Local to Global: Managing the Expansion of your Business

All businesses should have an eye on growth, it’s an important consideration and allows you to make the most of your success.

When it comes to growth and expansion, the ultimate plan involves heading overseas. Reaching out to another country is a tricky, time consuming and costly process. Done well, it can open up huge growth. Done badly, it can bring ruinous financial issues.

So how do you make sure your expansion is more about the former than the latter?

Here’s what you need to consider:

Know your brand

Before you go abroad, you need to be sure of who you are and what you stand for. You’ll probably have set this out at the start of your business journey, but now is a good time to revisit and reiterate this.

You also need to consider what this means in your target country. How do you want your target customers to see your brand? What about your brand will resonate overseas? This might need to be subtly different. Sometimes marketing messaging, colour schemes, packaging designs or product descriptions need to be tweaked to suit the tastes of your new customers – not least if there’s a language barrier to overcome.

Know your audience

There are two sides to your business success story – you and your customers. Without their money, there is no success to fuel growth. It’s one thing getting your brand messaging nailed down, but that work needs to go hand in hand with an in-depth understanding of the market you’re targeting.

You need to visit your target country and speak to the people you want to sell to to make sure you understand your market. You can’t assume that customer expectations will be the same as what you’re used to. Find out what they want and what their competitors offer too so that you know what level of service they currently experience.

Know the financial risks

As well as researching the country and your audience it’s also important to research the financial impact that comes with moving abroad. That’s especially the case when it comes to tax. Each country has its own rules on this and it’s vital that you know the full extent of what you’ll have to pay – both in terms of set up costs and ongoing obligations.

It’s also important to consider security. When you’re managing money and transactions that cross time zones and continents you have to be especially careful that you’re handling it all as safely as possible – and that you don’t rush into activity that really leaves you open to criminal activity. From cyber software to fraud-proof paperwork, this needs to be at the forefront of your thinking.

Test the water

With all the risks involved, you need to be really sure before you begin your overseas. Test the water by entering into a short term trial – and don’t sign up to a long-term arrangement that would be costly to exit.

Look at cost effective ways to use social media and online tools to promote yourself too. You can start to see the level of interest in your product or service by dipping your toes into the water online and could even begin by simply offering a better delivery service into a new country so that you can reach new customers without needing a physical base. For more tips on how you can use the internet to promote your business, click here.

By testing the water, taking time to understand tax rules, researching your audience and translating your brand message you’ll be ready to go global.