you're reading...


Global Goals: Is Your Company Ready to Expand?

Going global is not for the faint hearted. You’ll have heard how many businesses fail when they dare to venture overseas, with even hugely successful businesses misjudging their approach on foreign soil. However, for those that get it right, the pay-off is substantial.

A brand new market, swathes of new customers, access to cheaper inputs and the kind of diversification that safeguards against vulnerability are all strong attractions for those thinking of trying their luck abroad.

But, if you’re considering expanding your business offering overseas, there are a few tough questions you’ll need to be able to answer first, some of which are outlined below. The questions below don’t relate to profitability or forecasting, as it’s assumed that you’ll already be in a good financial position before you contemplate investing in international expansion. Instead, consider your expansion from the perspective these questions suggest, and resist the urge to continue with your expansion plans until you’re able to articulate clear and convincing responses. 

Do you know why you want to expand?

Before anything else, make sure you can identify why you want to expand abroad. It’s likely you’ll have a particular goal in mind – for example, do you want to earn new customers? Do you want to lower the costs in your supply chain because you know that the inputs are cheaper elsewhere? Make sure you can point to some clear reasons in response to ‘why’, as without identifying solid reasons for international expansion, your business certainly isn’t ready for it.

Have you done your market research?

Next, you’ll need to have spent some time conducting in-depth market research. Having conversations with business contacts, suppliers and even potential customers are all great places to start, and on-going discussions with these individuals will serve you well. However, market research requires thorough investigation, proper analysis and both qualitative and quantitative research. It will require the tenacity to keep challenging your assumptions and conclusions, as well as challenging commonly held misnomers. For example, there’s no such thing as conducting market research into the ‘American market’: as proper market research will show, America is a patchwork quilt of many different markets to be understood. Make sure your market research is thorough and accurate, appointing someone to conduct primary research as well as a desk-based research if you can’t do it yourself.

Have you found some allies?

Before you expand internationally, you’ll need to find one or two entities to ally yourself with, such as local business owners, suppliers or government groups. That’s because they’re likely to be able to give you some of the vital support and information you need in order to have a fighting chance of success in a country they know better than you do. So, find government groups or a specialist business to help you understand the long list of requirements you must comply with, right down to hiring employees in the right way.
For example, if you’re thinking of setting up in the USA, a company like Foothold America would be well worth talking to.

Have you developed an international brand?

Next, take some time to establish whether or not you’ve established a strong international brand. The reason for this is that you’ll need to maintain a corporate identity across every country you operate in. However, you can’t simply ‘copy and paste’ your brand into another culture and hope it works. That’s because typography and even the very colours used in your branding can mean something different in another language, which can mean the brand you’re presenting in your current market may not be so well-received elsewhere – particularly if the culture you’re entering is very different to the one your brand is currently established in. So, set up a team to develop your international brand, paying particular attention to how it might be received in your intended country of expansion, as well as countries you hope to expand to in the future.

Have you solidified your plans for decision making, resourcing and manpower?

Finally, your company is only ready to expand if you’ve solidified some plans for decision making, resourcing and manpower. That’s because you’ll need to appoint someone to represent your business abroad (if you can’t do it alone). This person must also be capable and trustworthy enough to make key decisions in the country you’re venturing into, and potentially a strong enough candidate to head up new offices, meet new suppliers and be the face of your company to your new customers. Of course, you’ll need total confidence in this person in order to hand them so much power and responsibility, so do consider whether or not your business is in that position before you venture abroad.


No comments yet.

Post a Comment


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: