Growing your business out of the past year’s tough conditions means you need to explore new territories. Territories like the global market. Whether that means bricks and mortar outlets in other countries or just a smooth operating online store, the next step for most businesses is the global market.
Many business owners can remember what it took to get their business off the ground the first time, and every growth spurt has meant more focus on the bottom line. So, taking your business global should be no different, Yes? Unfortunately, not. The decision to move to new markets in other countries to promote your business and products has several aspects that might stretch your business to its limits. That is why you need to do just that little extra to make sure your business is ready.
As many business owners are fully engaged in domestic operations, going international could turn out to be a time expensive exercise. There is a silver lining to this grey cloud: that there have been many studies and even more business-focused strategies developed into this exercise.
Although the process is not simple, the steps you need to take are clear and concise. Using this guideline, you can plan and determine your company’s readiness for global expansion.
Step 1: Do Your Homework: Deep Dive Due Diligence
As with any business venture, you need to have your facts straight. You must do an in-depth market analysis on the international market. The need for up-to-date market knowledge has never been more crucial. Without this, your plan won’t get out of the starting blocks. No matter where your intended destination, you must understand the local market and as many of the possible stumbling blocks you might encounter as you can imagine. It is best to have clear information on your competitors’ products and your new client base’s buying habits.
Step 2: Plan Your Business Strategy
Two days of planning equates to 1 day in the field. This principle should be your motto when planning global growth. In the same way you planned your business when you started initially, you must now plan your global expansion. Having a clear plan for marketing and how you will react to market issues can only do your business well in the future. Aspects like short-, medium-, and long-term strategies, as well as sales objectives with clear sales metrics, should be part of your well-defined outcomes plan.
Step 3: Get Local Cultural Input
If you have only ever sold products in English-language markets up to now, you might need to get translation input on language differences. Don’t be fooled by the ability of the local public to understand English, just because there is so much business English in the market. Your product names and slogans might not have the same meaning in the local tongue as they do in your domestic business. (We’ve all heard the tale about Chevrolet trying to launch the Nova in Mexico: “No va” means “doesn’t go!” Sales were pretty flat until they changed the model’s name to Caribe.) Find a local expert with international business experience and use them to ensure that your products and marketing “speak” to the right target audience.
Step 4: Ensure You Have Enough Capital
Money makes the world go ‘round. Money is also a key aspect of your global expansion plan. The capital needed for your expansion could be more than you currently have, and a failed expansion drive on the other side of the world could sink your domestic business. There is no hard and fast ratio of how much capital you need for a global business model, yet you need to make sure that your international business gets into the black as soon as possible. Capital reserves are needed to penetrate another market and maintain your sales edge anywhere in the world. You might also think about setting a point at which you cut your losses and withdraw. You can become emotionally attached to the idea of going global and not see the signs that you are teetering on the edge of a black hole where no amount of money can help you further.
Step 5: Organizational Readiness
Currently, your business might be dealing with operating your domestic business very well. Yet do you believe that your business can deal with double the work, or even more? Your current organization must be able to deal with the influx of documentation, sales pressure, and delivery requirements of your international business. You need your entire current staff to be on board with the expansion plan: you need their buy-in. Your company’s preparedness for the global move is a significant factor that you must address in your business and capital planning. Being ready as a business brings us to the next step.
Step 6: Develop a Local Infrastructure
Having a local office in the international market is one of the most critical aspects of your global plan. Whether you establish one before you launch or shortly afterward, the local presence is the gateway to your domestic head office. Clear communication lines by which you can monitor and control the operation are how you will be able to maintain your business edge. One of the most important aspects of business growth is the control of the flow of products and revenue. Without that, you will set yourself up for eventual failure.
Step 7: Set up Payment Gateways for Your International Clients
Depending on your model, you might need online and offline payment gateways for your new business. We all understand our domestic markets but a new market has its unique payment habits and preferences. This might be easier for online growth where you might only need payment options like PayPal. But if you are going to have brick-and-mortar stores you need to have the financial infrastructure set up before you go to market. It might seem like an obvious part of the plan. But you will be surprised how many businesses have failed because they did not understand the payment systems in new countries.
Step 8: Test the Market with a Single Product and Continue Testing
Testing the new market before you launch fully is never a wasted effort. When you are defining your strategy, test the market over and over again. Testing is one of the most powerful processes in a business. You tested your marketing strategies, your communication with clients; in fact, you tested just about every part of your current business. Do not expect that it will be any different when you go international. When you have achieved success with the first product, then start building on the market share you gained. And grow your business step by step, just like you did when you started here at home.
Taking your business international might be the most rewarding business decision you ever take. But you must do your homework every step of the way. You might find a business consultant that could guide you through the process or do it yourself. You built your business on hard work and clear lines of thinking; going international is nothing different. If you can master these simple steps, you could be the next global giant in your industry!