What to expect when planning to expand abroad

What to expect when planning to expand abroad

For a small business conquering the United Kingdom is a feat, showcasing your brand across a whole country takes a lot of hard work, marketing and brilliant service. But for those who seek continuous growth, this conquest is a mere stepping stone in their grand plan to conquer the globe. If this sounds like you or your business and you’ve not yet made the leap from UK to your next planned country then this article may be helpful to you. There are a lot of things to consider when expanding a business abroad that any inexperienced entrepreneur could easily overlook having never experienced the move before. To be sure you’ve covered the majority, here are a few things you should expect to deal with when deciding expanding your business abroad, before all of the legalities and requirements kick in.

Assuming a country has been chosen by your company to expand to, you should be able to research what products are already in circulation in their market. Find out if the country is already familiar with your product or whether it is something completely new to them. The answer to this determines your approach, as you are either a brand new company with a brand new idea to bring to the table and can market yourselves as the one and only brand to carry the product. Or you will have to throw your brand in at the deep end into a market that already exists, researching competitors and what they do. It is worth evaluating what they do and how they go about running their business and marketing schemes so as not to cross any boundaries. Check if there is space for you, if the market is doing badly it may not be worth joining for now, otherwise if the industry is booming you will need to take a step back and evaluate whether you have the resources to compete with such successful brands.

You know where your product stands, great! But before moving forward it is good to consider whether they will actually receive your product well. Planning to expand to a company with a booming eCommerce system is a great idea in theory, but if they have no interest in or are actually offended by your product and its values it could kill your company’s name both over there and at home in the UK. To try and prevent this, learn the overall lifestyle and culture of the country you are attempting to expand to. Note differences in diet, climate and even public events that clash with those from the United Kingdom as each country’s yearly cycle differs dramatically depending on history. It’s no use sending westernised products to countries that cannot afford your prices within their lifestyle, or taking a summer based product to a place that is notorious for consistent cold temperatures, it just won’t work.

If you’re completely sure that your product has a good chance of standing strong in this foreign market you now need to know if you can feasibly work with the country. Can you actually communicate effectively enough with its residents and businesses to start the wheels in motion without if they do not understand your language either partially or fully. Many companies overlook language barriers and assume they can find and do business with someone who speaks english, but this is simply just not the case. On the rare occasion you might find someone (unless expanding to an english speaking country) expect their vocabulary to be broken at best, do not assume and be pleasantly surprised if you do come across a whole industry of english speaking people to work with. Once you’ve worked out  communication, you need to know if you can actually build up some sort of base there. Are you able to create an office, store stock in a warehouse and have reliable delivery services, or is this all something that needs to be built up from scratch yourselves. The lack of these essential parts of a business can make the move an even more expensive venture than you originally planned on to put them in place for yourself, possibly so expensive it’s worth abandoning for a while.

You’ll then have to take note of how you would go about importing your products, or if you even can. Check laws and hope that you’ve chosen a country that allows UK imports happily across its borders. Find manufacturers if you need to and build further connections throughout the country. Make sure you have reliable information about the processes for transporting your goods, a reliable courier and a transportation system to get them to your warehouse or overseas distributors. Take a look at your products history within the company (if it has one.) Especially look out for any issues that have been had with it, whether any restrictions or regulations have been put upon it that still apply so you can adapt and adhere to them to avoid any unwanted fines or prosecution.

Most importantly of all you can expect to have to be patient. Moving a brand abroad for the first time or any time takes a lot of hard work and communication, things that do not happen overnight. You may have an ideal time frame to get everything completed within but it may be wise to be willing to cast this aside in exchange for slow progress as some is better than none. Keep in mind the hurdles you are about to jump and all of the barriers that stand in your way. You have a long process of making connections, being evaluated, adapting to laws, working standards and a new market before you can even think about completing your move. Take the time to do as much research as you possibly can, build a stable base for your new branch and think of it as starting an entirely new company in terms of workload and time frame.

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