Once you’ve grown your business to the point where you have a solid foothold in your market, the next step might be to venture out into an international market. If you are ready to bring your products or services to new markets, there is much you need to know before choosing where you’d like to get a foothold. Here are four tips to help you expand, which can also help you decide if the time is really now, or if you need to accomplish a bit more before expansion.
1. Physical vs. Online Commerce
Before deciding to set up a headquarters in a new country, you might want to investigate the possibility of ramping up operations where you are now but selling online. In today’s global marketplace, you don’t need to have offices in every country you do business with. It could very well be that you can manufacture products right where you are and just ship overseas.
This could save huge sums if at all feasible. While labor may be cheaper on foreign soil, what is the cost of setting up a new manufacturing site or showroom if you aren’t making your own products? That should be a prime consideration. Yes, there may be a market abroad but does that market demand your presence?
2. Prepare for International Currency Transactions
The next item on your agenda should be in deciding how well equipped you are to deal with international currencies. Converting from the GBP to the USD is easy because that is a currency pair that is dealt with every day. The same goes for the Euro and the GBP. However, what if you find a market in Thailand or Bali? Do you know what the rates are and how much you should be spending?
If not, the time to do so would be now so that all those currency conversions are done silently in the background. You need to pay international suppliers and employees the same day and you may also need to receive direct payments the same day. Cashflow is vital to your ongoing operations, so if you haven’t got the finances sorted out, you’ll want to do so sharpish.
3. Bridging Cultural Gaps
According to experts in international marketing, bridging cultural gaps may be one of your biggest impediments. It is recommended that you alter your pitch to fit the market. They may love what you have to sell and, in fact, may have a real need for your product, but if you can’t pitch it in terms they understand, you may lose an entire market.
Also, remember to track any advertising campaigns that you have launched. What works well in your host country may not work so well internationally. Use a tool like Ad Watcher to monitor your ads and increase your ROI internationally.
4. Be Ready to Find Last-Minute Funding
Finally, when you expand operations, there will always be those last-minute details you hadn’t budgeted for. No matter how thorough your planning, something will almost always come up that demands funding you simply don’t have available. You can check all your accounts in one place in real-time with your Bacs software, but if you don’t have enough capital in all your accounts, you’ll need to be prepared to find financing so that your new venture doesn’t fold before it has even launched.
Perhaps the biggest question is still going to be whether or not you want to open a physical location overseas or if you want to continue operations where you are now. In many cases, you may not need anything further than office space in countries where you intend to market your products. Just remember, any time you need a physical location you will also need to acquire all the permits and licenses required by the host country. Take time to analyze whether you really need to be on location or if your sales staff and purchasing department can travel. Going global in a digital world is easier than ever before, so keep things simple and you’ll do well.