If setting up a successful business in one country is a difficult thing, then spreading out your operations across national boundaries is more difficult still!
The advantages of trading overseas are likely to prove attractive for many businesses, however. It’ll provide you with access to new markets and new talents, and you’ll get a chance to diversify your investment, and make yourself more resilient to shocks. It might be that your adventures in foreign countries provide you with the inspiration you need to make changes closer to home, in which case your business as a whole might benefit from the new challenge.
So how might you prepare your business before you take it global? Let’s look at a few of the challengers you might face, and the strategies you might use to get around them.
Learn the Language
If you can personally speak the language of the country you’re going to open up in, then your chances of success will be much greater. But learning a language from scratch takes time and energy. Hiring staff who are multilingual will help you to get up to speed much more quickly, and ensure that all of your content is ready from the word go.
Different markets have different social and cultural mores which will need to be respected. This respect should extend from the products you sell, right up to the methods that you use to sell them. There’s no point in trying to set up a food company in a country whose residents abstain from pork for religious reasons. Where marketing is concerned, it’s a mistake to assume that whatever works at home will work the same in a foreign country – have a strategy in place to identify all of the tweaks that you need to make to your website and marketing materials, ideally one that’s informed by consulting with local experts.
Start with the low-hanging fruit
There are certain territories which are easier to trade in, perhaps because they’re nearby, and because they’re culturally similar to the UK. Make a point of identifying these low-hanging fruit as a priority, and concentrate your initial efforts there.
Bring in a Consultant
Having access to specialised knowledge in expanding into foreign territories can be absolutely critical. The price of a consultant in global business operations can often be more than justified in the long-run, especially if there are technical dimensions to the move that you have limited knowledge of.
Visit the Country in Person
If you’re trading in a country you haven’t visited personally, then you’ll be putting yourself and the mercy of others. Your understanding of what you’re doing will be inherently limited – but this can be rectified with just a short visit.