Planning Your Overseas Expansion

If you have fine-tuned your business operations on a domestic market, it may well be time to take it to the next level and reach out to a broader, global demographic. There are going to be lots of things that you will need to research and understand when it comes to expanding overseas, however, you may find that for your business, the positive results that you can achieve will greatly outweigh the stress and effort of setting yourself up for expansion.

Is Your Business Scalable?

One of the first things that you will need to ask yourself will be whether or not your business can handle expansion. There may be a great many challenges that go along with expanding your company’s operations to incorporate overseas trade. If there are problems that currently exist that impact the time that it takes to do anything, or that has any negative impact on trade, it is important that you address these immediately before scaling up your operation. Any issues that you have now will be magnified and repeated as your business expands, and you may never be able to eradicate these issues that will have a profound effect on your business’ bottom line.

Researching The Market

It is crucial that you understand everything about the market that you are entering. Try and find out what type of government they have and what their view of overseas business is. Some countries may welcome global brands, while others may be more restrictive to show favor to their homegrown businesses.

Cultural differences should also factor into your considerations. What is the market interest like for your products and services, and are there any historical, cultural, or religious factors that would impact on you being able to offer these in the countries that you are looking into?

Find out who has a similar offering in the market that you are considering. Work out what their strengths and weaknesses are and try and work out the threat level to your business. How well known are those brands, and will you have difficulty attracting customers who may be loyal to them.

Dealing With Strange Currencies 

When it comes to financial matters, you will need to understand global exchange mechanisms. You will be dealing with a variety of currencies. You may need to receive payments in the currency of the company and as such will need a bank account that can handle this. You may need to open an account in the country itself as there may be a necessity to do this. Alternatively, you may be able to use global accounts with financial exchanges to transfer money to the usa.

Knowing what the exchange rates are on a daily basis will be important as this will greatly affect the value of your products and services.

Trade Restrictions 

You will need to do a great deal of research into all of the areas of regulation surrounding trading within the countries that you are looking at. If you were to purely ship goods from your domestically run website to an overseas customer, what import and export duties would apply. If you were to open up a distribution hub overseas, how would that work in terms of taxes and running costs?

Some markets, such as the European Union will have a set of regulations that will apply to other member states. Understanding the trading arrangements between your country and the ones that you are looking at trading in is vital.

Speak with the trade departments of the national embassies, and do plenty of research into the full costings along with any legal requirements surrounding the products and services that you hope to supply there.

To Have An Overseas Office, Or Not?

Many companies will choose to open up and office in that country. This will help them to manage their business better there as they will be closer to the action. Doing this may open you up to different taxation, however, it may be something that is promoted in the country that you are looking to operate from, and from a purely logistical point of view, it can be beneficial to have a team working out there. Recruiting nationals from that country will mean that they are likely to understand their native market better than you will and can provide valuable insight.  You will need to find ways of communicating effectively with that team without you having to spend a great deal of time out there.

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Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli

Very informative and insightful. Thank you.
Working globally requires a lot of attention not only on the organizational aspects.
The gap between the rules at home and how we need to act in a foreign culture is a question of considerable importance. Some aspects are even fundamental to know how to move and face meetings of any kind, above all at work. In some cases, those of complex cultures having the support of a local expert can make the difference.
We can cite several examples, but we must respect the limits of space, so I will cover the subject in several parts
Think to the professional training across the culture. It can be very tempting for trainers to take for granted that, as their tried and tested methodologies have been proved to raise standards of excellence at home, the same metod should be adopted worldwide. It is believed, erroneously, that there may be some initial cultural resistance but, in the face of excellent results, people will soon get used to “our way of thinking and operating”!!! Instead, the opposite often happens: if certain ideas go against deeply held cultural values, they will always be adopted under duress and that will inevitably create a stressful working environment. A really, effective, training program will take this into account: listen and adapt itself to the opinions of local managers. The watchword must be: to know and respect local cultures.
Another example is the “Power Distance”, the extent to which people accept respect power difference, the level of importance that is given to the degree in corporate and social hierarchies, but also social. In an increasingly globalized world of work where you have to work with people of different ethnicities and cultures, this variable, or rather, this “value” (because that is, especially for those countries where the PD is high) it can affect the organization of work, the relationships with subordinates or with high levels of the company with which you have to work. So, it is really important to get to know this particular aspect of the country in which you have to work.
Even arguing across cultures can be a problem: some people prefer to resolve conflicts with the direct approach by talking clear, while others prefer the metaphors and turns of phrase. Knowing how to juggle between these differences is essential not to offend the interlocutor, especially when it comes to business.
Also the system for transmitting information of each culture should be respected. To cite even some cases rather extreme, but not at all isolated, it is opportune remember that, for example, in some countries the level of literacy is minimized and, therefore, all knowledge is handed down orally. In these cases you need to be able to transmit stories instructive to those who must listen.
These are some aspects, but there are others that I have not mentioned.
They are fundamental questions as much as the organizational and so-called “technical” issues that concern the activity carried out.

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