Depending on your business, you may find that significant growth can only be achieved by going international. Even businesses with large domestic markets will find new opportunities by either trading across borders or establishing branch offices in different countries. The UK is a large market, but doing business across Europe and further afield is easy and will open your product or service to a far larger source of potential sales.
Benefits of doing business overseas
The benefits of doing business overseas are numerous and are not at all restricted to simply generating more sales. For example, if your customer base is diversified across different countries, you will be able to weather local economic difficulties more easily. Products and services that have become stale in the local market may be new and interesting for foreigners, and they could get a new lease of life when exported. You will learn how to compete against foreign businesses, and you may find that your business enjoys a creative boost due to the wide range of inputs that foreign employees and partners can provide.
Choosing the best places for expansion and growth
The main reason why most businesses expand abroad remains the profit motive – there are simply more potential buyers around the world than in the UK alone. It is important to pick specific countries to start your expansion in – start with a list of potential candidate countries, and based on a set of criteria, reduce this to one or two countries. Successfully expanding will require a lot of concentrated, hard work, and attempting to enter too many markets simultaneously will not lead to good results.
Factors to keep in mind include corporate and consumer culture and the extent to which language may be a stumbling block. Depending on your product or service, you may also need to pay close attention to foreign legal issues and regulations. Do research on previous companies who have attempted to enter a specific country’s market – you could find a wealth of pitfalls that are easy to avoid.
The world is your stage
Depending on your expansion plans, you may find that simply setting up in one remote location will make it far easier to enter neighbouring markets. For example, Mark Clannachan of Bluecrest was appointed head of the European off-shoot of the main business based in London, this automatically made the rest of Europe an easier market to access. Or, staging your expansion in Thailand would make South East Asian markets a more accessible source of future revenue.
We are living in an increasingly interconnected world and your business can benefit enormously from this. Though a physical presence in a foreign market has solid benefits, you may find that working through distributors and agencies can also achieve a significant portion of the growth that you are looking for. Find a foreign business partner via networking events or trade shows, or look online to see whether there are foreign agencies actively looking to work with expanding businesses.