Whether you are a local professional service firm looking to open another office or a national manufacturer considering a major global expansion, all companies will face growth pains, challenges… and opportunities. In order to evaluate these opportunities, companies need to be prepared and have a clear road map of how this growth can happen. If not, the once incredible opportunity could backfire and create unintended obstacles that many large organizations have already experienced.
Where do I go from here? This is a common question many small, mid and large size organizations ask when faced with growth initiatives, especially internationally. Here are five of the most critical steps needed to even begin to answer this question.
Do your research.
Get the information you need to make the most informed decision and mitigate your risk. This starts by taking a comprehensive look at your own strengths, competition and market you serve. Better understanding a specific demographic or country you are evaluating will pay huge dividends and avoid global pitfalls.
The difficult task is to then assess all the extraneous factors that will influence your work conditions, productivity, and alignment with your own goals. If you are entering another country, this evaluation will be expansive and could include everything from understanding; language barriers, travel concerns, product restrictions, market entry guidelines, sales distributorships, and resources that are or are not available on site.
Knowing your limitations, and resources ahead of time will allow your organization to make corrections, and keep on track. It will also allow you to capitalize on opportunities quicker to maximize your investments.
A thorough analysis of your opportunity then needs to be organized into a workable roadmap that defines your financial, market, and performance initiatives. This strategic plan lays all the groundwork for a successful launch. It also becomes the tool your leadership team needs to open new markets, verticals, products, and identifies if and when this venture will be profitable.
Know your numbers
Successful companies know their numbers. This means they have established their pricing, margins, and return on investment. For those interested in international growth, they have already proven they can produce financial results at home. Expanding into unknown territory, however, puts a kink into knowing this process, and presents a journey in itself.
Having a research, financial, and legal team at your side throughout the entire process allows for collaboration that is vital. Once you have identified all your financial variables, markets, and opportunities tied to your expansion, you will also need financial tools/specialists that will help you make the right decisions with peace of mind.
Distribution channels, language barriers, security concerns, cultural differences, laws and regulations, currency, taxes, travel restrictions, market entry plans, lack of leadership, limited on site resources, are just a sampling of obstacles your company could face when undertaking a new international growth initiative.
Regardless of your situation, never overlook your need for outside help. You will need a trusted partner who has the experience, resources, time, and level of commitment that can help you achieve your goals. More importantly, you need objectivity. Many companies have internal politics, hidden agendas, and biased opinions on the effectiveness of a decision like this. Don’t let this happen and approach companies that will provide you with the most holistic, professional, and unbiased representation.
Make it a priority
Growth into a new market or country needs to be a priority from the top down. Companies that are looking to the future and remain open minded to new ideas would be best positioned for success. This means leadership has or is willing to commit to the right resources, budgets, and key personnel in the market or the countries they will serve.
Building a brand inside, or outside, the United States takes patience, expertise, and exceptional timing. The research, analysis, and strategy that are invested at the start will then make the implementation of your international strategic plan even easier. Have specific goals outlined that are realistic and attainable. Embrace the change that comes with every new venture and turn your opportunity into reality – Growth Without Borders.