For most businesses, building and maintaining a local customer base is one of the first steps on the road to success. Once they have achieved this they're ready to take on the next step: expanding internationally.
So what does it take to successfully turn a business from domestic to international?
Firstly, business owners must ask themselves this - are they ready to go global?
Creating a strong international presence is rarely as simple as telling your customers you export overseas and then waiting for the sales to roll in. There are numerous factors that must be considered carefully to determine whether a business is really ready to expand:
Does a customer base exist in the country or countries you want to enter? A product/service that has been successful in the home country may not necessarily have the same appeal elsewhere, so it's crucial to invest time into researching potential foreign markets. Traveling to the country will allow you to experience the culture and social norms of the people you'll be marketing to.
Do you have the available resources and staff to focus on expansion? Business owners must ensure that before they decide to expand they have the financial and structural stability to add staff members who can handle the new influx of work that comes with such growth.
While the international market may be a perfect target for your business, expanding beyond your border isn't without its challenges:
Language and cultural barriers: Selling to customers or working with agents who don't speak your native language can be a significant obstacle.
Local regulation: Some businesses may struggle to navigate the various tax codes and business regulations in the country they are trying to expand in, which if not complied with can be a costly.
Slower pace: In the UK, the business world moves pretty quickly. Business doesn't move at the same pace in other countries therefore building relationships is a long-term commitment.
Local competition: businesses will need to work a little harder to convince the international market that their brands are trustworthy and better than the competition.
So what is the most important piece of advice from business leaders who have been there before?
Find the right partner(s), it's critical that you don't try to go it alone. You will need the help of someone you trust, who can vouch for you in the country or countries you're looking to break into.
With a network of Accredited Chambers of Commerce covering the breadth of the UK, and British Chambers in every high growth market across the world, theBritish Chambers of Commerce make the perfect partners, providing support and advice to thousands of businesses on their export journey.
Come and meet the British Chambers global network face-to-face in London this November 2015 to tap into a wealth of advice and insights.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn from established exporters, receive country specific advice, and join engaging workshops with your business peers.
Get your tickets now!
See you on 3 November 2015 at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London.