Many business owners get excited when they open up a new office or get to travel to a new country to conduct business.
In fact, that’s one of my favorite aspects of business. I get to travel almost exclusively for talks all over the world and to help publically traded companies with marketing.
But for most entrepreneurs, the biggest hurdle they run into is managing two different time zones, two cultures, and two completely different work styles! It can be extremely challenging, and this is why international expansion is one of biggest reasons why businesses close shop.
If you are expanding internationally, you have to take into account many factors that influence whether your business is successful, or whether it fails. Here are 8 Hacks For International Expansion.
1. Focus on ONE market at a time
Have you ever tried juggling?
The reason juggling is one of the hardest things is because you are focusing on multiple balls at the same time. Wouldn’t your error rate be much lower if you had to only throw one ball in the air?
I like to relate this to opening up offices. Focusing on one market makes it much easier to reduce error because you are focusing on one thing at a time.
2. Use a Local Phone Number
I’m a huge fan of products that allow you to have multiple phone numbers, such as Flyp. This gives me the ability to have a local number in an area I may not be physically located in and allows me to even call internationally to countries like Canada, Finland, France and the UK without data or wifi!
For international numbers, there are multiple alternatives such as Global Call Forwarding that give your customers one number they can contact and your entire sales team can react to.
3. Have an interpreter and local team from the start
Having a great staff is one of the most important resources for a successful business. Think about it this way; your business wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the people around you.
Investing in a great interpreter and local team is important because it helps you get on the ground running. I have had a lot of success with hiring HR firms that are based in the location I am opening an office in because they understand what kind of talent to source and from where.
4. Translate your website for the international customer
One of the biggest affects to the bounce rate of your website, especially if you are expanding internationally is the language your website is in.
For example, if you are expanding to Brazil and the language isn’t translated, your customers won’t be able to read the website! It’s easy and inexpensive to even get a translator to translate the copy so that you can maintain the same image for different pages.
5. Explore Google Trends
Google Trends are a must for businesses that aren’t familiar with the region they are moving into. I use Google Trends to keep up on news happening in the region I am expanding to, especially so I can write articles that my target audience are used to consuming.
6. Build partnerships with localized experts
Some of the most successful partnerships have started with category leaders forming strong relationships and then going into business together. For example, when Starbucks entered India, they formed a partnership with Tata because Tata understood the landscape for India.
Had Starbucks not done this they would have ran into trouble during their expansion in India.
7. Focus on on page keywords
The moment you jump markets is the moment you have different opportunities for markets. This is important because the keywords you are targeting also tend to change.
To capitalize on this, use the Keyword Planner by Google to understand what types of keywords you should optimize for in your region.
8. Learn the culture
Culture is everything when it comes to business. Why? Because culture involves people, which are the lifeblood and main reason people do business with you.
It may be as simple as making sure you use proper business etiquette when exchanging business cards, or using the right greetings when you speak on the phone, but every little thing makes a huge difference.