Expanding abroad? What you need to know first.

Expanding abroad? Here's how to start.

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Are you thinking of selling globally — and hoping to win new customers and secure big profits? If so, then you need to tread carefully. But don’t be put off.


There’s a point in the entrepreneurial journey when expanding abroad seems the right thing to do. It’s seductive, of course, with the promise of travel, glamour and the kudos of having a global empire in the making. Such a move can make perfect sense though: A new market may become your most profitable stream of revenue and turn out to be that moment when your firm ‘really took off’.

However, the risks are significant. Over-reaching and over-spending can be enough to topple an otherwise-stable business. Unknown local market dynamics and factors could trip you up. And then there are those logistical and language hurdles.

That said, if you follow these five steps, you’ll be on safer ground.

Step #1: Choose your market
It’s easy to say ‘abroad’, but which country first? Research what the local competition is offering and the level of demand from customers. Also, use industry events and networking contacts to get insights from people who work in that country. Then consider what the culture and language gap may mean for you: Do you need English to be spoken? Do you have issues with time-zone or proximity? For example, is Brazil more suitable than the US, or South Africa better than Germany?

Step #2: Fine-tune your proposition
Focus on just a few verticals — and adjust your product or service offerings to fit the local market, based on your research.


Note: this post has been published as an article in The Executive Magazine, where you can find the full version.

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