Thanks to culture, infrastructure, technology, and political climate, the world is more connected than ever. While having an international presence was once reserved for large corporations with ample finances and influence, the growth of global interconnectivity has led to an increasing number of small companies doing business internationally.
It’s easier than ever to start a business with a global presence regardless of the industry or size, so if you have a local company but see the potential for expanding, here are some things you should know.
1. Do your market research
It might sound like an obvious step, but most people don’t do thorough market research before expanding. In most cases, it all comes down to superficial data or basic observations anyone can make.
Large corporations invest millions in market research before expanding into different markets. Even though you can’t do this, you must invest time and effort to learn as much as possible. Apart from learning about a specific market, you should also compare different markets to find the best place for expansion.
Here are some of the things you can do to get relevant data:
- Do surveys.
- Interview customers and potential prospects.
- Collect data about the competition.
- Find relevant statistics.
- Learn about your target audience.
- Analyze your reports and data.
2. Make online security a priority
Since you are expanding your business internationally, you will have added security concerns. More specifically, you will likely have teams worldwide working together to help you break through into a different market. You can also find it necessary to have global country managers dealing with other markets.
That’s why most companies today transfer a lot of processes online, including communication, management, finances, etc. It’s vital to keep your information safe online and ensure none of your personal and business data are exposed.
First, you can make it a rule that all employees download VPN apps to secure their connections to the internet. All your teams should use it, or it might leave gaps in your security. On the other hand, you can use password managers, cloud storage, two-factor authentication, reliable antivirus software, etc. A VPN should be used on all unfamiliar networks when transferring sensitive information or performing keyword research for different markets.
3. Adjust your brand for local consumers
Just because your brand resonates with the local market doesn’t mean it will be as accepted in other markets. The images, practices, marketing, and messaging you’re using in Europe might not be so successful in the US.
It’s not about changing your brand completely, but you must adjust to the local “climate” and give the audiences what they want. Here are a couple of things you should do:
- Adjust your articles and blog posts.
- Create a separate app for that market.
- Create a different version of your site.
- Adopt presentations and marketing visuals.
- Adjust prices and key messages.
Your key selling points also must be different sometimes. For example, you might be winning in your current market by offering the lowest prices. However, customers might have more money in other markets but are looking for specific product features that aren’t currently offered.
4. Find a good market for your products/brand
Just because you’ve set your eyes on a specific market doesn’t mean it’s an excellent place to expand. As mentioned earlier, you should research several markets and compare them to see which one has the most potential. However, the job doesn’t end here, and you will have to consider other things.
For example, some countries have strict regulations about foreign companies, and you might not be able to set up the operation you’re planning. On the other hand, if you depend on local suppliers, you will have to find the right partners to give you the services you need at an affordable price. Thus, you need to develop a strategy for global expansion.
Apart from potential business partners, you should also look to engage with the local professionals and find potential employees. Is there a workforce available in that market, and do they have the knowledge you need to get things started?
These are all things you need to consider before making your decision.
5. Check out the local laws
Every country has its laws, bureaucracy, and regulations you must consider. If not, it could turn into a minefield that brings your business down. For example, not knowing the local laws might lead to breaking them and being fined or even forced to close.
In other words, you could lose a lot of money without any results to show, but knowing the local laws could bring you advantages and help you find investors, government funding, tax breaks, etc.
These are the five crucial tips for expanding your small business. Of course, you should do many other things, like creating a payment system that allows you to accept payments in different currencies and move finances internationally.
However, we feel these five core elements will help you set up a healthy foundation for future business growth.