With the world becoming more connected, it is much easier to do business globally. However, there are still several businesses that believe in a localized strategy.
You’d imagine that with the internet, companies would start thinking of going global from the beginning rather than consolidate their presence locally.
Whether you should start thinking global from the beginning or start locally depends a little on the kind of business you’re in.
Let’s look at the advantages of each of these strategies.
Advantages of a local strategy
Custom products and services
A friend of mine who started a magazine business in India many years ago asked me whether he should start with one city or start nationally. I suggested that he start with one city, dominate that niche market, and then expand nationally or internationally.
I felt starting locally made more sense because you’re closer to your market, competition is lesser, and you can customize your products to the unique needs of the local market.
Face to face interaction with your customer
Being local adds a human element to your business. Customers can call or visit the local business, which builds intimacy and engagement. For some reason, if you know that your hosting company is located in the same city, there’s an element of belonging.
Being local is an opportunity to get involved with the community by supporting local sporting events, plays, and other cultural events that build trust and goodwill for the business.
Now, let’s look at the advantages of going global
Access to higher paying markets
A company based in emerging markets like India can sell its services in the UK or the US, and earn significantly higher revenue because of the cost structure.
Design firms, web development firms, and digital marketing companies based in India earn far more revenue from overseas markets than from their local markets.
Robert Carter, CEO of Your Company Formations says, “A lot foreign companies incorporate subsidiaries in the UK and use it as a base for their UK operations. It’s much easier and cheaper to incorporate in the UK. It also provides opportunities for international firms to acquire local companies to expand their clientele and get access to local talent.”
Spreading your risk
You can spread your risk by having clients across several markets. A recession in your local economy may not put you out of business.
Opportunity to position yourself as exotic
Vitali Prymak, CEO of Central Park Tours that provides guided tours of the magnificent Central Park in New York City says, “Although we are a local business, we get people visit us from all over the world. So it’s important for us to promote ourselves globally. Several movies have been shot here, and foreign tourists have seen our locales on the big screen but never experienced it in real life. This just makes us look exotic to tourists outside New York and the US. Yes, we look at ourselves as a business with a global clientele.”
Products that are made in the US, UK and Italy probably have a better appeal in emerging markets than their home country.
Italian clothing is perceived as fashionable all over the world. Japanese products are apparently technologically advanced. And German engineering is considered to be very efficient.
Although both strategies have their advantages, it’s important to make a start rather than get ahead of yourself right at the beginning. Businesses that offer products and services digitally have an inherent advantage of servicing international customers with just a laptop and an internet connection. However, more traditional businesses might need significant investment in time, money and expertise to expand overseas.