Small businesses often do not want to stay that way for long. They look to expand as much as possible. If there are business opportunities in other countries, most businesses will consider global expansion. However, some businesses do not fully consider the implications of an international expansion for their business model. They do not analyze global markets they are moving to and the people they will soon be interacting with. The result could be failures and inefficiencies that doom the future of their business. Here are some tips to remember if you are planning an international expansion of your business.
One key step for growing a global business is research. While not every aspect of business in a new country can be perfectly planned for, an individual can at least become familiar with those business practices. Such research is easy in the 21st century. A business owner should start by searching online for the business practices that dominate the new country they are hoping to move through. Online forums help to show frequently asked questions and stories of previous failures from others who are moving into a new country.
In addition to free services, there are also more sophisticated publications and tools an entrepreneur can use to gauge where and how to move their business to another country. They can help a company subtitle a video that can be sent to investors or new possible customers. Gaining information helps entrepreneurs probe where to locate their business and how to market it for maximum effect in another country.
Another is building up an international network. In the United States, a professional network helps make a business work. Companies can subtitle a video that brings in new contacts and helps them win partners in banking, marketing, and real estate acquisition. Making connections with salesmen and manufacturers can bring an individual’s products to market at a reasonable level. Networks bring in proven talent at a lower cost than other staffing alternatives.
Professionals that have a personal relationship with an individual can help the person learn from their actions and make inroads in areas that they may not be familiar with. All of these skills are even more important in other countries. Foreign businesses have the same traditions of personal networking that the United States does.
Yet another important step for international growth is to acquire different perspectives on making money and doing business in other countries. Many countries have their own unique practices and social graces that people must realize if they want a successful business in them. They may have a team who all comes from the same city or university. The leading group of the company might have a single definition of how and where to work. These standards are far from universal. They can have the negative effect of embarrassing or annoying people from other countries where the company wants to expand.
Utilizing different perspectives is very underrated in today’s business ecosystem. But, as business practices continue to become more progressive, adding different ideas to the melting pot of international business is becoming more excepted. As it should be.
As Matt Marsh of Sorenson Capital said, “I don’t look at diversity as an ethnicity or gender question. I look at diversity as a thought question. Do you have people on your team that think differently?”
Watch the interview with Matt to learn more about why utilizing different perspectives is so important when expanding globally.
In some countries, companies work different hours and have different practices at work. For instance, the vast majority of American companies are open all year round with exceptions for national holidays. Customers expect these companies to be open and may punish those countries that are not open at those times. On the other hand, several countries in Europe believe in a long holiday around August where the vast majority of businesses close. These decisions make sense when a business owner takes on the perspective of a European who sees their vacation as a national right.
Companies also need to send out representatives to explore the new country months in advance of a potential move. Studies and research may be incomplete in gaining a full understanding of the decisions that need to be made after the move. A visiting delegation can personally visit a group of sites that could serve as a new location or headquarters. These individuals can send in reports about foot traffic, weather, transportation, and the local political climate. A company owner can then analyze all of this information back in their home country and use it for future planning purposes. All of this effort will pay off eventually as the company makes its transition to international businesses more seamlessly.
The final tip for any company considering international growth would be to remain flexible. No company should have a completely unchangeable plan when they begin to expand to other countries. They will still bring a considerable amount of their own economic assumptions and biases about business in the country. It will take time and experience to start adjusting to a new economic system. Owners will become familiar with the practices and norms of their new employees and customers as well. Therefore, owners expanding to new areas need to have an original plan that is updated periodically to reflect trends on the ground.
International expansion is a perilous decision for any company. No matter how large or small a company is, it is an expensive, frustrating step that can be inefficient and costly. Research, networking, and flexibility all help entrepreneurs weather the inevitable storm and turn hurdles into opportunities. With a little foresight and a lot of effort, many companies can successfully take advantage of the new customers and income that results from international expansion.