Evolving technology continues to make the world a smaller place, and the opportunity for expansion beckons to those daring enough to dip their toes into the global market. However, in many cases, these markets are dominated by major international brands – leaving little room for competition. In the minds of smaller manufacturers and innovators, they simply can’t compete on a global scale.
With that said, there are huge perks to smaller businesses expanding out of their comfort zone and taking on the mammoth brands. There exists a catalogue of untapped markets around the world waiting to be exploited, and with the right corporate technology and know-how, it could very well be you that beats anyone else to it – regardless of size.
Why go global?
By expanding globally a company effectively takes all of their eggs out of one basket. In hedging bets, you’re no longer strictly reliant on the domestic market you currently find yourself in – and won’t be crushed by any potential market downturns.
In taking a company global, you may also find that product life gets extended. What’s old news at home could be completely new a few boarders away – immediately opening yourself up to newer markets and customers. Furthermore, seasonal fluctuations become a thing of the past. While it’s summer at home, it’s winter on half the globe meaning seasonal products won’t become redundant six months down the line.
Outside the significant growth potential that arrives hand in hand with going global, there are certain problems that an expanding business can easily run into. The good news is that these problems can be resolved fairly quickly with the right preparation ahead of any move.
Identifying your audience
It may sound simple, but it’s important to remember that what sells at home may not sell in other markets. It’s time to do your homework: What demographics are you looking at? What are their values and attitudes? Is there a demand for what you’re offering? How inclined are your customers to purchase your product?
In the early stages, it may be worth keeping closer to home in terms of market differences. Find somewhere that’s similar to the one you’re currently working in; be certain that your audience exists in order to lower risk as much as you can.
Addressing the language barrier
Unsurprisingly, surveys found that only 25.3% of internet users speak English as their native tongue. While that may make up a significant amount of the world’s population – it’s only quarter of what you could potentially tap into, and the slightest mistake in translation can seriously undermine your company’s credibility and lose customers before you’ve even reached them. A GCSE in foreign languages most definitely will not suffice; you need professionals. Granted, it’s more time consuming and costly than a quick Google Translate, but delivering the correct message with perfect grammar and syntax is of utmost importance.
The same goes for visiting different countries, too. Taking a translator to any business meetings in countries where you don’t speak the native tongue is vital – you can’t do much with a huge language barrier, and not being prepared can definitely be seen as a lack of respect.
Select the right team
Having the perfect team in your expedition across borders is paramount to success. Studies suggest that 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 50% in their fifth year and 70% after their tenth – and the kind of team employed by a business has a huge role to play in that.
You need people on your side with passion, understanding, and most importantly, experience. Even if your ‘partner’ seems more of a mentor, having that knowledge on your side will send you down the road to success.
Research cultural differences
This should go without saying: research is vital. Cultural differences play a huge part in the way that your product sells – be it the marketing, the values and attitudes of your customers (as previously mentioned) or even the deeply ingrained norms of a society – it can have a massive impact on a product launch.
Take information from those within the society itself as well as from the outside. A Japanese local might feel no need to mention that blowing your nose in public is socially unacceptable, nor that holding doors for others is an alien concept to them. Does that have an affect on your product? Maybe not those two specifically, but there will certainly be others. Having the opinion of an outsider as well as an insider will go a long way.
David Feakins is the CEO of Modus Brands