Introducing a business to a new country is very much like starting from scratch with a brand new company. Though a company may have experienced wild success on a much smaller level, the array of factors that could make – or break – an expansion make the process far more daunting than many are comfortable admitting.
Taking time to contemplate the advantages and disadvantages of expanding is easy. Contemplating the logistics of expansion are a different matter entirely.
Before you take the plunge and decide to establish an international presence, it’s vital to consider every possible expense and to create contingency plans that can account for anything that goes wrong. Deciding if you expand to reach new markets is a process in and of itself. When a business expands to cover new markets, a great deal of stress is put on the company.
Where is the highest demand for my product?
If that isn’t abundantly clear, then consider where the demand can be highest. Check out competitors and their respective products in the areas, and compare it to what your company has to offer.
Consider the average income of citizens in the targeted country. Can the citizens in the target country afford to purchase what you have to offer? Understanding the structure of the community, and the targeted audience in the country you are bringing your product are crucial aspects of the planning process.
Can your company adapt its product to the particular wants and needs in the targeted country?
Your business will need to be flexible with its offerings in order to take advantage of the target country’s business opportunities and in many cases that involves tweaking the product to fit local culture/needs. Communication is important, and languages may serve as a barrier between receiving valuable input from customers, and having that input lost in translation.
How will expansion affect my business at home?
Poorly run international expansions can drain the company of cash. Considering that an expansion to a new country involves vast amounts of red tape, leases and foreign advertising, it’s impossible for the business to simply cut-bait and come home without losing a significant amount of money.
Do I need a partner?
Partnering with a local business in the region where the expansion is planned is an interesting way to establish a local presence. Finding someone that you trust to hold up their end – especially in a country to which you are unfamiliar – is particularly tough. Having a trustworthy partner in the area, however, can be invaluable to the success of the project.
Is my business financially stable enough to expand overseas?
Accounting for moving costs, leases, paperwork and government permission, expansion can be an expensive process. While the opportunity for accumulating new business is abundant, it’s far from a sure thing.
What kind of presence is necessary to succeed in the target country?
Thanks to technology, it’s possible to establish a presence overseas without actually having to be there. Setting up an international toll-free phone number and having all calls forwarded back to your home base replaces actually having to set up a call center in the target country. Marketing with websites trafficked by locals is a way to get the word out, and services like UPS and FedEx make shipping overseas relatively simple. It’s all a matter of how the community receives your business, however.
In many cases, having an actual representative present in the country does far more than having potential customers go through a maze of call centers to reach your company.
– Sloan McKinney’s main interests lay in international business relations, technology and communications. She also contributes to the blog on TollFreeNumberNow.com to share her knowledge about globalization and the advantages of establishing an international presence.
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