If you are wanting to grow your business, you may be considering expanding your products or services into global markets. Executing this level of growth requires careful planning and a dedicated expansion team. The following overview of key business expansion steps may help you begin moving beyond your current market boundaries and into the exciting world of global commerce.
1. Assess the Current Market
If you are venturing into global markets, you have probably already researched your potential client base within your overseas target markets. A detailed analysis can help determine whether changes or additions are necessary to make your product or service attractive to overseas clients. For example, if your company writes instruction manuals for electronics, you will want to evaluate your potential client base to discover what format and level of detail are customary. Original research in the form of focus groups and surveys can be helpful in evaluating how international market needs may differ from your domestic status quo. In addition, market distribution research will help you hone in on the most lucrative regional targets for marketing your work.
2. Evaluate Your Personnel Readiness
Before you invest valuable resources in overseas markets, it is wise to evaluate your expansion team, periodically. It helps to identify any areas that need additional support staff or new resources and implement the needed changes. Even a small vulnerability can cost you when the stakes are global.
As an example, global markets bring communication challenges, and being prepared in this arena will streamline your expansion goals. Eventually, you may have plans to hire staff from within the culture of your target regions. For the purposes of the expansion and transition, you may want to hire some contract staff members to assist you with understanding the culture you will be entering. Hiring a local expert from the business sector you are entering may help smooth out any cultural or political issues that arise in the expansion. Having translators on staff can make initial meetings run much more smoothly. A strong personnel infrastructure is essential to a successful transition overseas; it can provide you with invaluable resources throughout your expansion process.
3. Develop the Funding for Expansion
It’s exciting to grow your business, and often owners jump the gun and try to accomplish more than the current business structure can support. Global expansion requires significant capital, and it’s recommended that you have adequate funding in place ahead of time. A comprehensive business plan will help you determine the range of capital needed for your expansion plans. Conventional funding sources you might pursue include lines of credit and business loans. Finding a lender that specializes in global business expansion can be an important resource and lead to additional helpful contacts. Grants are available for global business expansion through various entities. Hiring a grant writer to pursue that avenue could prove lucrative. Finally, it can be beneficial to approach some potential investors who may have an interest in your target markets.
4. Consult with Experts
With a little research, you can locate businesses that have successfully expanded their enterprises, globally. Learning from others’ successes is vital for large business ventures. Inquiring about what has and hasn’t worked for other companies can yield important information that may inform your development process. Business owners are often generous in sharing their experiences, and there are plenty of business leaders out there like Sjamsul Nursalim, a tire industry owner who has enjoyed great success in global commerce. Mr. Nursalim is one of the wealthiest people in Indonesia as a result of his ambitious expansion efforts. It may prove beneficial for you to hone in on two or three business owners who have successfully moved into global markets and ask them if they are willing to be interviewed by you or your staff.
5. Assess Needed Product Modifications
The variables that arise with international expansion are both exciting and challenging. You may find you need to alter your product design or content to accommodate transportation, regulatory or cultural factors. Other countries may have very different safety or quality standards that require you to make alterations to your product. For instance, if you are a furnace manufacturer, you will likely need to research temperature and blower standards, translate instruction manuals, and convert units of measurement to match the destination markets. It is also important to make initial alterations to your invoicing structure to integrate international currencies and languages.
Taking on a commercial expansion into global markets is an exciting prospect that requires multiple levels of analysis and consultation. Evaluating existing market success, consulting with successful global leaders, and preparing your staff and product line are a few of the essential practices that can place you in an ideal position to successfully implement your expansion plans. With adequate preparation, going global can be as rewarding as it is challenging.