Being global isn’t just for those large firms that have considerable resources to open up locations all over the world. Now, taking your company global may seem as easy as offering online access to your products and services. At the same time, there are actually some complex issues involved in taking a small business global, involving the need to understand varied local markets, trends, cultural nuances, and government regulations.
Here are 8 tips to follow that can make growing global as smooth as possible:
1. Learn the language and culture.
If you plan on being physically on site in other countries, it helps to learn the language and culture of the areas where you are selling. Even if you are only serving these other areas through an online platform, it makes sense to offer a website in those languages plus familiarize yourself with the local culture to include that in how you interact with customers in those areas. If you can’t learn the language and culture, you can consider outsourcing these tasks to local freelancers who can provide their expertise to help you blend into these markets.
2. Get to know tax codes, regulations, and compliance issues.
Other countries have taxes, regulations, and compliance issues that are quite different than those in the U.S. They also tend to vary widely from country to country. Selling in a country may also involve a local business partner, bank account, business status, and product requirements. Make sure you get to know what these are prior to investing in any foreign areas. Ensuring you understand all these issues in advance and follow them will enable you to launch your business in these countries without any difficulty.
3. Study the local competition.
Don’t assume that new global markets will instantly want what you are selling because they may have local brands they already trust and you are clearly not the recognizable brand of a Starbucks or McDonald’s. You’ll have to work harder to convince the local markets that you are trustworthy and better than local brands. This means studying your competition and determining where you can differentiate yourself to gain the advantage.
4. Partner with global financial solutions for payments.
Dealing with foreign currency, currency exchange, and various tax systems can be confusing and problematic for a business that wants to expand globally. However, partnering with companies that use digital payment technology and that provide alternative solutions for international payments can solve this issue. These top payments providers not only ensure compliance and security, but they also provide more payment options for you to accept, which means you’ll be able to attract more global customers.
5. Hire a good local team.
Part of taking your company global is having local talent on the ground that can help you tackle many of the aforementioned issues related to entering a new market. This local team can help with hiring, cultural adjustment, legal requirements, and even marketing messaging that would engage the local audience. They also may have business contacts and language capabilities as well as connect you to local sourcing for materials that would be of real benefit to you.
6. Carry your brand through but adapt some of your marketing strategy to the local environment.
Global brands maintain their identity and attributes around the world for consistency. However, when it comes to other aspects of marketing, it’s important to determine where adaptation is necessary to address cultural norms and truly engage your audience with products that meet local needs and tastes.
7. Take the time to do due diligence.
Don’t rush the idea of taking your business global when there is so much to consider. The best tip is to really due your due diligence, consider all the possible scenarios, research how your business might respond to various environmental forces, and consider trends and changes at work. This includes preparing a gap analysis and a SWOT analysis. By doing so you will be able to get it right and truly leverage the potential advantages of international expansion.
8. Formalize your global expansion with a strategy and business plan.
Even though you are an established business, you will still want to create a business plan that describes how you will expand on an international level and approach various geographical markets whether you are doing so online, offline, or both. The strategy and business plan must integrate with your overall corporate strategy and objectives so you can identify places where capabilities can be leveraged for both local and global markets. There also needs to be a budget, timeline, and set of measurable goals that can be assessed periodically.
While it may seem like considerable work – and it is to a certain degree – these actions can raise the likelihood of success on a global scale because of the degree of preparation, thought, and planning that has gone into it.