How to take your small business global?
Your small local business is experiencing successful growth? Congratulations! You may be tempted to try your luck abroad and take your small business global. For a successful transition, don’t rush into things and go through the steps below.
Is the local market saturated? In this case, expanding your horizons abroad may be a good idea.
Pushing your business global can be the opportunity to get access to a larger base of customers and increase your revenues.
Another benefit of going global is you get access to a wider pool of talents. Hiring a workforce outside of your country may be the opportunity to find new skills, whether they are language skills or technical skills.
Finally, diversifying your markets is also useful to gain more exposure to investment opportunities and get more backing for your company.
Assessing how your business is doing by looking at the metrics will enable you to evaluate potential and gaps to understand what is necessary to grow your business internationally.
Here are a couple of examples of how you can assess the current state of your business:
- Assess your activities and how you can make them more competitive
- Assess the current financial situation of the company and consider what would be the impact of opening a branch abroad.
The first step towards expanding to new markets is getting an understanding of which country could be a good market for you.
- Identify several markets that would work for your business. Check your analytics to understand from which countries most of your traffic is originating.
- Examine the trends of this market over the last few years and how it’s grown over time.
- Examine the product trends, see what products work on the local market and if there might be a gap in the offering that could fit your niche.
- Research the competition for each potential market to understand who you would be up against
Once you have decided on a target market, you have to decide on your business structure. Your business structure will define how your company operates, outlining the hierarchy and defining roles, who reports to whom and what is the business need for each role.
Before choosing your structure, keep in mind the company strategy, business size and environment you want to create.
Here are some examples of organisational structures:
- Hierarchical structure: a centralised structure where the authority flows from the top down;
- Functional structure: similar to the hierarchical structure but includes a department leader for each department, all reporting to the CEO.
- Flat structure: a decentralised organisation where all employees are equal, usually found in start-ups with few employees.
When starting a business abroad, complying with the local laws and regulations can be a challenge.
It’s strongly advised to hire a consulting firm that can help you learn and understand the local rules and industry-specific regulations. Here are a few examples of peculiarities you must be informed about:
- Accounting rules
- Business taxes
- Employment and compensation rules
- Potential export barriers
- Equal opportunity laws
Whatever your product is, you probably won’t be able to launch it as is on a new market. You will have to adapt it to the local audience. This is called localisation.
Localisation includes, of course, the language, but also currencies, laws, and cultural references. Consider hiring a freelance translator or an agency to take care of the translation of your product.
Your content should be culturally-sensitive and engaging for your target audience. That can include changing the designs, pictures and other marketing assets used to make them more relatable to the audience.
To facilitate the localisation of apps and software, internationalisation (i18n) is essential and enables localisation, thanks to the use of a single code.
Some good practices to internationalise a product include:
- Using Unicode standard for encoding. Unicode supports different scripts, including Hindi and right-to-left languages.
- Avoid hard-coded text. This will allow you to localise your product more quickly in the future.
Nowadays, there are tons of billing and payment tools that facilitate working with stakeholders in different countries.
Share your invoices in the right currency and language, following the tax laws of your target country.
You can also benefit from a multi-currency bank account and credit card to make your life easier. It is a type of account that allows you send and receive funds in multiple currencies
One of the easiest ways of receiving money from abroad is through online payment gateways such as PayPal. The benefit for international businesses is that the fees are reduced as there is no obligation to pay exchange rate or conversion fees.
Launching a successful business abroad requires building a local network, developing personal relationships, interacting with staff, vendors, customers, etc.
Nothing will help you develop the right marketing strategy more than travelling to the country and learning about its culture, language and people.
Invest time in attending industry trade shows in your target market and start networking to identify potential partners and clients.
There are many aspects to consider before taking your business to foreign markets. Following the tips above will be a good starting point, but we recommend getting in touch with professional advisors who will be able to give you deeper insights on specific aspects of opening a business abroad.