There’s an old adage which suggests that you should never run before you can walk, and this is definitely something that small business owners should adhere to in the modern age.
More specifically, SMEs should strive to establish their brand on a local and national level before looking to expand overseas, as this ensures that they have a viable foundation from which they can achieve sustainable growth.
If you are considering expanding your business overseas, however, you’ll need to think long and hard before making an informed decision. Here are some of the key points to bear in mind:
- Is Your Product or Service in Demand Overseas?
This is arguably the most important consideration, as the international marketplace is extremely diverse and dictated by a number of economic, behavioural and geopolitical trends.
While your product or service may well be in demand in the UK, for example, there’s no guarantee that this can be sustained overseas. Even with experts forecasting a more robust rate of growth for the global economy and consumer spending throughout 2018, it’s important to remember that customer demand is vulnerable to a number of variables including cultural trends and potential language issues.
So, before you expand your venture into the international marketplace, you’ll need to target specific regions before determining whether not these can sustain a viable demand for your range of products or services.
- Can Your Business Cope with International Expansion?
If there is a demand for your offering overseas, the next step is to determine whether or not your business model can cope with international expansion.
After all, expanding overseas will require a significant, upfront investment, and one that must ultimately be measured against any potential increases in turnover and profitability. Your business must also be able to adapt to an increased demand and workload, in order to meet deadlines and the requirements of a global consumer base.
If you’re unsure about your businesses capability, you should consider testing this in a controlled environment. You can secure temporary premises on rolling contracts to trial the extension of your venture locally, for example, before hiring freelancers to increase your workforce in a flexible and manageable way. This replicates a small-scale global expansion and gives you an indication of basic cost increases, so it should help you to determine how your firm would cope in the future.
- How will you Deliver Expansion?
If you’re still determined to proceed at this stage, the final step is to determine the best and most cost-effective way of expanding your business overseas.
This includes the identification of specific, international markets and locations, while you’ll also need to cultivate a marketing plan that negates cultural, linguistic and behavioural differences which may be detrimental to your business.
This process will help you to create a viable growth plan for the future, and one that will afford your business its best possible chance of succeeding overseas.