Expanding your business internationally can be both rewarding and overwhelming. The United States market is extremely large for almost any product or business, but for an ever-increasing number of businesses, expanding to international markets is the next logical step in continued growth. For those growth-minded entrepreneurs, the opportunities in foreign markets can be exciting and very profitable. Some of the advantages of expanding your business internationally are:
- Extending the life of a product and/ or service by establishing new markets to offer the product and/ or service in
- Reducing the business’ dependence on the markets in the United States
- Tapping into markets with different seasonal influences if the current markets are affected by seasonal changes
- Taking advantage of new pools of workers with varying experience and skills
- Gaining knowledge about foreign markets
The primary goal in expanding your business internationally has to do with growth and increases in profit. There are many fast-growing markets that are attractive for United States businesses to expand to. There are opportunities worldwide to sell products and services, but finding the best foreign market in expanding your business internationally involves research, analysis of information, and a lot of careful work to get started. Some of the questions a business owner should ask himself or herself in considering markets for expansion are:
- Will our product or service sell well within a specific culture?
- Is the target market that is under consideration for expanding your business internationally already familiar with the type of product or service you offer?
- Do you have a level of comfort within the potential market and/ or country?
- What type of infrastructure does the foreign market have?
The idea of expanding your business internationally may seem extremely overwhelming at first, particularly for a small business, but a great number of small businesses take the challenge every year and many succeed. Some of the most important steps in expanding your business internationally include:
- Writing an international business plan to evaluate the needs of the company, list goals, milestones and have this all outlined prior to making the commitment to grow internationally.
- Completing research into the foreign market.
- Carefully evaluate and select which methods will be implemented in the distribution of the company’s products in the foreign market. This could include working with agents and distributors or possibly setting up joint ventures.
- Learn about cultural, economic, social, and legal differences as they relate to the business and figure out best practices when setting prices and negotiating with any business-related suppliers and other contacts.
- Look into financing that may be needed in order to make expanding your business internationally possible.
- Complete research to ensure packaging and labeling of products is in line with regulations in the foreign market.
One of the biggest challenges in expanding your business internationally is related to the differences in culture. Many of the businesses that do not succeed in global expansion attribute the lack of success to not having done enough research in relation to the foreign market they are venturing into. Understanding business etiquette, language, body language, and business culture differences with respect to negotiations can make or break a deal.
Hiring an international business consultant that is familiar with the target market may be a company’s best option to ensure the proper research has been completed and the company is entering the market with full knowledge of the opportunities and how to best take advantage of those opportunities in a way that is successful for all involved.
Expanding your business internationally may be the best way to grow your company. The U.S. market is big enough for small businesses, however, others set their sites on larger endeavors beyond the U.S. market. The Internet is having a significant impact on the way international business is conducted. Once a company has completed their research and identified their next steps, establishing international toll free numbers through a provider like Global Call Forwarding could be a wise choice in opening communication with those in the new foreign market the business is entering. After all, communication is at the center of any successful business model.