It can be quite exciting to take your business abroad. But what if you’ve never attempted an expansion of such scale? What steps should you take for successful and profitable growth? Here are just eight tips for going overseas with your company.
1. Pick Your Market
Where do you want to expand? Why do you want to expand there? Examine your reasons to make sure they have a legitimate basis beyond “I’ve always wanted to live there.” Your target country should bring some kind of benefit to your company as a whole: For example, they might have a great untapped market for your product.
2. Know the Customs
The Japanese never refer to their business associates by first name. The Swedish see lateness as a grievous sin. Before you go overseas, make sure you understand the social, corporate and cultural traditions of the region. You don’t want to lose an investor by offending or misunderstanding anyone, especially when so many faux pas are completely avoidable.
3. Find Distributors
You’ll need to roll up your sleeves when it comes to finding distributors. While some connections can be forged through social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, most are still made face-to-face through expos, conferences, trade shows and even referrals from other people in your industry.
If your international partners want to take you out for a drink, it’s imperative that you accept their offer. Not only will this deepen your bonds of trust and friendship with them, but exploring the area will also give you a greater understanding of your new consumer base, too.
5. Get Online
In the 21st century, it’s pretty much impossible to do international business without having an established web presence. You should strive to do more than just the necessary, however, by making yourself a driving online force. Get on social media; start a blog or website; understand the platforms on which business is moving. Industry experts like Shahram Shirkhani can serve as a good example of this.
6. Consider All Aspects of Distribution
You’ll often need more than just salesmen in your new country to give your business a foothold there. For example, if you’re selling software, hardware or any kind of technology, you’ll also want to establish tech support for customers who have a problem with their gadgets.
7. Prevent Double-Dipping
Many international distributors have their thumbs in multiple pies, so it’s important to draw up a contract that doesn’t allow them to sell a competitor’s goods. You might also want to add stipulations for sales goals, advertising budgets and minimum monthly shipments. You don’t want your product to fall by the wayside when your partners make new deals with other foreign companies.
8. Check In
Your partners should be giving you monthly if not weekly reports on your business. These reports should include everything from sales numbers to customer demographics. It’s absolutely critical that you keep a sharp eye on how your business is doing in the international market, especially if it’s your first time going overseas with your product.
These are just eight tips for expanding your business across international waters. It can definitely be a challenge, but if you plan carefully and choose the right partners, it can also be the best thing you’ve ever done for your company.