If you want to reach your full potential as a business, you need to expand into a global operation. Unfortunately, doing so can be quite difficult. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, some of which may be completely unforeseen to you. However, if you accomplish the five steps below, the process of reaching international customers should progress a lot smoother.
Perform Substantial Research
The first step to any proposed international expansion should always be performing extensive research regarding that new market. There are so many factors you must consider. These include the tastes of local consumers, cultural mores, competitors, laws, regulations, other government roadblocks, and more.
Just because something is successful in the United States does not mean it will work in a foreign market. You may have to completely change your product and marketing to create a good fit for that country.
Even after that, getting the local government to allow you to enter into that market as a competitor for locally bred companies can be an extreme challenge in and of itself.
Assess Your Strategies for Expansion
If it does indeed appear to be feasible that your product could be popular in a foreign market, the next step is formulating a strategy for actually getting your product into the hands of those foreign consumers. There are many strategies for doing so.
For one, you could simply sell your product online and ship it internationally. You could work with a foreign distribution partner to get your product onto store shelves in that country. You could build your own corporate-owned locations, and you could also work to create franchise agreements in that country with locals. There are a lot of options.
Protect Your Company
You should be aware that there are a lot of risks when expanding into international markets that you must account for. In your own home country, you can rely on the police and the local legal system to help you if you are targeted by criminals. However, in international markets, the local authorities may be more unwilling to help you.
In certain cases, they may even be on the payroll of the crime syndicates in question. There are, however, other ways to protect your bottom line. Business insurance is an excellent choice. That way, if your company is preyed upon, you will be reimbursed for your losses.
For example, you may need commercial boat insurance?if you ship your product overseas in container ships. Such insurance can protect you against risks like property damage, theft, lawsuits, licensing issues, and even environmental accidents.
Obtain the Foreign Talent You Need
Expanding internationally is not something you can do on your own. In fact, with the language, legal and cultural barriers, it may be impossible to do on your own. Instead, seek out the foreign talent you will need to help make the transition into that new market as smooth as possible.
These should be both locals and ex-pats that are bi-lingual and can speak both English and the native language. Be aware that there are more foreign language speakers than English speakers in the world population. This talent should have both a strong business background and a firm understanding of the market and local customer base.
In certain cases, employing locals may be mandated by law in that country. Whatever the case, you need this talent to make your expansion a success.
Develop a Localized Marketing Plan
Lastly, you need to develop a localized marketing plan. In fact, you may want to use marketing professionals inside that country instead of your usual marketing team. While your current marketing team may be adept at advertising in the US, they may be completely clueless when it comes to the significant cultural differences and market trends in that country.
Certain things that may be fine in an ad in the US, may be off-putting or even scandalous in a foreign ad.
Entering a foreign market will never be easy. Instead, you need to spend many months and perhaps even years planning for this kind of expansion. However, certain steps will always make the task easier. This includes performing adequate research, choosing the right expansion strategy, purchasing the right kind of insurance, hiring skilled locals, and developing a homegrown marketing plan.