“This is a very exciting time in the world of information. It's not just that the personal computer has come along as a great tool. The whole pace of business is moving faster. Globalization is forcing companies to do things in new ways.” - Bill Gates
Taking your business global is only a natural leap to take in an era that screams “globalization”. And why not?
With widening global markets, cross-cultural and economic amalgamation, and most importantly, easy accessibility to information, going global is no longer a dream or a reality only for the big players.
Having found sustainable success in the home ground gives one enough ambition to explore uncharted territories.
Having said that, not every business leader who sets sail in foreign waters finds a safe harbor. Before such an undertaking, leaders of the company must determine the range of opportunities and challenges that will be encountered during the course of the venture.
If you are envisioning expanding beyond your national borders, considering the following prime factors will help minimize the risks and increase the probability of your business hoisting its flag in the global market.
1. Count the Pennies
New markets are expensive to target in terms of effort and the capital. Business owners must have a good vision of the investments that will be required for initial research and consequent growth in business operations.
Determine the source of your investments and ensure to refrain from eating into the finances meant for local business operations. Nothing can be more detrimental to your expansion plans than disturbing the pace of a well-established native business.
Overhead costs for marketing and advertising, promotional events, distribution, sales, labor cost, packaging, etc., differ among countries and should be efficiently determined for the one(s) you wish you take your business to.
Aiming for quick ROI can be disappointing and one should plan for the long haul for long-term growth. Develop a budget for a specific number of years (your research should fetch you the ideal number), and perform regular reviews of the operations once you have hit the ground.
2. Analyze the Scope of Demand for Your Products/Services in the Chosen Market
The initial hunch that got you thinking about expanding your horizons overseas may actually hold true. However, your decisions need to be based on tangible data and facts. Determine the scope of the marketability of your products or services in the target place. Study in-depth about your competitors and the positions they enjoy in the industry.
Dig deep into product gap analysis against the existing products and determine how your product will withstand it and pose a healthy competition.
It will be feasible to introduce a few products or services to begin with, rather than going full throttle and unleashing all that you currently sell in the native market. This will simplify the analysis of progress, costs and benefits, and aid in streamlining future marketing strategies to fit the bill.
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3. Leverage the Power of Internet
As Bill Gates famously stated, “If your business is not on the Internet, then your business will be out of business.” Relying on the experience of the world’s richest businessman can add value and wisdom to your outlook.
With nearly half of the world’s population reported to have access to the Internet by 2018, one can only imagine the power and the impact of the virtual world on entrepreneurial ventures. Exceptional efforts must be deployed to increase the digital presence of your business, especially in the target location(s).
It has become a natural instinct over the years, for people to explore information online. Expand your presence on popular business sites through high-quality content development and projection. Invest in SEO to make it an integral plan of marketing and brand promotion.
Most importantly, let your website be your biggest communication tool. Web sites do create an impression on stakeholders and you need to hit the nail on the head with this one. Hire experts to help you achieve this if you must.
4. When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do
Understand the cultural norms and practices of the targeted country before you develop your marketing and advertising strategies. It is crucial to address the cultural needs of the consumers and speak to people in the language they best understand.
While people in some cultures prefer being straightforward and keeping just to the business aspects, stakeholders from other cultures are happy to build a rapport before they can trust you with their needs.
Considering this factor is important when planning to set up customer support teams. Your executives will do well if they are able to communicate in the local language. Promotional materials can be published in the regional language to increase outreach. You can also go multilingual should your budget permit and business demand so.
While staying true to the overall brand is crucial, be0 open to tweaking your products to suit the local needs. Providing the customers with a sense of belonging will help you hit the right notes.
This list of McDonald’s menu from around the world, for example, explains its secret to global success.
5. Ask the Experts
Hire local consultants to outsource the task of collecting essential information about taxation, government regulations and policies, popular corporate locations, work visa norms, offshore company setup, labor laws, and every other information you would require for staying within the legal and social limits.
You will also need to verify the product’s compliance with industry specifications of the region. Government and industry regulations vary from one country to another. It is wise to ensure that your product meets all the local regulations, and you may need to reach out to consultants to check for certifications the business might require.
Establishing and sustaining a clean image is imperative and experts can protect your vulnerability that probably may arise from your lack of experience in the chosen market. Consultants can help you achieve compliance, thus, keeping penalties and unpleasant surprises at bay.
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Going global is a different ballgame altogether as compared to running a business within the familiarity of the homeland. It is critical for business owners to determine all the risks that come with undertaking such a valiant initiative and work towards achieving rewards that outweigh the challenges.
Devise a plan to pool in those extra hours and gain the support of your team members, who work with equal passion for making the process smooth and successful. Finally, as Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”