1. Do your homework.
Not all markets are equal. ‘Ease of Doing Business Rankings’ exist for a reason. Markets like UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, Hong Kong and Singapore are all in the top 20, whereas China is 78th on the list, Saudi Arabia is 90th and India is way down at 130th! There’s always a risk and reward trade off, so choose your first expansion carefully.
2. Leverage support.
Government agencies can open doors, offer incentives, provide free research and give you additional credibility. This applies both to your own local agencies helping to promote you overseas; and the investment promotion agencies in your chosen market overseas, both at the city and national levels - they’re easy to find, a good place to start would be to search “Invest in [name of location]”.
3. Invest in the right advice.
Get professional support from the outset to help you setup in new markets. Specialists can help you with legal, regulatory, financial, recruitment, visas and many other issues. Don’t be tempted to DIY stuff. Things can unravel very quickly if you shortcut or ignore the fundamentals.
4. Localisation is more than translation!
Cultural, social and linguistic differences can make the difference between success and failure. Don’t think that you can just change your URL and keep the same marketing collateral. Arm’s length expansions using virtual offices and a website won’t cut it. You’ll need local people on the ground if you’re going to really succeed.
5. Have a foreign exchange plan.
Currencies move, every day, and in every direction. Unpredictable political events, economic cycles and natural disasters are always around the corner. Make sure you plan accordingly and protect your margins. A few percentage points up or down can be the difference between profit and loss.
Adam Breeze is an international expansion specialist who has helped more than 100 businesses to expand internationally – he will be on hand at the Global Expansion Summit in London in June to advise businesses on their options and can outline what support is available.