How To Expand Your Business Into Foreign Markets
Expanding your business into foreign markets will be a challenge, but one that if the destination of choice is right will bring you many rewards.
Your business is at a stage where it’s ready to venture into new markets. If you would like to grow your customer base and increase revenue and you have already tried the avenues that are available in your country of base, it’s time to look further afield. Expanding into foreign markets will no doubt bring considerable obstacles; from language barriers to transport issues, there will be plenty to talk about at the office during the first few months of your venture going global.
However, in the era of the internet and with the right operations in place, there are no new horizons your business cannot explore. On this guide, we tell you how to expand your business into foreign markets without this posing a significant risk to your venture.
Prepare an international business plan
Just like you did when you first started putting in place what is now your primary source of income in the country where you are based, you will need an excellent international business plan in place if you are about to expand into foreign markets. An international business plan needs to include all the company details you included in the first business plan you wrote for the company, but it also needs to take into account the market into which you will expand. A carefully-planned SWOT analysis that contains specific points will help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that you might encounter in the new market and this will give you a good starting point in a venture that will be challenging but exciting nonetheless.
Research the destination you are expanding into
Expanding operations to a foreign country comes with its own hurdles. Cultural, social, legal and economic differences will at times stand in the way of you sealing a deal with a local company and that is why you need to be well prepared and learn as much as there is to learn about the culture, language and political and economic landscape of the country you are about to expand to. You will also need to decide if trading will happen through employees that you will recruit in the area or by initially flying out someone from your team who has been with the company for long enough and knows the ins and outs of this. Making sure they have an executive condo where they can stay will then be the next step for you to consider.
Evaluate how you will distribute your products abroad
Again, this is something that you will need to do at an early stage, as deciding whether you will have company-owned foreign subsidiaries or agents once the company has started its expansion will be crucial. You, as the company director, might want to travel there regularly in the first few months of the process as this will allow you to meet the key players in your industry in the new country and this will be priceless. Doing so will open doors to so many possibilities, including the chance to embark on joint ventures with local partners and of getting to know people who you will be able to hire later on in the process.
Immerse yourself in the new country’s culture
Related to the need for you to be aware of the country’s political and economic landscape is the need for you to learn about the country’s culture and language. Customs are what keep a nation unique and in order for you and your company to be welcome in a new environment it is critical that you learn to communicate in the language and manner of the destination you have chosen for your business. For example, while Americans see tipping as something that is commonplace in their society, Japanese and Koreans see this as extremely rude. Also, while in the US putting your thumbs up means everything is good, and under control, in countries like the Middle East and Greece, this is seen as offensive and it means the same as holding your middle finger up.
Ask for a government loan if applicable
Expanding to a foreign country will be time-consuming and expensive, and that is why you should do some good research into whether there is any government funding you can make use of to complete the process. It is in your country’s government’s interest to support business operations abroad as these often help a state get its name out there and become better known amongst foreigners. For this reason, governments often offer funding to businesses who are expanding their operations to foreign lands, and as a result, you should also look into what financial help is available so that you can make the move easier and more comfortably.
Study ways of branding that will be attractive also abroad
Whilst you won’t want for your brand to change dramatically when you redesign this for foreign markets (unless the intention is for your business abroad not to be connected with the one at home), you will want to work on your brand a little bit so that this is also appealing to customers in the market you are about to penetrate. Bear in mind colors mean different things in different countries and if you are thinking of, for instance, having a website in place for the new country you are expanding to, you should look into which colors are the most favored there. Similarly, you should study the font of the websites of the businesses who already operate in the area in order for you to have something in place that will not be too aggressive to the consumers or too different from the norm.
Throw a launch party in an exotic spot
Your launch party will be the one that people will never forget. This should be the event that signals your arrival to the country, and as a result, it should be luxurious, fun and an opportunity to network with key business players in the country. If you are unsure as to where to hold this, read the country’s local business newspaper daily and get a glimpse into the business life in the area. Where are business people getting together? If the new location is anything like most cities around the world, this will also have a financial district, and this should be one you should explore in order for you to learn the essential places where people in your industry gather. A launch party will tell professionals that you are in business and there isn’t a better way of doing so than by being the host of your own party.
Expanding into foreign markets is not a decision that should be taken lightly, as this will be challenging and costly, but if your business is at a stage where it needs to extend the sales life of its products and services and where it is essential for it to reduce the dependency it has built upon your country’s market, this could be an excellent opportunity to explore new land. Similarly, if your home market is too volatile and this leads to fluctuations, it is a sensible idea to look into growing your business in foreign territories. Ultimately, expanding abroad will give you a unique sense of growing your company in unknown land and equip your business with the experience it needs not only to make it globally but to survive in markets that are sometimes unpredictable, where cultural and language barriers provide great obstacles and where you will need to become the best version of yourself to face unimaginable challenges.
This learning curve will no doubt be hard on you and those around you initially, and it will make you want to give everything up, but don’t give in to the irrational feelings that are created by the sense of failure. It is by persevering and fighting hard that business leaders out there have attained the success they can speak of today. By failing and trying again, the world will open doors for you to new opportunities, and it will be through learning to navigate rough seas that you will become the skilled sailor your company needs for it to survive and become a popular venture. Dare to explore new territories and to become comfortable in the unknown and messy, as it is only by doing this that you will become the company director that you always dreamt of and who is an inspiration to those around you. We live in a problematic world, full of injustice and hardships, but it is up to you to make of your company a failure or a success. Believe in yourself and take one step at a time: victory is measured by how hard you work and this will provide you with an opportunity like no other to prove it to yourself you too can succeed.