The decision to expand your business and raise it to an international level is not an easy one. In fact that can be the turning point in your business that will determine your future success. Therefore there are certain things you need to do in order to ensure everything runs smoothly and in accordance with your expectations.
The first thing you would need is to do research on the market and do your homework when it comes to the demand of the services or products you offer. Then you should think carefully whether you are prepared for such a big step and do you have the capacity to address the new challenge. Don’t forget to check your legal obligations and your responsibilities and to take into consideration all potential risks that will help you decide whether this action is beneficial for your business.
Bear in mind that the competition is usually huge so it won’t be easy to achieve your goals. It might help if you identify your target market and understand what it takes to earn the trust of the consumers and find your place among the best.
Speak to Experts
Don’t be vainglorious, speak to experts instead. They can teach you the relevant aspects of your new goal and can help you avoid any rookie mistakes. The UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), UK Export Finance (UKEF) and British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) as well as other organizations of this kind will be happy to provide some guidance. Moreover they can connect you with international trade advisors that will be able to assess your business and investigate your chances of expanding it towards the international market. If your business has potential they can even suggest certain markets where you will be able to test your product or services and see the feedback from the consumers before you make a bigger investment.
Create a Business Plan
Another important aspect of going internationally is to have a plan. You should look at the exporting phase of your business as if you were starting a new project from scratch. Every business needs a good business plan which means that your export aspirations would also need one. This plan can include the markets you are targeting, the available budget, your goals and how you plan on promoting your business. The plan is also something that should be discussed with some of the organizations I have mentioned above.
Check Your Finances
Now we come down to maybe one of the most important factors that you need to consider in this type of situation – finances. You should be prepared to cover the difference in the exchange rate, the taxes you are liable for as well as any type of insurance you need to have. Since you will be exporting across the border you would also be responsible for any shipping or storage of your goods which might have negative effect on your profit. This is also another thing that you might want to discuss with the UKEF and look into your options.
Don’t forget to alter the price of the products or services you offer and bring it in line with the additional costs you might have. If you keep the same price you have on the domestic market you will probably end up losing rather than earning any money.
Know the Demand of Customers
Since at this stage we have dealt with the market, now it is time to deal directly with the potential customers. Study their culture, their living standards and take into consideration any language barriers that might be an obstacle for your business. These things will help you get an idea whether there is a demand for the services or products you offer and if it is a market worth exploring.
Don’t forget that the same rules might not apply for all countries. Therefore you will need to prepare the entire documentation and have all the regulations covered so you won’t get in trouble with the authorities. Be prepared to be swamped with tons of paperwork which you must hold on to in case somebody asks for it.
The Distribution Process
Once you cover all of the above it is time to think about the distribution of your services or products. There are several options you can choose from, such as: hiring a distributor who will charge you a certain percentage of the total value of your sale; hiring a local agent who will act in your behalf, either sell or just locate customers and work on a commission; or you can join forces with a local business that understands the local market. These options can be very beneficial for you, especially at the initial stages of your exporting practice as they will help you get the grasp of the local market.
You will need to find a good way to distribute your products to the end users. Plan your cross border distribution taking into consideration the customs clearance or the local taxes you are liable for. And finally invest in some good marketing. You can’t expect to sell your products or services if the people don’t even know that you exist. The best approach would be to check how other local companies promote their products or services and learn from them. Be unique and do not underestimate the power of good marketing. You would be surprised to learn how certain products and services have gone viral just because of good marketing.