Five Tips On How To Increase Your Business Overseas
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When you first establish your own business, you probably ran at full speed with all the excitement and nerves that come with taking the leap of faith, such as researching, networking, setting up the office space, and organizing daily operations. Blood, sweat, and tears were most likely shed in a bid to get things up and running, alongside making many a sacrifice as you invested significant time and money into making your business profitable and achieving your dream.
For those who survived the challenging start up process and have been successful in getting their business up and running, the most daunting question racing through your mind is probably 'where to next?’ Determining exactly how you can stimulate your business to grow significantly beyond its current status can be difficult. The first years of operation however, are not the time to get comfortable. On the contrary, it’s vital to harness growth in the early years of a business’ launch. Expanding your scope of work to a bigger market overseas or even opening a second office is a great way to double up your opportunities.
The decision to do business overseas is a daunting one for anyone. Talk about a leap of faith– expanding your reach overseas is a gamble, regardless of how confident you may be. Whether you are chasing a dream client or are leaving your home country in the search for more is a major step that will turn life on its head. Here are my five best tips on how to increase your business overseas:
1. People, people, people Nothing you do before the big move will truly prepare you for what you’re about to face. From the clothes you pack to the books you’ve read on moving abroad, there will eventually be a surprise waiting for you that you haven’t thought of. If you expect the unexpected and surround yourself with people you trust, you’ll be more than capable to manage.
People are the most valuable resource of any business the world over. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to choose who you want working for you, and to determine whether or not they possess the required skills and fit into the existing business culture. Here, having a screening process is essential, especially when expanding into international markets. Clearly define a set of criteria of what you are looking for and stick to it.
Being able to delegate to your chosen team is also an essential quality for a business owner to master in order for the business to grow. You simply cannot grow the business on your own so you have to surround yourself with people that complement your skills, share the vision you have for the company, and who are able to execute certain activities on your behalf. This will allow you to have more time to focus on the bigger picture rather than individual business components.
2. The online presence should support the offline In today’s society, investing in online channels is essential to staying in touch around the globe. It’s the space where people conduct thorough research before making the call to you or visiting the store, regardless of what product or service you are selling. As a business owner you should be embracing suitable techniques, channels, and technologies that can provide your brand with solid exposure, or that have the potential to reach an undiscovered market. However, the key to success will come from your ability to balance the online with the offline, as customers still expect you to be physically present in some way or another.
3. Be unforgettable Spending time, money, and resources on building your brand is crucial. If you consider a large brand like Lamborghini, it’s a fact that it produces a quality product, but that product is supported by an image that effectively communicates the value the company offers to the public. This is why branding is so important and ensure consistency of your product in all markets. Not only this, when doing business overseas you also need to consider languages and cultural differences. Do you need to create a second version of your logo in the native language of the new country you are operating in? There have been cases where a brand's colours have specific connotations in the culture of the new region that are offensive, or the direct translation of the brand name is actually an inappropriate word. All things to consider when seeking to be unforgettable in all the right ways!
4. Have strong support teams Many people find asking for help difficult. However, when you are in a different country and don’t have the answers you will have no choice, and will get quite good at identifying your support system. Support teams are essential for keeping your business up to date with the industry and in line with industry standards. For operations that are beyond your own personal scope, perhaps finance or legal support, it’s best to let professionals in those particular areas handle them. Support teams are able to provide sound advice on any changes that need to be made, compliance issues, and your financial status – so make the most of them!
5. Stay on top of industry trends Firstly, it’s important to conduct some research into the politics, culture, religions, and ethnicities that may come across your path in your new country. Being ignorant of your surroundings is not a good start. If another language is prevalent in the new country, take the time to learn some key words or phrases, even if English is widely spoken. This shows that you’re polite, aware, and that you care about the people around you.
Further to this, no matter what industry your business falls in, uprising developments and constantly evolving consumer tastes mean that you always have to be aware of what is ‘hot’ in the field at any given time. Remember every region will be different. If you spend an hour a day researching your own field in each location, you will find it a lot easier to set yourself apart from your competitors and you might even stumble upon new business ideas and undiscovered markets.
In the same manner, staying on top of industry trends means you have to be flexible. Business environments change, customers change, and you yourself will change. So be flexible and aware of change to avoid any surprises.