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Expanding Your Business Overseas: What You Need To Consider

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Running a business is a game of continual growth. What most business owners are seeking is the secret formula which will allow their enterprise to rise forever. While this may not always be feasible, seeking constant improvement is important if you want to get ahead in the world of business. Competitive as it is, you need to do everything you can to have that edge on your rivals. If you achieve this well enough, then your business will prosper. There are many signs to look out for to know if your business is prospering. Most of the time, you will just have a feel for it. The balance sheets look right, the employees seem motivated, the customers are happy. When you achieve this holy trinity, you know something is going right.

It is tempting, during such times of booming business, not to touch anything, in case it breaks. At times like this, the phrase ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’ comes to mind for many business owners. However, the only way that you achieve continual growth is by introducing new elements into the company. One potential way to do that is to expand your business overseas. This is no small decision; it should not be taken lightly. But if your business is succeeding, and you would like to continue it, then expanding abroad may well be a viable option.

Let’s have a look at some of the things you need to consider if you plan to expand your business overseas:

Figure Out If Your Business Is Ready.

So, business is booming and everybody is happy. Well, everyone except your competitors. It only seems natural that the next step should be to expand to another country. After all, the nature of business these days is that it is global – is it not? True, if you want to enjoy continued success, then expansion may well be necessary. But the first step you need to take is to ensure that your business is actually ready for such a dramatic move.

Expansion of this scale can be a fairly heavy upheaval, even for the strongest of businesses. The entire process takes time, manpower, and no small amount of revenue. So how do you go about working out whether your business is ready for expansion? Let’s have a look.

The first thing you need to look for is whether you have a solid foundation here at home. Without something really bold to fall back on, your entire enterprise could crumble overnight. It has happened to some of the best in the past; it could happen to you. Ensure that your home operations are as good as can be, first. Second, work out whether you have the financial resources to carry out such an act. Check through the budget a hundred times if need be – is such a move viable for your business? If it fails abroad, will you still be able to keep things afloat back home? This is important.

It is about working out whether your business has the strength necessary for international expansion. If there is any doubt whatsoever that it does, then wait a while. Don’t go straight into the deep end just yet. However, if you are convinced that your business can take it, then read on.

Get To Know The Culture.

One of the most important aspects to expanding a business abroad is getting to know the cultures involved. Many business owners have attempted expansion into other countries without learning about them first. Invariably, such attempts fail. Not to know the culture you plan to operate in is a most foolish act indeed. It would be like going into a meeting without having researched the executive you will be in discussion with. Any business owner worth their weight in salt knows the importance of research. With international expansion, it is more important than ever.

Spend a good deal of time – and money, if you have to – getting to know everything you can about the culture you are moving into. In some circumstances, it won’t be that much different to your home turf. However, if you are expanding from Europe into Asia, say, then things are different. Knowing the culture inside out is beneficial on all levels. In the meeting room, it means that you won’t carry out any unconscious faux pas. In customer interaction, you can ensure that everybody is kept happy all the time. Brand awareness is never more important than when a company moves into a new country.

On top of these basics, do your best to get a solid image of the country’s stance on different issues. Learn about recent history, political movements, cultural trends. The more you understand about the culture, the more you show respect to its people. This is both morally right and good business practice.

Learn About The Competition.

As a business owner, you already know the importance of getting one over on your competitors. This can be difficult enough at home, with all the benefits that working in your own country affords you. Think, then, how much more difficult it is when you are a new contender in a foreign country. If you are offering a product or service which already exists in the new country, then you are likely to turn some heads. Existing companies within that country will no doubt look upon yours pretty unfavourably. There are a few ways to make the most of this situation.

The first remedy is to research the competition before you go. With enough knowledge about them in your pocket, you can be careful about your marketing strategy. Done right, you can insert yourself into the market without treading on too many toes. Alternatively, you could take the bolder approach, and confront the competition head-on. Do this before you set up in the country, as a mark of politeness. Getting in contact with your competition is a show of respect which many will appreciate. At the same time, remain open to the possibility of partnership. It is possible that one or two of the existing companies will want to partner up with you. There is every likelihood that doing so will result in a huge initial boost for your business. What’s more, you will not be upsetting the competition too much. This can be a clever way to ingratiate yourself into a foreign market subtly.

Get The Logistics Right.

Once you have worked out your plan of action, you need to get down into the nitty-gritty and work out the details. As with any project, proper planning is the key to success. It is no different with a project of this size – in fact, it is considerably more important. Before anyone takes any action, you need to sit down and work it all out with as much diligence as you can muster. There are a lot of different elements involved in a process such as this, and most of it is part of the learning curve. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at some of the major aspects involved.

When you expand into another country, it is unlikely that you will source new materials in that country. Sometimes businesses do this, but only if they have a huge amount of expendable cash behind them. In most cases, it is cheaper to simply transfer it all. To help with the delivery of goods, you should consider looking for companies that provide freight exchange like Return Loads in order to find a suitable courier.

How you do this depends on what countries you are moving between. However, your best option is probably to use a sea freight with JS Forwarding. With this method, you can ensure that everything arrives safely and on time.

As well as the physical transportation, you need to remember the other side of doing business: your digital information. Your business’ data is one of its most important assets. As such, it is imperative that you keep it safe. Remember that, in a new country, you might have to be more careful with how you protect your data. Businesses have suffered from data loss during transit in the past. Don’t let it happen to you.

Remember To Readjust.

Finally, a point to remind you of the importance of holistics. Too often, businesses expand into other countries, only to forget about the original setup altogether. Or, the opposite happens. The new offices are set up, and then all the executives stay home and forget about the new. Sometimes, this is because the business owner believes that things will take care of themselves. This could not be further from the truth. Once you have expanded, you have twice the work to do. You cannot treat your two countries as two separate businesses. They are one business, and you need to give them equal importance. Otherwise, all that will happen is that one will fail. And when one fails, the other won’t be far behind.

You need to readjust your business’ strategy after such a big change. Things won’t just carry on as normal. Take the new changes into account in all your big decisions. And remember: you now have even more red tape to consider. Ensure that you are bearing in mind all of the bureaucracy of every country you operate in. The last thing you want is to get in trouble, anywhere in the world.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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