International expansion is a must-have for online businesses looking to scale. While today there are many tools and factors that make it easier to expand globally than ever before, it’s still not easy. Be prepared to face obstacles but be ready to enjoy increased revenues. Here’s a short guide that you can use to see if your online business is ready for global expansion.
Learn the Market You’re Planning on Entering
There’s a lot to consider when entering a new market. Factors like culture, language, and local regulations shouldn’t be overlooked. No two markets operate completely the same, even if they have a similar culture or a shared language. You’ll need to be great at what you’re doing in one market in order to succeed in another. If your business has a shaky foundation, take the time to tighten things up before expanding.
A strong high level of operations paired with localized operations are the perfect marriage for global expansion. It’s best to have a team on the ground or a branch of your operations team fluent in the relevant language – localization goes a long way to build trust. You’ll need a localized touch for marketing as well. Brand recognition and reputation management will be key to your success. This needs to be carried out by locals that can really feel out the market.
If you’re not ready to build your own team from day one, start out by working with a successful local marketing agency. This brings us to our next point…
Have Strong Working Relationships with Vendors that Operate Internationally
Make sure you’re working with vendors that have strong international networks so you can leverage their existing relationships to succeed locally. Your expansion will be most successful if you’re able to capitalize on not only your partner’s existing connections but also their resources and knowledge. Especially at the beginning while you’re slowly gaining traction, you’re going to end up needing to depend on the business relationships you have with those who are already established globally.
Ask questions and seek out advice. It’s a great way to vet your vendor as well. If they can’t help you, it might be wise to reconsider their international capabilities. Granted, don’t expect to get detailed legal or tax advice from your marketing company.
However, your payments company should be able to give you guidance on setting up a local business. Helping you navigate the different regulatory considerations as it pertains to making and accepting payments per major global market (*wink* *wink* – here at Praxis, we help you with this!).
Have a Strong and Solid Strategy in Place
Aside from knowing where you want to go and having the right relationships in place to ensure your success, you’re going to want to have a strong strategy and a solid business plan in place. Make sure you have someone strong at the helm of this project. Many companies have success by putting a proven senior executive to start things off while the company gets up and running in a new region.
That person can then take the time they need to get things established. Setting up the team according to the company’s protocol, and then finding the best local team.
Each market will have its own set of challenges and opportunities. Ever-changing factors including economic standing, culture, government and market conditions. Make sure to do your research thoroughly and to develop a highly localized strategy that’s based on your corporate strategy and objectives.
Bottom line is that you’ll need a strong business to start. And possibly an even stronger plan and local strategy defined in order to succeed. You’ll want the right team. You’ll need to rely on partner vendors initially, leveraging their existing relationships and know-how. Eventually, you will have those things in place. Then, you can expand your business into new global markets knowing that you’ve set yourself up for success.