The top 5 Challenges for Companies Expanding in Emerging Markets

By Melissa Frakman, Senior Director India and South Asia Practice, Albright Stonebridge Group

1. Cultivating the right partnersIt's never just about aligning with the biggest name. In a new market, no matter how aggressive your growth targets, it's worth taking the time to identify--and get to know--potential partners until you find those which share your vision, core business values, and metrics of success.

2. Mitigating contextual risk: Too often, expanding global businesses focus exclusively on product-market fit and execution. Companies unequivocally need to evaluate, understand, and manage risks specific to other factors of the new potential market. On the ground intelligence and trusted insights on local government priorities, regional political issues, macroeconomic challenges, civil society/NGO engagement, and the media landscape can help a business avoid costly mistakes when expanding into a new market.

3. Localizing product without losing focus: For both enterprise and consumer businesses, it's imperative to tailor the offering to local tastes and needs. It’s equally important to not chase every new "shiny object" in a market, which weighs on both resources and bandwidth. Companies often find it challenging to strike a balance between these two forces when entering a new market, especially when there is an exciting open field.

4. Recruiting and retaining the best team: Finding the right talent is hard, but it's even harder in an emerging market where you're building a team from scratch within an unfamiliar business culture. Striking the balance between leading from HQ or empowering local teams is, for example, part of this critical task.

5. Avoiding short-termism: International growth is challenging in highly complex developing economies particularly because of a lack of predictability and transparency. Investors and companies face constant challenges in sticking to their vision in a new market in the face of unexpected--sometimes costly--obstacles. Frequently, it's worth weathering through the frustrating bumps for the long-term potential and scale of a new dynamic market.

Melissa Frakman will be speaking at the Global Expansion Summit in 2017.