On the whole, the world has never been more connected. For business owners, there has never been so many opportunities for internationalisation, with many international markets, untapped business trends and new business partners up for grabs. With small and medium sized businesses growing in size, they are looking for ways in which they can expand and grow their international customer and client base.
Do you think your business could benefit from internationalising its operations? Have you uncovered any potential business opportunities that are available in other countries? If so, then you may be wondering how you can go about tapping into these markets and internationalise your business. Let’s take a look at 6 steps you can take when looking to internationalise your business.
Choose Your Business Export
The most common strategy to use when it comes to internationalising your business is to assess the export of goods. Businesses can be involved in both the direct exportation and indirect exportation of products overseas, however indirect exports are the least demanding in terms of the impact on your business, but can be the morst precarious. This is because they don’t relate to the outlet market or the final consumer when compared to direct exports.
Decide On Your Expansion Country
By using accurate and reliable metrics, you can evaluate the attractiveness of each country’s market, looking for the best fit for your business products and services. The following factors will come into consideration:
- Demand for your specific products and services
- Country-specific regulations that would affect your business
- Tax Issues
- Certificiation and Licensing
When you’re carrying out your research, be sure to keep in mind that each market is different and you should avoid making any assumptions. If you are considering expanding into Europe, you shouldn’t assume that Italy would be the same to France, for example. Treat each country’s market as an individual market and find out everything you need to know. Don’t follow your competitors into the markets they’re operating in, as you may find that it’s something that isn’t working for them.
Work Out Your Financials
Once you’ve got an idea of where you’re planning on expanding your business and know which products or services you’re going to be exporting, it’s important to sit down with your accountants and financial team and work out exactly what your budget is and, in the worst case scenario, any losses that you can realistically cover should something not work out.
The last thing you need before you are ready to expand is to undo all the progress you have already made with your business. When you do expand, should all go well, then demand on your business will increase massively, so you will need to ensure that you have the capacity to deal with this expansion. As well as business costs, there are other financial elements that you will need to take into consideration, such as additional wages for new members of staff, larger office or warehouse space and further business costs, such as energy and electric.
Choose The Right Insurance
As well as this, with expanding your business you will also need to ensure that you have adequate insurance that covers everything you need. This is such an important thing to invest in for your business. You need to protect your business anyway, but when you branch out into international markets, this is more important than ever. If you’ve never worked in international business, then you are likely to face issues that you might not ever come face to face with when just trading in domestic markets.
To ensure that you are choosing the right insurance to cover all aspects of your business, you may need to speak with experienced brokers who can cover different areas of your business. For example, if you work on a credit basis, then a broker who specialises in credit insurance is recommended, whilst you’ll also need professional indemnity insurnace and political risk insurance, depending on the markets to which you are expanding.
Consider Setting Up A Franchise
A franchise is a way for businesses to distribute products or services through a franchisor. Franchises work by developing the brands name and trademark, allowing the franchise to reach areas where they may not have considered previously, whilst seeing revenue increase. Some of the biggest names, such as McDonalds, Subway and Starback operate on a franchise basis.
Depending on your business model, considering the launch of a franchise might work wonders for your internationalisation plan. Remember, franchising isn’t just for big brands. More and more business owners are making the decision to turn their business into a franchise model and there are several reasons why you may want to consider franchising your small business. These can include easy access to funding, running multiple locations across different regions without the worry of doing it yourself and increasing your ROI.
For many small businesses, making the decision to franchise is a no-brainer when it comes to succeeding in international markets. When you need growth and customers, franchising your businesses can be the best solution, but that’s not to say it’s without its challenges.
Look At Your Marketing Strategy
For a smaller, national business, your current marketing strategy may be working well for you in its current format. But, if you are considering reaching out to international markets, it could be a recipe for disaster or not allow your business to grow at the rate it deserves. With marketing, what works well in one country may not work in another, so getting your marketing team together to look at international campaigns which may be successful in other territories is highly recommended.
Again, depending on your business model and the services or products you offer, you will need to find out which strategies will work best for these, as well as for international markets. For ecommerce products, paid social media strategies will likely be more successful, as your marketing team can tailor these to deliver to audiences based in your new targeting territories. You don’t need to relocate for this either, as it can be done from any location.
Organic marketing, including SEO, can also be done from your domestic territory and can help to optimise any new websites for your new locations. However, you may need to consider hiring someone or working with a marketer who can speak the native language, as sometimes phrases and wording can change and be interpreted differently. If you write content or carry out keyword research in your native language and interpret it through an online translator, phrasing and wording changes can be missed.
If you decide to set up international marketing teams, then look to keep all teams working closely together for brand tone of voice and marketing guidelines. You don’t want the marketing strategies to be too different in terms of appearance, as customers or clients may get confused if your international websites are different.