In a global world, customers are no longer limited to the businesses within their country’s borders. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of this interconnectedness to expand their products and services to an entirely new audience beyond their home country.
However, business leaders shouldn’t jump into expanding or launching in a new geographic area without careful planning and consideration. Below, 15 members of Forbes Business Council shared the steps entrepreneurs must take before successfully taking on a global market.
Members of Forbes Business Council share steps on how entrepreneurs can begin preparing to operate on a global scale.
Photos courtesy of the individual members.
1. Understand The Market And The Buyer
Many entrepreneurs fail and learn when entering new markets. It’s imperative to consider the buyers and the market itself. For businesses targeting small businesses, especially with an online product, global expansion is the easiest. However, for B2B markets with a large customer base and complex sales process, a localized presence is needed which first-time entrepreneurs often miss. – Ankit Oberoi, AdPushup
2. Grow Your Business’s International Network
To maximize the likelihood of success for an international launch, entrepreneurs must consider growing their own network there beforehand. When it comes time to launch, they will have greater visibility, more support and honest feedback from locals. Attending local events in the new target market and liaising with international organizations prior to launch is a great way to accomplish this. – Sara Abbas, Ev0lver, Inc
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3. Experience The New Country
Having done exactly that, the first most important thing to do, though obvious, is going to that country, attending conferences and talking with every local you can find. The biggest failing of any company going to another is thinking that what works in the “home” country will work in the new country. And the best way to understand that is not through reports, but to experience it yourself. – Howard Rosen, LifeWIRE Corp
4. Be Culture-Ready
Rather than letting the people who work with you define your culture, now is the time to proactively define what your company culture is so that you can ensure a considered and consistent vision throughout the whole structure, wherever in the world that may be. This way your global culture will be inextricably linked to your commercial success. – Joanna Swash, Moneypenny
5. Hire Local Copywriters
Hire excellent copywriters that have an in-depth knowledge of the language in the target market. Meaning and intent can easily get lost in translation. If you’re not careful, you could unknowingly launch a marketing campaign that either doesn’t make sense or is outright offensive. Plenty of multinational corporations have made this mistake before. It can easily be avoided. – Hanna Marie Asmussen, Localyze
6. Adapt To Cultural Differences
Understand that the office culture in the main HQ may not be suitable in a different geographic location. If you’re looking to attract the best talent to work in-house there, the house needs to offer comfort and familiarity. The new office should observe respective national, religious and cultural holidays and observances as deemed appropriate, respect families and work-life balance and promote inclusivity. – Ido Wiesenberg , Voyantis
7. Do Your Cultural Due Diligence
Ensure you take into account the culture, language and values of the country you are expanding into. Too often, large companies expand globally without enough cultural diligence. For example, HSBC expanded into many countries in 2009 with their “Assume Nothing” marketing slogan only to realize too late it translated to “Do Nothing” in several places, costing millions of dollars and several years to recover from. – Suraj Gupta, Rogue Insight Capital Ltd.
8. Meet Local Privacy And Security Requirements
Entrepreneurs must be prepared to meet the privacy and security requirements imposed in other countries before venturing out. For example, educate yourself on GDPR regulations and guidelines before engaging clients in the UK. Make their privacy requirements your priority. – Jill Strickman, GENUINE: The Real People Company
9. Find A Partner Abroad
Find a partner who is willing to follow your direction and adhere to your brand standards. Create a guide for them to follow that allows them to replicate the different aspects of the business you have been successful with abroad—for example, creating social media channels and posting relevant content. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing
10. Review And Follow Regulations
When expanding your business into another country, it is essential to take the time to review government and industry-specific regulations and ensure your business has obtained any necessary certifications. Navigating global regulations can be complicated, but missing this crucial step could cause severe financial losses for your company. – Peggy Choi, Lynk
11. Use Authorized Partners
We use authorized partners. We have found in global markets that there are entrepreneurs and established businesses looking to provide proven business solutions. We have used sell in-models as well as splitting at the gross margin level depending on the level of business support from our side. This strategy was an easy way for us to learn how a market functions and customers’ needs. – Ed Beltran, Fierce Conversations
12. Consider The Timing
After three decades of globalizing financial companies and brands, the most valuable factor that tends to be repeatedly overlooked is timing! Entrepreneurs must resist the tempting urge to expand at top speed just to scale and signal to stakeholders. Is the market ready for you? Are you ready for it? Beware vanity over sanity and the lure of self-imposed urgency. Hasty expansion is a costly mistake. – Nuala Walsh, MindEquity
13. Validate The Market
In the age of globalization and as an entrepreneur myself, I used the internet to test the market by selling my product to potential customers online. Once we did $100,000 in sales, we formed a company and grew from there. Save money initially and never run out of money. Hire smart, not cheap. Travel; do regional sales over country-specific and network as much as you can. – Noman Siddiq, Cloudlead, Inc
14. Assure The Market Is Large Enough
Assure there is a large enough market with a pain point or need for your offering. Then, model how your product or service will differentiate your offerings over current solutions. Once you articulate these two fundamentals, customize your pricing, market strategy and execution. This roadmap is a feasibility guide. Conversely, if competition is nonexistent there, this may be very telling data. – Tej Brahmbhatt, Watchtower Capital
15. Look At The Competitive Landscape
As someone with roots abroad, this is something I know well. It’s critical to understand the market you’re going into from the competitive landscape to customs and ways of life. It’s the only way you’ll understand how to add genuine value to a product or service. – Muraly Srinarayanathas, Computek College