5 Things to Do Before Expanding Business Internationally

Five essential elements of expansion that have to be considered to increase rates of success


At some point, every business needs to consider expansion. While nothing guarantees success, knowing how to properly move across the waters can reap great benefits. One could potentially open its customer base to hundreds of millions of new customers. But like any new business venture, expansion poses risks and has to be executed with great care. Here are five essential elements of expansion that have to be considered to increase rates of success.

Make Sure You Understand Why You're Going International

The concept of increasing your customer base, brand and profit margin are obvious reasons, but what makes you believe what your business offers should reach across the globe? If you're not sure why you're doing it, you are more likely to fail. Choosing to grow because your home market has grown stagnant doesn't mean the same thing won't happen when you go abroad. If you want to expand an already existing customer base overseas, you have to know how and where you want to grow. The underlying reason can help develop laser-focused entry strategies, setting the right expectations for everyone from teams to stakeholders.

Thoroughly Research the Target Market

While you can't anticipate every scenario, you can minimize risk by studying the new market. Companies with expansion plans are often taken aback when competition unexpectedly evolves from areas not anticipated or by the consequences of local requirements that could have been easily investigated. Research what will be direct competition and companies that could be rivals. Look into customer behavior, needs and requirements. Have a fundamental understanding of the business and legal framework of the new geography. Surprises can be costly.

Design a Realistic Game Plan

Without realistic goals, you'll waste money, resources and time. The most difficult task will be designing a realistic strategy as there can be many variables, both expected and unexpected. It's not unusual to underestimate resources and end up draining them. Have backup plans should the expansion overrun or go in wrong directions. Know what you'd do if budgets went beyond plans or operations were being strained beyond expectations. Be flexible for redefining goals, for shedding costs as needed and quickly restructuring resources. Account for country-by-country taxes and fluctuating exchange rates.

Have a Strong Internet Presence

To fortify your international expansion, you are going to need a way to spread the word. That means giving any new targets the easiest ways to find out about your business. And there is no better way to do that than the Internet. You want a social presence and strategy that can quickly get your messages across. You want a website that incorporates the most advanced resources in mobility and unique tools like translation memory. Make sure your web presence takes into account the languages in the markets you want to break into. Your due diligence in this regard is going to be critical to international success.

Local Culture and It's Impact on Business Operations

You cannot afford to think about an international expansion as such. You want to localize your business for every market. That not only includes interacting in a target's language, it means understanding their shopping habits and tailoring services to their needs. You have to incorporate local payment services and manage support that fits local business hours. Establish how you can fulfill business interaction without completely flipping your own operations upside down which can lead to too many different processes and confusion. Explore and research, survey potential customers and make direct contact with local vendors, getting an idea of how they do business, what they know, hate and love, and how to work with them and support customers.

Going global is a big decision to make. But be sure before venturing outside your borders, you're fully prepared by knowing the target's culture, how to plan, the best ways to strengthen your Internet presence and conducting research that lets you set up the best strategies.

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