We live in a day and age where starting a new business is no longer the strenuous, convoluted, exhausting and complex process it once was. Technology and the internet have opened doors to anyone that has just a small idea they want to run with. But once that idea has successfully grown into a fully-fledged business, our natural desire is to see how far we can take it. It is only natural to want to expand and grow and envelop an entirely new audience that wasn’t before achievable. But this is where the battle really begins.
Launching a business is the easy part. Taking hold of a bigger market share and becoming and presence in the international market is incredibly hard. There is just so much more you have to be aware of and account for. It is just being able to upscale and cater for increased orders, it is a matter of knowing what the international business protocols are, how the different cultures may affect your approaches, what the consumer trends are of each different region and what social economic and political challenges may stand in your way.
As such, we have come up with a list of things to consider when thinking about expanding your business overseas.
There is no denying that you have probably become prolific when selling your business services in the past. But growing into the international marketplace will see challenges arise and that is because your approach will need to be tailored, adjusted and amended to meet the local standards and expectations. That means you will need to know what requires altering. It could be the way in which you present, the content of what you demonstrate, the focus of your points and just about anything else.
It could be that you are used to giving detailed pitches over the course of an hour to an hour and a half, which would not be acceptable elsewhere. In fact, a lot of places may require you to sell yourself in less than thirty minutes, which means tightening your delivery to just the need to know facts. That is why doing your research is so imperative before it comes to pitching your reasons for growth.
While there are definite benefits to both of these, it may be that the territories you are looking to expand into having a certain preference of doing things that will allow you to succeed more smoothly. I could be that certain European companies prefer you to have everything in-house to avoid security breaches that they associate with using external bodies and companies that will have to be carefully vetted before handling sensitive data.
However, it could be that other territories and investors would prefer you to have close relationships with external people that are experienced in the global delivery of certain business facets. As such, it is worth having close relationships with a managed services provider, suppliers, and agencies. It could also be of a huge benefit to building your board to include executive and non-executive directors with a broad range of experience, and possible even a wide range of language skills to aid your argument and ability.
It can be so easy to forget the success you have achieved at home simply because you are focussing on the market you are looking to enter. So many businesses have faltered here because they ignored the success and the story that got them as far as they got in favor of trying to prove they have what it takes. But all too often great business acumen comes from past experiences. That is why it is so imperative to remember that your prior success can be used to breed new success. You have a track record of success, so to ignore this would only harm your expansion plans.
As a general rule, if you can prove you have a great track record in a significant market then use that as a grounding. The fact the results can’t be proved in the local territory, or with the local consumer trends, is irrelevant. Sure, the results can’t be guaranteed, but the results you do have are far better than no results at all. When attracting new relationships or new business, any strength you can exert will be worth its weight in gold. Success anywhere can be used to market success elsewhere, remember that.
We don’t mean become fluent in every market you are looking to expand into, we need to learn what certain things can mean. Mistakes among cultural communications are bound to happen, but it is the little trends that can help you work out what progress you are making. It doesn’t matter where you are heading, or what nationality the people you are meeting with are, there will be different ways of saying things and different ways of doing things.
One of the biggest things you will come to notice is that certain things can be misleading. For example, Germans are very straight talking, and that can dishearten you a bit if you are not used to it. The British are too polite, so they will say what you want to hear to your face and then tell you the truth later on. In America, when they say ‘that’s fantastic’ it may well mean ‘no’, you can’t be sure. So while it may seem you are closing in on a deal abroad, the truth may, in fact, be further away that you realized. That is why it can be so beneficial to learn some of the colloquialisms, idioms, and expressions. It will let you navigate the new landscape a bit better, know where you stand, where you can tweak your approach, know what works and what doesn’t and get a grip on the lay of the land, all of which can be the defining factors in success or failure.
At the end of the day, you are going to need to make the new market say wow, and that means impressing them and sticking in their minds at the end of the week. As such, it is so crucial you leave everything on the field, so to speak because you only get one shot at a first impression. That is why it is always better to go big. Sure, you may not get it right, but confidence in yourself and your abilities is a universal language that can’t be ignored.
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