Businesses looking to expand are often faced with intense competition in their local space or can’t scale their company to develop additional products and services to get ahead. Instead of tapping into the American marketplace, growth-minded entrepreneurs can go global to expand the sales life of their existing products and services in new markets.
Making the leap into international waters may not be as difficult as you think. You may also discover you already have an international client base ready for your products and services. In fact, according to the Global Expansion Meets Domestic And International Challenges report, 54 percent of small businesses already have international customers, and 72 percent are poised to grow their international customer base by 2017.
1. Expand customer service efforts
Before you decide to start attracting foreign customers and investors to your business en masse, you need the customer service infrastructure to support it. But it’s not always about setting up a local team in your new global home base. A cloud-based contact center provider offers the support and infrastructure to expand to the four corners of the world for routing calls and keeping global teams connected.
2. Conduct foreign market research
Researching the demand for your product on a global scale is just the first step in readying your business for international success. You also need to develop new key performance indicators that reflect the international marketplace and evaluate your pricing model. The price you command back at home may need adjusting to meet the demands of the market.
Legal readiness is also crucial to fostering international growth in your business. Staying proactive about the government agencies and regulations of your new marketplace can help protect against unnecessary commercial risks. One place to start is reviewing the industry regulations of other countries to determine the certifications and documentation needed to run a business.
3. Review organizational readiness
Your product and service may be ready to hit the global stage, but is your staff? Evaluating the organizational readiness of your company includes sourcing top talent and developing a competitive salary and benefits program that retains them, Forbes says. Those areas go even deeper into local payroll and human resources functions and development to help stay compliant with local requirements when hiring employees.
4. Study supply chain considerations
Evaluating whether or not your supply chain can withstand the external and internal risk factors of expansion are key to global success. Study the environmental effects including natural disasters and epidemics that can impact your supply chain. There are also internal risks to consider including the hidden costs of transportation delays and warehousing needs. Without a comprehensive view of the moving pieces that can impact your supply chain, you’re likely to find holes in your meeting the supply and demand of your new markets.
5. Secure foreign financing
Your growth plan for international success requires the right financing. One option for overseas financing is the Export-Import Bank of the United States or Ex-Im Bank. This independent U.S. government agency has secured financing for over $300 billion U.S. goods and services since 1934. In addition to financing, the Ex-Im Bank offers U.S. exporters credit insurance to protect against non-paying buyers in foreign markets.
Expanding globally can breathe new life into your business and generate more revenue, but also comes with unique challenges that extend past customer service and foreign financing. Before you venture into international territory, you should also familiarize yourself with the cultures and traditions of your new market to help shape the messaging and benefits of your products. At the end of the day, meeting your customers needs whether they live next door or around the world is the real foundation for your business.