Going International for Small Businesses

Businesses of all sizes are constantly looking for ways to broaden their horizons and enter new markets.  Are you a small business owner interested in exploring the possibility of expanding your business internationally?

The allure of international markets is tantalizing.  It comes with challenges and uncertainties, but when successful, it can return tremendous rewards.

Are you looking to tap into new markets, reduce dependence on a single market or take advantage of cost-efficiencies in other countries?  Each of these takes a different market entry strategy.

Research

Perform extensive research into the market to determine if there is interest in your product or service and what the competition looks like.  Are there other businesses in your niche that are operating successfully?  Can you do anything to differentiate yourself?

Understand the local culture.  Take time to study local values, customs, and preferences.  Can you adapt your services to resonate with the local population?

Consult with Professionals

Many firms specialize in assisting companies to go international.  Talking with consultants or PEO Professional Employer Organization can highlight regulatory and other potential obstacles to entry.

These firms offer services to ease your entry into foreign markets.  Whether you decide to use them or not, they can help educate you as to barriers you will face.  You can take advantage of their experience in the country to craft your own plan.

These firms can also identify potential partners from technology, shipping and other infrastructure you will need.

Streamline Your Operation

Streamline your operations by finding and implementing the right technological tools to communicate and collaborate with your overseas partners.

The right technology will allow you to stay in better contact and it can save time and money on travel expenses.

Build Relationships

Networking is a key skill in taking your business international.  Search out people who have already done what you want to do.  See what type of advice and insight they can offer. 

You should also look to network with potential vendors and customers from your target country.  You can start by attending trade shows that attract foreign visitors.  Once you have established local contacts arrange a tour or visit, to get a look at the situation on the ground.

Localize Your Product

Language and cultural barriers represent some of the biggest challenges to taking your business overseas.   Look into what it will take to rebrand and relabel your existing offerings in the target market language.

If you can, learn the local language and customs.  If not, consider delegating it to a trusted staffer.  You can always hire someone with local knowledge and expertise to act as a guide to your localization efforts.  They can also act as an interpreter for meetings with foreign nationals.

Keep It Legal

When you’re ready to go, file the necessary paperwork to start your business. 

Keeping up with international laws regarding intellectual property rights can be tough.  You are going to need expert advice, someone who is familiar with the laws for that area.

Selling internationally isn’t easy, but it offers avenues of expansion you at least have to consider.

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