How To Expand Your Business Into Overseas Markets

By Jennifer Robson

Going global is a significant undertaking for any business but can be even more significant for small businesses.  So getting it right is vital.  Undoubtedly going global will disrupt your existing business activities in some way; your resources and team will be affected. So its crucial that business owners determine the full impact of an international move before jumping in feet first.  You need to determine if the rewards outweigh the risks. 

Taking your small business global is a complex process, which requires planning and research. Before you begin you need to gain a better understanding of your target markets.  It is useful to conduct market analysis and comparative market analysis to help you to understand the pros and cons of your strategy.  You also need to understand your best route to market and analyze different approaches to understand which is the best fit for your company.  You may find that you need to take a different route to market in each new target country. 

Before going global, it is critical to understand what the full impact on your business will be.  Due diligence is critical.  Think about the impact of the new venture on your whole business.  If you suddenly get an increase in sales can your manufacturing processes cope? Do you have an internationally focused sales team? Will you need to change your office hours to accommodate new time zones? How will you deliver customer service across borders?

Planning tips

  • Prepare a market segmentation analysis to determine if your product will sell in the local market.
  • Prepare a product gap analysis against local products. Is there a demand that is not satisfied by a local company?
  • Your product will likely be higher priced than local products. Will the market buy your product
  • Consider market opportunity/sizing. How big is the market and how long will it take you to capture your targeted sales?

Each market has its own nuances due to economic, cultural, governmental, and market conditions.  Before you begin working in a new market create a business plan.  The business plan should integrate with your existing business plan and outline the impacts and how you intend to mitigate against any threats.

One of the major factors to consider is your team.  Who is going to run the new business venture for you? How will they work with your existing team? What skill sets do you need? Do you need to recruit locally? How will you do this?

During your research you should have analyzed your products fit for the market.  Now’s the time to make any necessary adjustments. Be sure to review government and industry-specific regulations to ensure that your product or service is compliant.  You may need to obtain country specific certifications. Pay close attention to the translation of the name of your product in the local language. Do you need to make adjustments to your branding and packaging? Consider a local logistics and distribution network. Who will sell your product and how will it get to them?

Next you need to determine how you will sell your product or service in the new market.  What’s the optimum sales model? What’s the best marketing channel? Do you need an Omni channel approach?

As part of your country business plan you should also develop a finance strategy and predict your profit and loss.  Develop key performance indicators, which can be owned by your local team.  Also develop KPIs for your existing team to encourage the two to work together and support one another. 

Expanding your business overseas is not for the fainthearted, but for most businesses it offers far greater opportunities for growth than limiting yourself to your domestic market. With the right strategy “going global” can produce great results.

For more information about how Routes and Branches Limited can help your business go global please contact Jennifer Jennifer@routesandbranches.com.