A Complete Guide to International Business Expansion

Are you thinking to expand your business internationally?

Although going global might be hard, with a good strategy, you can transform your business into a huge international success.

In this article, we will outline eight important steps that will guide you through this process. Starting from market research and partnering with others to preparing robust business plans and raising the right amount of financing, we offer all the tips necessary for one to excel internationally.

If you’re ready to make your company a global player, keep reading for our best tips on how to expand business internationally.

Is international expansion right for your business?

So, you’re considering expanding your business into international markets, such as the USA? It is a crucial choice that requires careful thought.

Here are some reasons business owners often want to expand their business internationally.

Growing overseas can increase revenue and expand the size of your business. Again, it opens you up to new ideas for doing business from other cultures.

The first reason why companies go global is diversification. Not all countries are at the same level in terms of economic development; hence, there may be little competition in foreign markets.

One way to improve finances through venturing abroad might be finding new sources of revenue and profits. However, it’s not easy. To succeed, you will require a good plan and strong resources, especially in large markets such as Brazil, Russia, China (BRIC), or Europe.

Smaller businesses might find better opportunities, starting with smaller markets first. Places like Vietnam, Ukraine, and Costa Rica are potential areas for growth.

But before you start, examine yourself by asking yourself some questions:

At which markets do you want to aim?

  • What is the number of countries that can be handled at a go?
  • What resources are required and are you in a position to afford them?
  • What is the return on investment?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it’s much better to consult with industry experts. Ask them about the pros and cons of expanding your business internationally, so that you can take precautionary steps and be prepared.

Some companies venture into international markets without adequate planning, while others research well. The best approach is usually a combination of both.

Once you make up your mind to go global, you must commit fully. Challenges will arise, such as dealing with different buyers and understanding foreign transactions. You will have to be patient, dedicated, and ready to learn.

Before jumping off, make sure you and your company are ready. Are your goals realistic? Can your current operations handle the expansion? How will you fund it? And are you prepared for the ups and downs of international business?

In case all your answers seem right, then get prepared for the exhilarating journey ahead!

Research the market:

Market research is super important when you’re thinking about expanding your business internationally. It helps you plan ahead and avoid problems.

The Starbucks situation in Australia shows what can happen when you don’t do enough market research: even though Starbucks is big worldwide, it lost a lot of money because it opened too many stores and didn’t make coffee that Aussies liked.

As a result, they had to close 61 out of 85 stores.

Here are some things to look into:

  • Who is your customer: Determine who you are selling to. Make an ideal customer profile to know what they want in every place you intend to sell.
  • What’s the demand like: Do people truly need your product? How many people specifically require it? The more information you have, the better for you.
  • What’s hot: Know how people view your product or service. What are they seeking, or how do they normally decide on buying? Is the market always changing or pretty stable?
  • How can I get involved: Consider which entry points would be best and what factors might impact your strategy if you were venturing into new markets. For instance, think about issues such as how to deliver your products, what goals you have set for yourself, things that need to be done, and how long this could take.

Learn from your competition:

You can learn a lot from your competitors if other firms are already selling in the market you want to enter. 

Here is what you need to know:

  • Who else is trading in this market?
  • Are they local companies or from other countries?
  • What do they handle perfectly?
  • What do they handle badly?
  • How does your business outperform theirs?
  • Can you make money even with these competitors around?

It’s wise for you to pick good and bad ideas from your competitors. By learning from them, it will be possible to save some money. Competitors are always an eye-opener in any market that one might want to get involved in.

Tailor content for local audiences:

When you’re trying to attract customers from other countries, your marketing needs to speak to them. Top-of-funnel (TOFU) content is where you start to get their attention. This is when they’re learning about your brand, products/services, and industry.

In order to target such customers, you may have to change your advertising as per their tastes. You might need a different brand message, content, and ads that will appeal to them.

Digital marketing and building a global brand:

The world is getting more and more connected thanks to technology. The businesses are already thinking in terms of what they can sell to consumers in the different countries.

However, even if a company has a really good website and the tech to deliver their stuff, they may not think about such things as digital marketing, which is now really important.

