It’s the dream of all small business owners to extend their reach well beyond their local marketplace because it opens the opportunities to grow a larger brand (and higher profits).
The web has facilitated much of small business growth because it demolished the physical borders and barriers, but there is still something to say about having a real presence in a foreign marketplace that cannot be replicated through online commerce alone.
Moving a business (or parts of it) overseas brings with it a wide range of benefits:
- There are, at times, very little competition within the marketplace for experienced businesses
- Foreign workers are plentiful
- Many financial benefits are to be had when moving to certain regions
- A physical presence allows the business to become one with the community
- It progresses the brand and opportunities to franchise the business within the new marketplace
The benefits of moving a business (or part) overseas is stacked in the good category but it is important to know some of the issues and “snags” one may face when making the transition.
One such issue a business may face when going global is cultural acceptance.
- The locals may not entertain the idea of your business coming in and taking over those businesses that have been seen as a community staple
- Understanding a new culture is more than reading a Wiki page or attending targeted business training sessions about the culture; the process takes time
- Economic, social, and government interaction may pose issues during dire times if the regions is far less stable than the one your business originated
The best course of action you can take to alleviate this issue is to physically show face in the region for months ahead of the decision. While at the location it would be wise to mingle and hire professionals within the marketplace, which can provide you with detailed insight about the marketplace they know.
A second issue when expanding beyond its borders is handling distribution & logistics.
- Will part or the whole of the business make the move to the new location?
- How will products, machinery, and other business assets reach the new destination?
- What systems are in place for distribution & logistics once you’ve arrived?
All serious questions that need answers before you make the decision. You can setup in a new location but if your plans for these two items aren’t concrete, you will be left without product on shelves or stuck without a method to deliver them to paying customers.
The course of action to consider is sourcing professional distribution and logistics companies that already have a global presence and can guide you through the process of integration. Companies like Unigroup Logistics not only transport the physical assets but provide expert guidance and distribution centers in popular destinations for businesses around the globe.
A third issue to arise comes about as a form of culture shock & team segregation.
- A business may choose to remain operational in their home country with a main team but setup shop in a foreign marketplace thus creating two teams which may cause communication problems and cultural misrepresentation.
- A complete shift from country A to country B, taking existing employees along, may be a stressful upheaval for those who decided to go, so policies should be put in place to ease these employees into their new surroundings.
- Time zone differences will also pose certain problems with keeping projects in motion which is why you will likely turn to team management tools; these are necessary to keep the team together and moving in the right direction rather than segregating them and (inadvertently) pitting them against one another.
Your best course of action is to place social platforms and other tools that allow seamless integration and communication between the teams such as email, forums, live chat, video conferencing, and team management software. A dedicated hour, each week, also helps to create bonds between the teams.
The More You Know
Taking the business (or a part of it) overseas can be a tricky process but if done right the benefits are plentiful and there is much rewards to be had.
For further reading on the topic consider these articles:
Is your business ready to make the jump into a new, foreign market? What plans are you putting into place to ensure an easy integration? Share your thoughts & ideas with a comment.
Photo credit: Tomas Fano / Flickr