It will include sales delivery, branding/value proposition, marketing strategy, marketing programs, and even pricing.
When put together this strategy will differentiate your business. You want your business to have local acceptance and growth.
You can develop this strategy by answering the following questions:
- What’s your ideal sales model? Is it direct, indirect, OEM, distributor, hybrid?
- What’s your sales methodology; solution, feature, consultative, price?
- Are you going to use a parent band or launch a new brand?
- Have you developed a comprehensive marketing plan and established KPIs.
- Have you evaluated your pricing model?
8. Get legal documentation in order.
There are some countries that are extremely litigious. This means that before you can start operating in their country, you’ll have all necessary legal documents in order. It’s best to address these legal matters as soon as possible. This protects against facing any risks and liabilities.
- Researching the regulations regarding your industry so that you can obtain the proper compliance and certifications.
- Having local commercial agreements.
- Performing general corporate services – customs, shipping, and dispute resolution.
- Maintaining well-documented corporate records and governance
9. Address any tax and compliance issues.
Nicole Fallon write in Business News Daily. “If you think it’s difficult to navigate the various tax codes and business regulations from state to state, try selling in another country.” For starters you need to adhere to the tax regulations established by both the IRS and foreign entity you’re moving into.
Fallon adds, “banks may be hesitant to deal with a U.S.-based account due to the administrative burden. You might need to set up a separate, foreign business entity. Check a bank account to make handling transactions worth while for the banks.”
Finally, there are varying compliance issues. For instance, in Europe your instructional manual may have to include around 24 different languages.
To help alleviate this concern, consider outsourcing your accounting and bookkeeping tasks, build relationships with local banks, and prepare your report sales and VAT taxes.
10. Tap government and private sources of financing.
Financing is always a concern when expanding. You could turn to traditional sources of funding. You may need loans, lines of credit, investors, or grants. Securing financing from banks that deal specifically with helping businesses expand globally. Places to start; the Export Import Bank of the U.S. Ex-Im Bank, MB Financial Bank and MB Business Capital.
Ask your local sources if they’re aware of any banks in their native country that can help with financing as well.
11. Think about invoicing and accepting payments.
Whether you have foreign clients, suppliers, or vendors, you’re going to have to issue invoices. A cloud-based invoicing platform available in multiple currencies and languages makes this seamless. Another safe option would be to use the blockchain. It accepts a cryptocurrency like bitcoin which is faster and less expensive than traditional cross-border payments.
12. Prepare your final budget.
Create a 3-year budget, along with your 12-month business plan. Includes key performance indicators to share with lenders, stakeholders, and your team.
Don’t forget to update your information every 6 months, perform quarterly reviews, and set-up a real-time budget.
13. Build strong relationships with local businesses.
Find local partners. You’ll want distributors or complementary businesses in your new market. This will give you a competitive edge and open the door for more opportunities to grow.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you should vet these partners by launching a “deep dive” and due diligence investigation.
This may sound complicated. Turn to specialists like Infortal Worldwide, who’s information is going to drastically reduce global business risks.
A due diligence investigation involves solve levels that include:
- Level I: consists of checking individual’s and company names through several hundred Global Watch lists. Check and clear anti-money laundering (AML), anti-bribery, sanctions lists. Couple with other financial corruption and criminal databases.
- Level II: supplements Global Watch lists. You will find a deeper screening of international media.
- Level III: involves diving deeper into the background of an individual or company. You’ll need boots on the ground for this investigation.
14. Be consistent with branding, but adapt to the environment.
While it’s important that you stay true to your brand, you may have to adapt your sale’s approach. Different cultural norms and customer needs may change your entire marketing, packaging, or entire product. That’s okay, you are here to build a business.
Take McDonald’s, for example. They’re a successful global brand because they offer region-specific menu items. We may be eating burgers here in the States. Obviously that’s not acceptable in a country like India. Instead, there are more vegetarian options. While the overall brand is the same, McDonald’s knows how to successfully adapt to locally environments.
15. Consider the impact of any new ideas.
Finally, you and your time are going to have to develop. Be receptive to new ideas. What has worked domestically may not fly internationally. And, that could ultimately prevent you from growing globally.
“As you ‘spitball’ new ideas, someone definitely needs to think about scalability to your international territories — usually you,” says Mike Zani. This is Zani CEO of business consulting firm PI Worldwide speaking to Business News Daily. “Time zones, language and cultural appropriateness all need to be considered when you branch out internationally. If you don’t do this ahead of time, you run the risk of offending your international partners. Don’t appear to be more concerned about yourself [than] them.”
Article source: forbes.com