Here are some things to think about:

  • The size of the global B2B online market increased by 18.7%.
  • Around 70% of people who buy things through the internet purchase from websites based in other countries.
  • The amount of stuff people buy online compared to physical stores went up from 16% to 19% due to COVID 19.
  • Companies spent an additional 49% on digital ads.

It is no longer a secret that in the past couple of years, the number of those who do things online, let it be shopping, has pretty much grown. So, what does this mean if you want to sell your stuff in other countries?

Expanding a firm to other countries is not an easy task. In my 10 years of working in digital marketing, I’ve seen lots of companies do well in their own country but fail when they try to sell things in other places.

I’ve worked with over 100 clients on expanding internationally, and I’ve seen the mistakes companies make and come up with a guide on how to do it right.

When you want to sell your stuff in other countries, what do you consider?

  • Budget- Determine the amount of money within reach for marketing purposes annually. Generally, most businesses are advised to spend between 10% and 15% of their profits on advertising. For startups, based on how much cash they have at hand, they should budget something close to 30%.
  • Which countries – Choose a few countries instead of spreading your budget thinly. In such cases, hiring a global digital agency will assist in selecting the best countries among which a good plan can be put into place
  • Tracking & Content –  Use tools such as Google Analytics to monitor the way that people from each country use your website. Make sure your website is in the language spoken by people there. Also, figure out how people in each country search for things on Google.
  • Know your customers – Understand who you are going to sell to in each country; this will help shape the best advertisement path.
  • Marketing channels – When you know who your customers are, select appropriate advertising platforms, such as search engine ads or social media. It would be good if you could hire those who can understand the local language and culture so that people can relate to what you advertise.

It’s a no-brainer that digital marketing is the best medium to expand your business internationally. Digital marketing will either require hiring highly qualified marketers or outsourcing your marketing.

If you want to outsource your marketing, we have a team of professionals for every area of marketing, and we have a deep understanding of building brands with content marketing. You can contact us to build your international brand.

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Get the right partners and team:

If you’re thinking about growing your business globally, you’ll need a strong team partner. It could be a mentor, even though you most certainly need someone dependable.

You must have an office on the ground where people understand the market and language and are capable of following local rules.

“Having a local country manager can help make sure the company follows the rules in each new market and handles its costs well,” said Caicedo, co-founder and CEO of OmniBnk.

“Working with a local partner can also help explain what makes your company special to the local market.”

The people you hire to work with your overseas partners should know the local area well and also make sure your interests are protected.

“The foreign companies you work with might know more about doing business in the U.S. than you know about their country,” Bardosh said.

Without a good team on your side with the right cultural, language, and local business contacts, you might not be as competitive.

Plan your export strategy:

There’s so much that you need to take into consideration when you are thinking of selling your products internationally. To begin with, you will need to know the time differences and how long it takes for goods to be shipped between different countries.

Similarly, it is vital to understand how people from different areas prefer paying, their expected times of delivery, and what languages they communicate in.

However, this is not all there is. As your business expands and moves into new markets, many prospective customers will anticipate that you will continue providing quality products.

So you must know how to continue making top-notch products.

For instance, if you’re a company in the U.S. selling things internationally, you’ll need to spend time learning about:

  • Fees you have to pay to send your stuff to other countries.
  •  What do people in other countries like?
  • Things you need to do to get your products to customers.
  • Rules about selling certain things (e.g., some products might not be allowed in certain countries).
  • Places to store your products before they get sent to customers.

E-commerce and growing online:

E-commerce and online expansion include using digital platforms to reach new customers.

Businesses optimize their websites for global audiences, address currency and language considerations, and create well-planned logistics and shipping solutions.

It is best for both big businesses and smaller ones with digital products, retail, and consumer goods.

Arrange Licensing Agreements:

Now, for the final step: sorting out licensing agreements.

If you are selling your products internationally, there will be some business rules that you may not be aware of, unlike a local seller.

To ensure that you are set to run your business smoothly, make sure to tap into this knowledge and reputation by partnering with them through licensing agreements. These documents allow other individuals to sell products using your brand name.

Such agreements include exclusive ones (where only one person can sell those goods), non-exclusive ones (where many persons can sell them), and others applied in particular places alone.

However, things may become much more complicated. You might set up franchising agreements or private labeling agreements, where you decide exactly how your partnership will work.

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