Going international is definitely an opportunity to improve your business and increase income. But it also implies a certain degree of risk.
So before you start dreaming big—we're all dreamers, and there's nothing wrong with that—you have to face reality. Expanding overseas and entering the international market requires a certain amount of time, effort, analysis, and patience.
So, what should you do? Start analyzing your current situation, the actual structure of your company, and make plans for the future.
Just to better explain what we mean, here are five questions you may want to ask yourself before going international.
Do I have to study the local market and competitors?
Market analyses are fundamental to know the state of the market you plan to expand into. An accurate study done by professionals is necessary before taking any concrete action, as it will reveal the ups and downs of the local market, whether there are already similar products to the one you sell, and whether it is worth expanding there for your company.
Do I need to adapt to local culture?
The sales process is not just about numbers and math; it implies a psychological process, as people tend to buy from people or companies they already know or believe in. In other words, to sell, you need to get closer to local people—that is, you need to understand them, their culture, and possibly, be aware of their language and its tricks. For instance, ask a professional marketing translator whether your company already has a proper name for the country you want to reach—many companies have failed in this by not considering that their brand name sounded strange in that foreign language. The results were quite embarrassing….
Can I economically afford the expansion overseas?
When you open a branch abroad, you are not going to make profits right away. You need to be there for a while before completely entering the market and give people the time to know you and think you are a reliable company they can buy from. So, once again, before opening new offices, make a long-term financial plan to visualize the economic cost, time, and effort you are required to put forth in order to make things work. You can always change or update the plan depending on what is actually happening.
Do I need a local partner?
That is up to you. A local partner can facilitate your entry into the local market and keep some costs down, but a partnership has to have solid roots and can require a long time to build and finally work. Needless to say, you must find the right partner.
Do I need a website or translations?
People feel more comfortable when they buy in their native language, and they usually buy more. A translated website can help the whole sales process, especially if you have an e-commerce shop. Furthermore, before contacting you, some customers might take a look at your website or social media account; they are like your business card, so do not underestimate them! This is also why they must be professionally translated. You wouldn’t play with fire, would you?
Written by Marcella Sartore, Marketin & Communication Assistant @ Athena Parthenos