If you’re a business owner considering taking your company global, no doubt you have many questions. How do you decide on the perfect market location? How do you sort your way through local laws and regulations? How do you build a quality team from a distance?
When you expand on the international scene, you face numerous obstacles — but the risks can result in unparalleled profits. Going global allows you to survive local market fluctuations, and it helps you build brand recognition. Here are five steps to take in preparing to launch your worldwide enterprise.
1. Prepare an International Business Plan
You didn’t start your business in the States without a solid plan, and when you expand globally, writing a comprehensive one proves even more critical. Your overseas business plan should include:
- Product or service: Describe in detail how your product fills a specific need.
- Short-and long-term goals: How will you determine success? What metrics will you use to evaluate your efforts? If initial attempts fail, what is your fallback strategy?
- Business structure: Do you plan to open an overseas branch, or will you set up a different company altogether?
- Personnel: Will you give existing staff incentives to relocate, or do you intend to find staff locally?
Take your time in completing your business plan. The more detailed you make it, the more likely it is you’ve covered all bases.
2. Conduct Initial Market Research
Ideally, you plan to expand to a country you have familiarity with — but how much do you know about the local culture? Many American products sell well overseas, but cultural differences can result in embarrassing flops.
In conducting your research, stick with authoritative sources well known in the region. Consult multiple authorities, and avail yourself of translation if the information you seek is in a foreign language you lack fluency in. Check out the local competition, too — if you’re going to sell iceboxes in Siberia, it pays to know who you’re up against.
3. Study Local Employment Law
One of the trickier aspects of setting up shop overseas is researching local employment law. Other nations have different paid holidays and leave policies than the U.S. Most nations have some type of social security system that employers must pay into. For example, if you’re setting up shop in Poland, you should know employees must pass a health screening before accepting a position. In many nations, unions are stronger than they are in the U.S., so make sure your company policies mesh with what staff expect.
4. Consider Infrastructure
Many business leaders gravitate toward developing nations due to lower taxes and fewer regulations, but opening shop in a remote region comes with additional headaches. It’s difficult to construct a factory when inadequate dirt roads make transporting building supplies tricky. Isolated areas may have intermittent power outages that disrupt production. Before you consider opening your doors, travel to your destination and observe the conditions of roadways. Speak with locals about their level of satisfaction with their power and internet suppliers. Look for patterns — one or two complaints are normal, but a slew of gripes regarding frequent outages should give you pause.
5. Start Small and Grow From There
If budget is a concern, start your international business on a narrow scale and expand from there. Work on developing a small, loyal core of customers who will spread word of your awesome product to friends and family. Wow them with exemplary customer care — after all, starting an entity in a foreign country is the perfect time to improve public relations. As your profits grow, speak with your existing customer base to develop new ideas. Also, consider giving back to the community. Creating jobs is one way to do so, but you also can donate to local causes or rally staff to help out with cleanup efforts.
Taking Your Business Global Has Many Advantages
Expanding internationally allows your business to ride out changes in the local economy more smoothly. It helps build your brand reputation and showcases your stewardship on a larger scale. By doing diligent research and planning in advance, your overseas endeavors can take your profits soaring to new heights.