Expanding overseas

When is the Right Time to Expand Your Business Overseas?

Let’s face it. Christmas Eve is probably not the best time to expand your business overseas. What with all the last minute present buying and Christmas tipples, there’s more than enough to keep you busy. But if Christmas Eve isn’t the best time to expand your business, when is?

While selling overseas will widen your company’s reach, you should not move into international markets without properly establishing your business on home turf. In this festive edition of the Linguistica International blog, we’ll take a look at five questions you should ask before making that leap.

1. Do you have solid foundations in the domestic market?

Putting the provisions and processes in place to maintain the day-to-day running of your business is a crucial building block before expanding into new markets. Could your domestic business continue to function if you or your senior employees were absent, or spending the majority of your time chasing opportunities overseas?

An important factor in your decision will be your ability to move senior staff from their current responsibilities to focus on the expansion. There’s also nothing to stay they’ll have the necessary skills to develop successful overseas sales and marketing operations. If you don’t have the skills in-house, is training the best bet or should you hire new staff? At the very least, you’ll need someone to be accountable for the export sales part of the business.

2. How will you find new talent in another country?

Finding the right local talent can help your business make its mark overseas. However, many countries will simply not have the skilled labour you’ll need. You’ll also be competing with more established companies who understand how to identify and recruit the best local talent.

One potential source of great local talent will be places of further education, such as business schools or engineering programs. What the candidates lack in real world experience, they’ll more than make up for in enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and lower wages.

3. Can you adapt to the local culture?

Your ability to adapt to the culture is more important in some markets than others. Countries like France and Japan have a strong sense of culture and expect overseas companies to conform to their way of doing things.

In this case, you may have to customise your product to satisfy the tastes and preferences of local customers. At the very least, you’ll have to make sure your marketing message and website has been transcreated in the local lingo.

4. How will you pay for your overseas expansion plans?

The start-up period for many overseas expansions lasts longer than most entrepreneurs anticipate. You have to expect the new operation to run at a loss for a period of time, and be able to sustain this loss. So, not only do you need the initial capital to invest in the infrastructure to make an overseas expansion possible; you also need to have a workable long-term financial plan in place.

Initial forecasts are notoriously inaccurate so make sure you rework your plans as the actual revenues and expenses become clear. No business should expect to enter a new market and turn a profit right away. Businesses that expand successfully are in it for the long-haul.

5. Could you expand your online presence instead?

It is not always necessary to establish a physical presence abroad to expand into foreign markets. Those businesses with a strong online presence can simply adapt their operation to offer overseas shipping and expand their payment options.

Selling online through an ecommerce partner with established international credibility is far more cost effective than building a local presence online. However, in some markets you will still need to develop websites that accept the local currency and are written in the native language.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us here at Linguistica International. We’ve enjoyed an unbelievable 2014, and hope next year brings much of the same for all of our wonderful clients!