If you have ever thought about expanding your business overseas, you may be putting it off because you imagine it to be an overly complex process. However, don't quit before you've even started because it may be easier than you think—and it could turn out to be a very profitable decision.
These days, there are a lot of benefits of expanding overseas, and there is no reason to stick to one market if you would rather expand into others. There is a growing middle class in many countries around the world, which provides more opportunities for you. In addition, the internet has simplified the process of branching out in many ways, especially when it comes to researching new markets.
The fact is, there could be a huge market waiting for you outside of the United States. And the best thing of all is that you do not need to be a huge multinational to contemplate expanding overseas—even small businesses can enjoy success in new markets.
So how can you go about expanding into new markets?
Narrow Down Your Focus
The first thing you will need to do is choose a market to focus on. Where to start? That is a key question, so during this stage you simply want to focus on researching various overseas markets and getting a feel for the possibilities that it could provide.
You may have read about the opportunities for certain industries in the newspaper, or a business contact may have made a recommendation that sounds positive. Carry out research with an open mind, and look at this as the fact-finding stage. Spend some time looking into various markets and get a feel for the potential that they could provide.
It can be tempting to assume that you can expand anywhere you want to, but you need to remain focused if you want to avoid spreading yourself too thin. You are unlikely to have the resources to focus on too many places at the same time, so choose one or two areas of interest and then start to look into them in greater detail.
Research a Specific Market
Once you have narrowed down your focus to one market, it's time to start researching it in more detail. Why have you chosen this market? What opportunities does it provide that make it a more tempting proposition than other similar markets? Do you have any connections in the country?
Look at the size of the customer base and the cost of labor, as well as other issues that are certain to affect the ease of establishing and growing your business in the country. What about the regulations and possible difficulties of doing business in the country, such as problems with infrastructure and regulations? Every country is different, and you may find that some markets are a lot more straightforward than others.
You will also want to learn about the culture and the way of doing business. Important cultural differences that may prevent your product from taking off in the way that you are hoping. This is a good time to start speaking to people who live in the country and getting specialist advice from them. Entrepreneur.com has some more good tips on going global, so take a look at these a well.
The key question you want to answer is: Will your product sell? The answer to this question comes in the form of detailed market research. Speaking to local people is a good place to start, but once you have decided that the market in question seems like a tempting proposition, you will need to start thinking about carrying out more detailed research to help you decide this.
Make Local Connections
If you do decide to branch out into the new market, you will need to rely on local experts who can advise you on a number of issues that you will be unfamiliar with. It is never too early to start making connections, so make this a priority once you are serious about branching out into a new market.
If you want to get a better feel for the country, you may want to visit it yourself for a few days. When you arrive, look out for any potential barriers, such as language, cultural, and legal barriers that could become issues for your business. Local experts who understand the process will be valuable and can help you to avoid making serious mistakes. Also find out whether you will be able to hire skilled local professionals who can help you to expand, or whether you will need to send your own people overseas.
Work on Your Local Strategy
Once you have chosen a market, you will want to come up with a local strategy. The different economic and market conditions, as well as cultural differences, may mean you cannot simply copy your current strategy in your new market. Come up with short-term goals and long-term goals, and make sure they are reasonable. You should also decide whether you will need to establish a separate company overseas.
Organize the Logistics
When you are ready, you will need to figure out how to actually get your products on sale. For example, will you manufacture them in the country, or will you ship them over? Moving your goods will require meeting all the local regulations, and these will be different everywhere. You should also get information about exporting your goods, and a good place to start is Export.gov. If you are in the UK, take a look at the government's guide to exporting.
You will also need to work out all the details about transporting your goods, including packaging details and down to which stainless steel bands you will use. These are all things that you will want to consider as early as possible to assist your move into your new market.
There's No Reason Why You Cannot Expand Globally
You may not be a multinational, but that is no reason why you cannot expand your operations overseas if you spot an opportunity that you want to take advantage of. Expanding into new territories takes a lot of work and careful planning, but the rewards involved can make it very worthwhile. Just make certain that you spend an adequate amount of time on researching your new market and planning the process of branching out, and you may find that it turns out to be a very profitable move.
Author Bio: Steve Smith founded http://isostainless.com/ ISO, It Straps On, Inc in 1994. Based in Louisiana, and using stainless steel from U.S mills the multiple award winning company has grown to export its stainless steel products worldwide. Steve likes sharing his knowledge of the industry and giving tips on exporting by writing articles for a variety of business and industry related blogs