Deciding to expand your business overseas is certainly exciting, but it’s a bold step and one that’s sometimes made too early. With the correct preparation and a high-quality product or service, however, it’s one that all stable and growing businesses should contemplate. The opportunities are certainly out there.
Booming markets in the Pacific are among those making it a very tempting prospect. According to financialexpress.com, the Indian economy could have expanded more than five per cent in the second half of FY14 alone, while China has the fastest growing consumer economy in the world. Talk about striking while the iron is hot!
Although it’s not a decision to make lightly, many businesses find that the potential upside of stretching their boundaries far outweighs the risks. To help with this we’ve put together a few questions you should ask yourself if you’re looking at the possibility of expanding your business from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
- Is the business ready to expand overseas?
Before making the decision to go international, ensure that you’re stable at home. It should go without saying that your business must be somewhat financially healthy, but day-to-day operations should also be running smoothly in order for you to have the time to focus on a new endeavour. If the business will continue to flourish even without you babysitting, it could be the right time to expand.
- Do you have the right team in place?
Businesses that successfully begin to operate in new territories manage this thanks to a combination of strong leaders and a qualified team that’s committed to accelerating growth. If you’re in the enviable position of being able to hire or reassign senior employees to oversee your international efforts it’s because you already have a fantastic team in place that are invested in the company’s success.
- Will your marketing strategy adapt to different cultures?
You wouldn’t be considering international expansion if there was not an untapped market present for your product or service, but many countries expect businesses to fully adapt to and cater for the local culture. This includes ensuring your website correctly translates into different languages. Also, businesses must develop a well-researched understanding of the needs and pain points of local prospects, then adjust their online messaging to reflect this. It could also necessitate a complete rebrand of your packaging.
- Can you adjust your payment platform?
Just as you will need to adjust your marketing strategies, you will also need to ensure that your website is set up to maximise payment options for international buyers and improve their user experience. This could also help ensure you’ve minimised the risk of online fraud. A secure and robust internet payment platform allows online customers to select their preferred currency in which to pay. In addition it could introduce online consumer authentication, fraud management services and real-time credit and debit card processing.
- Are you able to stay ahead of regulations?
Researching the area and having an understanding of what needs to be done is a must. It can take time to start selling overseas and a main factor for the delay is the challenge posed by international laws. Trademarking, licensing, testing and packaging laws will vary from country to country, so rushing into something can be a dangerous game. There may be changes to your tax position or financial restrictions which could hinder you down the line, so if you there are things you are unaware of don’t be afraid to seek advice.
- Have you considered partnering up?
Many companies will partner with a reputable business already operating in the region to speed up the process. By doing so you’ll gain access to their knowledge, as well as parts of their infrastructure which can enable you to reach a selling position which may have otherwise taken months to achieve. Teaming with a well-known partner can also boost your brand awareness, instil trust and build rapport with potential buyers.
It seems there are plenty of opportunities in the international market, then, at least for those who approach global expansion with enough careful consideration.
Author: Jack Stanton