For many entrepreneurs, a time comes when their domestic markets are no longer large enough. Luckily, there is the rest of the world to expand into, and this is what most growth-minded entrepreneurs end up doing.
Moving into new countries and markets means that you can access an even wider market and even more customers who can enjoy your products and services.
Even though expanding globally offers businesses lots of new opportunities and benefits, these can only be achieved if the expansion is done right.
If you don’t do your research and make sure that you take the time to consider every eventuality, then you could face many challenges in expanding your business internationally.
However, with a little hard work and commitment, you can find the perfect solutions and ensure as smooth a transition into the world of international business as possible.
In this article, we are going to look at a few things that entrepreneurs can do to ensure the success of their global expansion plans.
1. Finding the Right Local Partners and Team
The quality of the talent you bring in will play a massive role in your business’s success.
It is important to have partners or team members who understand the language and market of the countries you are looking to expand into. If they can bring both of these things to the table, then the partners and team members will become a critical asset for you as you move forward.
A great local partner can also work as the go-between between your business and other local partners, particularly if you do not speak the language. This can be critical in helping you seal deals or even get financing in a difficult market.
Make sure that you read online reviews of any international business that you want to partner with, to ensure that you choose a reputable partner with the local knowledge and service offering that you require.
2. Relying on Global Experts
Business owners should realize that they might need professional help if they want to ensure the success of their global expansion. Global expansion and getting help when doing it are particularly challenging for smaller businesses that are used to doing everything at a smaller scope and by themselves.
There will be some complexity in handling issues such as hiring and onboarding professionals, payroll processing and handling compliance, legal and human resource complexities.
If you want to expand into a European market like Germany, then you will need an employer of record in Germany to handle all of these things for you. Consider bringing in companies like New Horizons Global Partners that can act as the employer of record, as well as a professional employer organization to help you outsource complex administrative, legal, and compliance work so you can concentrate on keeping your business running.
3. Doing Your Due Diligence
All decisions you make regarding your expansion, as well as penetrating the new market, should be based on data and accurate information. It is therefore a good idea to go on an information-gathering trip to the country you want to expand into.
In addition to helping you meet your local partners, this trip will allow you to visit and interact with potential customers, OEM partners distributors, and competitors who have complementary or competing products.
The aim should be to find out if there is a large enough market for your business if you can successfully introduce new products into this market if the customers will be receptive to what your business will be selling, the selling price, as well as the selling network (the supply chain).
Once you have all this data at hand, you can then formulate a plan that will help you move forward with the expansion. It might seem like a lot of work, but this information could save you a lot of effort and issues later in your journey towards international expansion.
4. Being Open to Pivoting
You should be prepared for some bumps and the unexpected during a global expansion. That may mean changing how you run the business, or changing in some other way, such as how you handle relationships with distributors and suppliers.
Every new country you expand into will present you with different unique challenges and you should be ready to adapt to survive.
Sometimes, you may have to change your products and services entirely, but that is okay, as long as you are meeting a need and can stay profitable. Do your research and try to be as flexible as you can, so that you can quickly pivot your business to meet the needs of customers in your new market.
5. Learning How to Handle International Business Meetings
One of the things you will realize quickly is that business meetings in the new region will be different from what you are used to. Because of this, you might need to handle business meetings differently. That might mean building relationships before getting to business, not imposing time limits, so you are in a better negotiating position.
It could also include doing your research to understand the country and culture (this shows you respect the country, its people, and its cultures), understanding body language as well as dressing for business.
By learning about local customs and manners, you’ll be able to reduce your chances of making an embarrassing mistake. Every culture is different and has its own unique rules, so use your local partner to find out more about the local customs before every meeting.
If in doubt, rely on traditional good manners; most business leaders will be sympathetic of foreigners who don’t understand local customs yet. However, make sure that you learn from your past mistakes. Business leaders might be willing to forgive one mistake, but several could make you appear careless or, even worse, disrespectful.
By doing a little research, you can ensure that you don’t do anything seriously wrong and that you are gracious and well-mannered in the eyes of business leaders throughout the country in which your business now has a base.
6. Prepare Customer Support
Customer support will be critical, especially if you will be introducing new products and services into the markets you get into. Remember that you will have an unfamiliar customer base to cater to, so you must have a robust customer service team to ensure all their needs are met.
You might also be required to overhaul your customer support approach to include more agents who speak the language and understand the new customer. Hiring local staff is your best option in this case, as the agents you have right now might not be able to service customers located in areas with a 12-hour time difference.
If you are concerned that new local staff might struggle to understand your business model, then you could consider bringing some of your existing team members to make the transition easier and less stressful.
Taking your business global is both exciting and challenging. Many people fail at the transition stage because they miss a few key things. The tips above should give you an idea of what you need to keep in mind to ensure the expansion goes as smoothly as possible and is successful.
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