Is your business booming? Have you expanded across the United States and decided it's time to take your product international? Even if you already have a strong suspected market, making your business go global requires dedication, knowledge, and the ability to adapt. These key components of globalizing your company will help you along your path.
Focus on Supply Chain Visibility
The biggest focus for taking your business global should be on supply chain visibility. Visibility allows you to track your products in real time, so you'll always know where your packages are, when you'll have new materials or inventory, and whether customers are receiving their products on time. Without strong visibility, it is more likely that your company will make inaccurate business predictions due to delayed product, mistakes in planning, and overall loss of business. Start by learning where the gaps in supply chain visibility are and filling them in. This could mean adding live monitoring to your manufacturing facilities, tracking product flow during distribution, and tracking the condition of the product as it is in transit.
Learn About Language and Cultural Differences
Depending on which international markets you want to move your business into, differences in language or culture could pose issues. It is very important to learn about local and national customs wherever you plan to take your business. If you don't already know the language, hire a team who does to prevent any serious misunderstandings due to language barriers. Keep in mind, too, that you may even find differences in customs based on different parts of one country. What is acceptable in one area may be considered rude in another. Do your best to work with a team who is local to the area in which you hope to expand, as it will make the transition easier.
Create an International Business Plan
When you started your business at the local level, you created a business plan. Now that you want to take your company global, you need to create a new, international business plan. Begin with market research to help you determine which countries have the biggest demand for your product. Then, plan how you'll enter the new markets, focusing on how you'll distribute, where you'll store your products, and whether you'll need a manufacturing partner. Logistics are important as well, such as how you'll transport your products. Finally, determine how you'll take payment. You may traditionally use U.S. dollars, but it is a good idea to accept local currency as well. You can always entice new customers to use USD by offering a discount if they do. Of course, regardless of how good your plan is, you'll want to visit the market before you start doing business.
Become Familiar With International Regulations
Naturally, following the law is essential for running a successful company. For this reason, learning the international compliance regulations is necessary. Different countries have different tax laws, packaging standards, and business regulations. There will likely be a lot of paperwork, fees for securing international business licenses, and the need to open foreign bank accounts, so be sure to begin the process of learning and adhering to regulations as soon as you decide where you'll be expanding your business to.
Know That Packaging Will Work Differently
The way you package your product is one of the biggest changes you'll likely need to make when you introduce it to new markets. This is because packaging standards in the United States tend to be faster paced and more relaxed in terms of what you need to include. If you expand to European countries, though, expect slower turnaround times along with stricter packaging guidelines. Language is one example. When packaging a product in America, you only need to including English instructions, although you'll likely include Spanish ones as well. In Europe, though, where a variety of languages are more common, you could see the need to include directions in as many as two dozen different languages. Business is also more personal in other countries, which means packaging moves slowly and focuses much more on personal interactions than on fast-paced business dealings.
Build the Right Team
Finally, you need to build the right team to help you expand your business overseas. Naturally, you'll need people who you can trust with the operations of key parts of your company. The people you hire to work in local offices in other countries should know the language and customs, understand your product thoroughly, and be business-minded. Keep in mind that large distributors have plenty of resources but likely won't provide the personal touch you may want to include with your business since they work with multiple companies at a time.
Above all else, never rush the expansion of a company. The faster you try to get your business off the ground in other countries, the more likely you are to make costly mistakes. Slow down and ensure you do everything correctly the first time to help your company make a smooth transition overseas.