New opportunities to grow your business beyond your current market come up every day. How can both small- and medium-sized companies seize these opportunities to learn, grow, increase their sales, and retain customers? How can your business offer excellent service to customers across the world?

Opening an office in your preferred location is one method of expanding your business. However, there are challenges involved such as hiring a local workforce, initial investment costs, office costs, and so on. Not to mention increased marketing expenses in a bid to introduce your brand to the local market!

Why should you expand into new markets?

There has been an influx of small businesses across the US. Indeed, the number of incorporated small businesses in the US is reported to be just short of 6 million. Unlike in the past when big corporate brands ruled the global business realm, small businesses are currently steering the business forward across the world. So why are so many of them seeking to expand across the planet?

Today, it’s easy

The digital revolution has transformed the way business is done. With more people today having access to the internet, the expression “the world is your oyster” rings even truer today because anyone in any location can be a prospect or potential consumer of your business with the click of a mouse.

Unlike in the past when going global was an arduous task, businesses do not even require to be physically present in a different country to engage in business. Your business can easily become an international entity from anywhere across the world.

The gig economy

The gig economy is a free market system characterized by temporary positions where various organizations collaborate with freelance or independent employees on short term contracts. Today, many companies are hiring individuals they have never, and will never, meet in person.

The remote economy can help you complete projects without having employees inside your office. This system is more affordable compared with hiring full-time employees to execute the same task, which would require office space, personnel taxes, and other overheads.

How can businesses expand to global markets?

Thinking about taking your business global can be intimidating. So you’ve done your research, market opportunity assessment, and competitive analysis. You’ve been learning about different customs, values, culture, and language. But, even armed with all of this, it may not be enough to help your brand achieve meaningful traction and generate sales.

Collaborating with a local partner can help you benefit significantly from their experience and knowledge of the local market, contacts, and regulations. Establishing a partner in your preferred destination is a great way of taking confident and meaningful first steps on your way to succeeding with global expansion.

There are various types of partnerships. For instance, you can choose to invest in a foreign country and take their time to understand how things are executed in the country. You could also collaborate with a local vendor and get the opportunity to provide their products to the vendor’s clients. You can benefit more by hiring the vendor as a local consultant, who will help them understand the local market more effectively.

While there may not be one definitive method of venturing into global markets, being adaptable and expressing the willingness to explore different possibilities can increase your chances of succeeding in a global venture.

Challenges faced when growing internationally

Below are some of the challenges you are likely to face on your global expansion journey:

Understanding the market

You may have done your research on the market opportunity in terms of potential revenue and sales—what are the expectations of your audience, what do they want or don’t want, how saturated or not is the market—but if you don’t speak their language (quite literally) then you will be in trouble.

Nothing demonstrates a brand’s desire to truly put its customers and—for B2B businesses—put its customers’ customer first, then providing a website and local content in the language of the market you are in. Do not overlook the importance of this.

Transcreation—modifying a message from one language to another albeit retaining its style, intent, context, and tone—is a key factor that entrepreneurs and brands alike. It’s used to achieve success on the global marketing front. Transcreation helps you to adjust your marketing content to a new global market, and cater to their needs (not yours).

Export fees and tariffs

If you export goods or products, instead of services, then you’ll need to know import/export laws and tariffs beyond just how much it costs to put something in the mail! Many countries charge a fee or tariff to companies seeking to import goods into their country. And this applies especially to ecommerce businesses.

Knowing these tariffs helps you factor them into your budget for the new market so you don’t make the same mistake as many companies and over-spend like crazy! Understand the different tariffs that are applied depending on the logistics and shipping regulations in the country you are importing to, and also the local laws and regulations—what are your customers’ right and, indeed, any logistics or on-the-ground partners’ rights, let alone yours, for serving a new audience in a different country.

Some companies may not be able to afford these tariffs, especially start-ups, and do not want to pass these costs on to their customers. An alternative option that can be more economical and efficient for all parties is to offer a personal shopping concierge service, which is becoming increasingly popular for today’s busy professionals who want multiple items from multiple companies.

What it takes to succeed globally

Success for some is simply breaking even or keeping the lights on. Either way, it is not a quick or easy journey, so let’s have a look at a business that has managed to penetrate foreign markets successfully.

While favorable circumstances and fortune (and great business acumen!) can influence a company’s global success having and sticking to a concrete plan plays a major role in promoting global growth.

Today, the digital revolution and easy access to the internet has enabled many entrepreneurs, and also established national brands, to grow their businesses beyond their own borders. Having a concrete strategy before taking your business on the global stage plays a major role in helping you succeed. It’s the usual story and age-old expression: “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”

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