How to expand your small business internationally

As a small business, it may seem like a huge step to even think about opening yourself up to the global markets and expand. However, if you’re looking to succeed and grow, then you will need to get prepared for the challenging road ahead. The UK will appear to be small compared to the larger more unfamiliar global market, and you will be leaving behind those home comforts and the familiarity, which means you need to tread carefully. To grow internationally will be daunting and also a rewarding experience and you will have to see if the positives outweigh the negatives.

There are many benefits that will come from looking at taking the international path, but you can achieve great success at home too in the UK, as it is a great place for expanding with the number of small businesses at an all-time high. Although, one of the positive aspects of being within a global market is it can protect you from the uncertainty of the British economy especially with the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

Market research

One of the first things that you will need to focus on is proactively vetting the market for potential locations. If you have a thriving business and you believe that your product is popular then you will find that you have a great path ahead on the global scale. Doing your market research will be vital and you will need to do plenty of research to ensure that your leap into the unknown isn’t too risky and to ensure that your product is definitely in demand. When it comes to taking such an almighty step you can’t have room for doubt and you need to be confident in your decision.

Once you have carried out your market research and looked into your potential competitors, you will need to see how your products will be received once it hits the market. One of the positive aspects of going international is if your product or service is unique the public will associate the product with your brand. Although, if there is a similar product that is already on the market you will need to stand out from the crowd. You can’t get too conformable, because you need to constantly be breaking the boundaries and creating something new so that consumers will be moved to choose your product or service over one provided by local businesses.

The research process

When you are considering countries to look at targeting you need to look for similar markets to yours. If your business is based in the UK, then the American market may seem the most closely aligned economy, plus there is the added advantage that there is the shared language. This will help bring a sense of home and a feeling that you are comfortable with, however, be aware that you will still need to invest time in getting to know the economy in the USA and look at what states are best to target.

You will need to create a shortlist of countries that need your product, and then go through and cross off those that don’t or where there is a product or service that is too similar. This process will help you decide where you want to expand to. Often when businesses want to expand, they will reach out to their existing contacts who are based in various locations and have already gone through the process of reaching out to the global market. You will need to build contacts and networks to succeed and by speaking to those that you already know of could stop you from making some of the mistakes that they made.

Local Partnerships

If you don’t already have contacts in your chosen destination, then you will need to reach out and make some. In today’s technological age where the vast majority of people are connected via social media, it shouldn’t be difficult to make new contacts from platforms like LinkedIn, where you can also ask your original contacts for help when you are at a stage of looking for partners. You will need distributors, staff and even a partner in your chosen destination, and they need to be people you trust to ensure that your brand is a success in your chosen international locations.

Additionally, you will need help from people based in the UK too, especially at the beginning of your journey, so don’t be afraid to reach out to people for help and advice. You ideally need to be speaking to people who have experience in international markets and getting a business mentor may be a decision that proves to be worth the cost.

Tax and the law

To avoid getting into any trouble on your new venture you will need to familiarise yourself with the taxes, laws and regulation. For this, you may need to seek the assistance of a lawyer to guide you through the various laws that will differ from here in the UK. You will be looking for a lawyer who has previous experience in business expansion and has knowledge of the UK and your chosen international locations. Don’t be rushed, and take your time to make sure you know what kind of tax laws and regulations you are getting into.

The Culture

This a very important part of expanding into international markets and you really need to make the time and effort to understand the people, their culture and faiths. You will need to get to know your potential customers, how they live and what they believe in. Taking the time to understand different cultures and faiths will help you avoid making any huge mistakes and offending potential customers.

Another reason why you need to get to know people in the country that you choose to expand into is that it will give you an idea of how to market your product in your chosen new location. You can then change your strategies to meet local needs.

Due diligence

Before you go forward with your international move you need to carry out due diligence in order to make sure that you are making the right decision. Research into potential customers, the tax system, the laws, culture, religion and also your competitors all need to be looked at in depth. Take time in doing your research, expanding globally can be risky so you need to make decisions and be a hundred per cent sure and confident in your decision.