Starting your business is not the most tasking part of growing it, expansion is. Your business has been thriving so well and now you want to take over new terrain, pitch your tent there and break even with a ton of profit.
Small businesses generally face challenges ranging from mild to severe when they seek to branch out and expand. Of course, these things happen in business all the time especially when it is not a major corporation running on large funding and even at that, you need to have a strategy on how to expand and take over effectively.
While you may have put together some good ideas you believe can help you penetrate an international market successfully, you need to understand that no matter the size of a company (large or small), the choice to enter a new market and as Diego Caicedo said “scale across borders”, comes with its own expenses and complications that could take time and resources which must be channeled from the beginning rightly, to get the best result.
These tips can guide you in a plan to expand your small business:
1. Identify your customer base
Before you decide to give new locals the opportunity to experience all that your business offers, you need to be sure a customer base for your business exists. This is not your home country, these are new people, and their preferences even in how they expect service/product delivery to be is different.
They are now your target market; they need to value what you are offering, for your business to excel. A business without a customer base is like cooking delicious food no one eats and it ends up in the waste bin every time. Make sure you have the best product or service to offer them and can compete favorably with what they are used to/existing brands. But you need to be sure that upon commencement, you have a customer base to kick off sales with.
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2. Evaluate your finances first, then expand your business
The financial aspect of business expansion should not be taken with levity. You need to ask yourself sincerely if you are ready for this move. Because no one wants to start up somewhere new and find out they underestimated the budget, or they have to declare bankruptcy soon, push launching dates backward, fall behind on financial settlements or take the growth of the business slowly rather than at a reasonable pace a strong financial backing would have offered. You need to check all the accounts, savings, and investments, for stability so it can enable you to expand your business with ease.
3. Make findings on your competitors in the business
The first step to winning a battle is preparedness. You are pitched against the companies and brands your new customers are accustomed to. You are probably facing language barriers, you might not have a full grasp on their business ideologies and all that, so you need to arm yourself with knowledge on the competing brands in order to utilize it in entering the marketplace with ease.
4. SWOT analysis
Strength Weakness Opportunities Threats ─ SWOT analysis will determine how you go about setting up your business globally.
5. Unique selling point
Every brand has a unique selling point. The difference between brands might be the uniqueness in the way they offer value. Identify yours and capitalize on it to draw the attention of your customers. Research and interaction with the locals will give you an idea of what your USP should be. With that, you can come up with an innovation that will skyrocket sales and profit.
6. Localize your organizational base to a standard
Before you decide to branch out, you need to have a strong base. In order to stay afloat, you have to introduce your business to new places but your foundation back home needs to be steady enough to offer your business all the support it requires. Build your website in a way that supports multiple languages. Use the help of your local website translation and localization services and make your content to a competitive standard before you consider expansion.
7. Be friends with local businesses
Relationships are an integral part of human growth that must never be overlooked. In business, people go for functions, play certain sports, and more just to build a good rapport with other businesses, clients, and brands. Friendship with local businesses is highly advantageous to your own business owing to the fact that you just started in a new place and you need all the support and connection you can get. It does not always have to translate to mergers, partnerships, and more, but favors that will boost your business can easily be gotten from relationships with local businesses.
8. Keep up-to-date company documents
Starting a business comes with a ton of paperwork. There is always something that needs to be documented, in some cases translated and more. Ensure you keep all tax payments, payrolls, charges, receipts, and others, documented. Not just documented but accurate and present so your compliance with the law gives your business a good repute.
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9. Expand your business by hiring locals
This tip has many advantages. First off, you are making them a part of your business so indirectly they have a stake. They can go ahead to tell all and sundry about your business to drive sales. Secondly, they understand their own people/your audience more than you do. They have a good understanding of operations, strategies, and what thrives in your new territory. Hence it is best to incorporate them into the business fold.
10. Create efficient, easier, and faster customer care systems
A waiting, angry or dissatisfied customer’s review can affect your young global business. You need to set in place systems to make their payments faster like improved payment methods, customer care operatives to attend to them at the right time and make them feel valued, delivery options that take the burden off them, an easy to navigate website, and more. The customers come first. You must prioritize their satisfaction if you want your entry into their marketplace to be successful.
11. Research is a never-ending process
Your business plan already exists, analysis on crucial areas was made before that. However, to keep abreast of all the changes that occur every now and then in business, you need to be at the top of your game in research. You might have expanded already. But you do not wish for your business to remain at the same level. So, you have to keep researching ways to utilize new media, social media, marketing strategies and more, to take your business to the apex of excellence.
12. Take advertising seriously
A common mistake of small businesses is to neglect how much adverts can do for them in business. Announce your coming, create high anticipation, maximize every advertising platform and medium, and create as much awareness as you can since small businesses earn 3 dollars for every 1.60 they spend advertising on Google AdWords; you might want to do more in business advertising while you expand.
13. Weigh the pros and cons of the expansion
You might be satisfied with how all your research is going. You might have convinced yourself that everything is in order. But nothing ever prepares a small business for challenges than knowing those challenges ahead of time. Weighing each pro and con gives you an idea of how to pattern your management to get effective results, how to make the pros outweigh the cons, and it will prompt you to find solutions ahead of time to the issues that may pose obstacles later on.
14. Be ready for any legality
Not every country welcomes foreign businesses with particularly open arms. The world is fighting xenophobia and racism at all levels and in every system/sector. This is not a cause for alarm. Because many countries appreciate foreign investors no matter the scale of their investment. But you need to be legally ready to tackle such crises should they arise. All your documents must be duly signed, paperwork, financial proceedings, agreements, and legal formalities concluded appropriately and documented accurately.
You do not want to spend your early days as a foreign business moving from one courtroom to the other, paying for damage control, or discussing settlements. Your legal practitioner(s) must have a proper understanding so as to seamlessly navigate the laws and regulations existing both locally and internationally.
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Taking your small business beyond your comfort zone is an audacious choice with many rewards if you are willing to stick with it till the very end. Being knowledgeable on how to make your expansion and penetration into a new marketplace work, is of the essence of your business will thrive not merely survive. A 2016 study already tells us that nearly 58% of small businesses have customers from different parts of the world. Your goal should be how to get to more customers beyond your location and these tips should guide you accurately.