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If you are in the business or professional services industry, and are looking to go global, the following are 10 key issues to consider before embarking on an international expansion program:
1. MAKE IT YOUR COMPANY STRATEGY
The decision to expand into a foreign market should be part of your overall business strategy, not just a sideline. Ensure your company has reached a level of success and credibility in your local market before attempting to expand.
2. IDENTIFY THE DESTINATION
Focus on one country, and if necessary, one region in that country, to reach a clearly targeted market. Additional destinations can be considered once success has been achieved in the first.
3. DO THE RESEARCH
Undertake a thorough market study and analysis to determine the potential demand for your services, and be conscious of the competition and your competitive advantages and disadvantages; do the due diligence.
4. VISIT THE MARKET
Face-to-face meetings are still the best way to finalize negotiations and really understand your clientele, as well as facilitating the relationships that will pay off in the long run.
5. WRITE A PLAN
If you require financing to launch this new venture you will need to prepare a Business Plan; even if no financing is needed, a Strategic Intent and Marketing Plan should be prepared, since this expansion should be treated as if it were a new division of the company.
6. FORM STRONG ALLIANCES
Entering a new market with the help of a local partner or agent may be more prudent, and could allow you to test the market before entering it fully. Joint ventures, strategic alliances and technology exchanges can be very successful, and are often overlooked as an option to expansion.
7. CONSULT THE EXPERTS
Don’t attempt to go it alone; local legal and financial experts should obviously be engaged, as should experts in PR, marketing and other specializations pertinent to your industry.
8. BE CULTURALLY SENSITIVE
Adapt your services to the local culture. Translate and localize all pertinent internal and external communications and information, even if English is understood by all parties.
9. CONSIDER THE LOGISTICS
Local regulations, currency fluctuations, tax implications, immigration issues for transferring staff – these are just some of the logistics that need to be assessed.
10. BE PATIENT
Keep in mind that this new venture requires a serious commitment, both from a time and financial perspective. Be flexible in your dealings in the new market and you will reap the rewards.