We all know that any undertaking—whether it is a personal hobby or a business idea—needs to be developed logically. Nobody likes to stop when they can see new horizons up ahead. If we are talking about a hobby, then there may not be any specific rules or tactics: Success depends on individual talent and potential.
But developing a business is another matter. Once a company has achieved success in its home market, the next logical step is often to move overseas. And here it is very important not only to assess your strengths in a sober way, but also to make the right choice of which region to begin your international expansion, as well as to take a conscious approach to adapt the business for new markets.
Start gathering information and talk to professionals with experience in the market.
My experience of entering the international market serves as an example. As the first step on my company’s road to expansion, we chose a number of international offline events and used them to talk to colleagues in related fields who had similar experiences in particular regions. Let me tell you right away, this was the most rewarding part of our study. In an informal setting, people told us about all the pitfalls lurking behind the glossy success stories we found on the internet. This helped us determine specific criteria that was important to review for each region.
Moreover, an important factor is to identify if the market is open to your product and establish a clear evaluation of its potential. It can be helpful to conduct customer development interviews, determine the ideal client profile and determine your unique selling proposition (USP).
Research tax requirements and business activity in the region.
The next stage is to study indicators of the development of your industry by country and assess the potential for your business. Also, spend time researching the competitive environment in the regions of interest to you. At this stage, the most important thing to do is to analyze the market carefully.
Study the tax and other conditions of business activity, in order to select a location for the company’s headquarters. As a result of a detailed analysis of the information we obtained, we identified several potentially interesting countries. We looked for high population density and rapidly increasing interest in our industry.
Tailor your communication and marketing materials to fit with local markets.
In addition to assessing the potential of a new market, do not forget about the importance of preparing and localizing all your marketing materials, as well as developing a strategy for positioning your brand and products with specific values (your value proposition). This is an obvious point, of course; but it is extremely important in each region!
Interestingly, we found the best format for presenting information about products was not a tired and familiar PowerPoint presentation, but a video format and a real demonstration. The local market we were interested in was more focused on performance and practical results than on empty slogans. This practical approach prompted us to correct the way we described our solutions by reorganizing the presentation of the material in a media format with an emphasis on short animated videos.
Do not forget about potential differences in mentality when dealing with customers and partners in new regions, either. This can create differences in doing business in general, and in planning and implementing individual stages of projects in particular. For example, in our case, face-to-face contact with a customer or partner was critical for a project to move forward.
Expanding my business helped me improve my business skills as a leader, gave me a clear understanding that your approach and interaction patterns depend on the specific market, and allowed me to go beyond the usual set patterns.
For other business leaders and entrepreneurs interested in expansion, I would advise you to conduct deep marketing research, study competitors (if any exist) and count the numbers twice.