Expanding across international boundaries can open new possibilities for a growing business. Untapped markets present an opportunity to supercharge that growth. But if it were that easy, then everyone would be doing it. To make a success of your international business, you’ll need to overcome a series of challenges – often in quick succession.
It’s worth making yourself aware of these challenges, and to spend some time considering how they might be overcome. Let’s look at some of the more common questions you might pose to yourself to expand your business internationally, including conducting international e-commerce.
Are You Ready?
The fact is that many businesses go international before they’re truly ready. Have you made the most of your domestic opportunities? Are the risks justified by the benefits that international trade might confer? Perform a formal risk-assessment before you start to make those initial steps; you’ll thereby be made aware of challenges particular to your circumstances, which you might otherwise not have foreseen.
Are You Legally Compliant?
Different countries and territories do things slightly differently, from a legal point of view. Your practices and procedures might be perfectly legitimate in one place, and dubious, if not outright illegal, in another. Tax codes, tariffs, regulation and packaging standards might represent a significant impediment – so be sure to factor in the cost of dealing with it all. Consulting a competent solicitor ahead of time will allow you to react quickly when legal challenges present themselves, and to anticipate them before they happen.
Do You Understand the Culture?
Cultural differences can be difficult to quantify, but they play an enormous role in the success or failure of a given expansion. This applies especially to certain products, like foods and drink. It might be that you need to adapt your methods to the new market. To establish whether this is the case, you’ll need to consult with people who are familiar with that market – which often means locals. Collaborating with experienced partners overseas will help you to overcome not only the language barriers, but the cultural ones, too.
Is the Infrastructure in Place?
Having to build infrastructure as you go will lead to mistakes, some of which may be difficult to correct. Decide what sorts of decisions will be made at head office, and which will be delegated to satellites. Make sure that your employees have a safe and secure means of sharing data across international boundaries, and that your computer systems are up to the task.