As startups begin to experience consistent growth and success, there can be an expectation of leadership to seek new ways of increasing growth and revenue. One of the logical and attractive options for a business looking to take things to the next level is to expand its customer base by entering a new market overseas.
Opening your business to international markets opens you up to potential expansion and growth. But while taking your brand overseas can be an appealing prospect, the journey to international expansion can be tricky, and will require careful navigation and planning.
Here are a few important factors to take into consideration when opening your business to international markets.
Provide a reason
The first step is to provide reasons for expansion and the effects that come with it. There are a few questions you need to answer before you proceed.
- Will the product or service sell in international markets?
- Would you be able to educate customers in case your target market is not familiar with the product or service?
- Are there possible infrastructures in the new market to accommodate your product or service ?
- Do you have the financial resources and man power to penetrate a new market? Getting into a new market is a major project which requires huge long-term commitment of time, finances, and other resources.
Once you have answers to these questions you can proceed to building a structure around exporting your product or service.
Research your target market
Conduct a market research and identify the international markets that would be favourable towards your product or service. If you are unsure of the market to expand into, you can explore using the tool Market Finder . It would provide you with your top recommended markets and a short statistics on the countries selected (household net disposable income, ease of doing business rank etc.)
You also need to consider the challenges of expanding into the new territory — finances, projections, cultural differences such as language. It is very important that you know the impact of going global in your business.
Before you expand, you need to find the right partners. The popular saying ‘No man is an island’ definitely applies when trying to expand your business. Know when you require advice and help.
Seek local perspectives and engage the services of local professionals and experts for tax, legal, human resource, marketing, and even distribution issues, and consider which elements are best outsourced e.g. payroll.
Adapt to your new market
You may need to adapt your product or service to the needs of your international customers. Therefore, your organisation would have to include certain policies that go in line with your target market’s local customs and laws. Hiring a country manager is always a key step that businesses take in order to ensure the development of their business overseas.
Run the right operations
At this point, you would need to ensure that your entire operations are scalable. From when a potential customer sees an advert to when they make the purchase. A smooth operation guarantees customer retention. If your product already has issues locally, it might not be a good idea to scale your business internationally.
Finally, develop an entry strategy. Set goals, objectives, targets, develop and test marketing strategies, and establish periodic success metrics/KPIs while making sure you have sufficient business credit to complete your market launch.
- Identify the reason(s) for the expansion
- Research into the target market
- Build relationships
- Adapt to your new market
- Run the right operations