Are you thinking about branching your company into overseas markets? Doing so provides an entirely new pool of people for significant growth, but it’s important to plan in advance and understand the challenges – from cultural differences to language barriers – to ensure a smooth transition. Read on for tips on how to expand your business internationally, or if your business is online and trades in goods only, then check out our Ecommerce International Shipping Guide.
Do Market Research and Customise Offerings
New markets provide their own risks and rewards, so expanding your business overseas requires considerable market research and caution. Make sure you learn about similar goods or services that may exist there, e.g., is there a need, do they already have it, and how can you improve on that? Don’t just go by a country as a whole either, make sure you break down the regional interests, so you can pinpoint where the greatest alignment for your business may be.
Messaging and marketing is also key in international campaigns – your current strategy may not work in a new market, which means that testing prior to implementation is essential. There will likely be language barriers and cultural differences to consider too, so check your understanding of the local customs, and adjust your business plans accordingly – whether that’s offering remote offices with local speakers across varying time zones, or a tweaked product/service to reflect a particular community’s purchasing habits.
Try International Expansion In-house
To grow your business overseas, one option is to try an in-house management approach. This allows you to develop your own expansion structure, based on your own wants, needs, and/or limitations. However, this can be very open-ended, and requires capital, patience, commitment, and planning. Ensure you set a firm checklist, including:
- Setting a clear path: Where do you want your business to go, what are the goals, how will you reach them, and is the whole company on-board with the expansion?
- Forming a plan: Have you undertaken sufficient research, will you need to expatriate any employees, and how will you deal with overseas regulations? (e.g., barriers such as linguistics, laws, or financial hurdles)
- Reviewing your current state of business: Have you decided who will lead the international expansion? Is it financially viable, and do you have the right technology?
Any method of international expansion should be pursued logically and adhere to your brand standards. If you haven’t already, create a brand book which can be followed not only internally, but also by international partners if you decide to venture into forming partnerships (see below).
Form International Partnerships
Another method of international expansion is to seek out reliable partners who understand your desired market, are familiar with the local sales channels, and can help you integrate with the regional aesthetics. This is particularly valuable for smaller businesses who may not have the capital needed to establish themselves alone – and in some cases, partnerships are even legal obligations (e.g., in Saudi Arabia, non-Saudi companies need a Saudi partner to begin business).
Most of the time, it’s incredibly beneficial to work with a partner to avoid unknown or unnecessary pitfalls – as long as you share a common set of goals and values. Be careful not to approach this with a purely transactional mindset, as though this can boost short-term sales, it can negatively impact long-term consumer perception if not managed sensibly. Partnerships also require compromise, and may take away some of your control, so it’s key to research all of these potentials beforehand, and check that they will work with your own business model.
If you trade in goods only, exporting is one of the most common ways to expand your business internationally. It’s a simple entry mode into overseas markets, and the most obvious advantage is that your business will avoid the expenses of establishing a subsidiary in the new country.
While exporting goods is popular, keep in mind that it still represents a significant investment. It can take time researching a reliable shipping company, the costs of transporting goods can be high, packing needs to be carried out properly, and environmental factors may impact your goods (meaning insurance is usually necessary, an additional cost).
You’ll also have to contend with any duties charged on exported goods, and manage customs paperwork properly – both of which can impact sales profitability. If you want to read some success stories, and learn which UK industries were the most successful in exporting in 2022, you can find out more here.
Looking to expand into international markets? We offer a professional commercial shipping service for overseas exports, and a secure facility for storing them at Riverwalk Business Park. Contact Andrews Shipping today.