When you have a small business that you are looking to expand and grow, then taking it to international waters can seem like the logical step for a number of business owners. As appealing as it can seem, there are a lot of things to think about and it can be a long and arduous journey. From advertising and marketing to being able to establish a base of customers, to learning about new laws and legal regulations in different countries, getting some partners to work with that are trustworthy and understanding how local businesses work is important but can be difficult.
Some businesses will be simpler to take overseas than others. Some are more set up for it, and if you’re a serial entrepreneur, you may already have a knowledge of establishing your business in other places. There are a number of things that you can do to help, such as getting the help of the country’s leading customs broker to deal with customs overseas. However, before you take the leap to expand your business overseas, there are some important factors to consider.
Is the business ready to expand internationally?
As much as you would like to take your business overseas, is it really ready for it? You need to ask yourself this question in order to see if you can really be ready for business abroad. As much as you think that the product or service that you have works, and if it has a proven track record where you are currently established, it doesn’t always follow that a new country will work just as well.
Taking a business and scaling it to a higher level overseas and over borders can be a complicated process, as well as being something that is expensive to do. This can take time and resources away from your own business, as well as away from other opportunities that you might have already. For these reasons, a business needs to look at whether or not it is going to be beneficial to them to expand or not, or if it will just be something that will detract from their core or original business. Ask yourself if the business is better to serve one country well, or several countries but not as well.
The challenges of international business
All decisions for your business come with some hurdles to overcome. But expanding the business on a global level can bring with it a quite unique set of obstacles. So with that in mind, here are some of the challenges that you are likely to face when it comes to expanding the business on a global level.
Language and cultural differences
Unless you are based in the US and expanding the business to other countries like the UK or Canada, you are likely to encounter some problems with different languages and cultural differences. Having staff that you trust that are bilingual is one of the keys to make this work, but the recruitment process can be long, so it is definitely a factor to consider.
International compliance and regulatory issues
When you expand into a new country, you still need to make sure that you are doing things by the book. That can mean learning what the tax codes are in that country, as well as other legal legislation, business regulations, and things like shipping or packing standards that can vary from place to place. Compliance to all of these things can be one of the biggest headaches that there is when it comes to expanding the business overseas.
Your product or service may do well where you currently are, but it isn’t always going to be easy to persuade foreign customers to have trust in your brand when they don’t know you, or especially if there is something similar already out on the market in their country. Some brands will have gained a good reputation that will have been heard of overseas, but a lot of other companies, especially smaller ones, will need to work harder in order to get that trust and recognition needed to work well. So doing your research into the local competition is important, to see if it is worth your time doing what you are doing.
Expanding overseas is something that can work so well for some businesses and really launch the business into becoming a global brand. However, it won’t work for all businesses, so you need to be realistic with this and ask yourself the hard questions before making a start.