Taking your company international might be one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do. Regardless of your origin story, expanding abroad will pose a unique set of problems and challenges that you’ll need to overcome to make it big on the global market.
There are countless things to consider, and no internet guide can fully prepare you for the difficulties that lie ahead. For instance, international business is a world of language barriers. According to experts, the lack of properly localized products and services is one of the key factors that lead to any business’s failure in its target country.
Languages aside, there are other obstacles a business must tackle to really establish itself on the international stage. Differences in legal systems, tax regulations, and supply chain mechanics can be easily overlooked and lead to your business failing to materialize its global potential.
If you’re thinking of expanding outside of your host country, consider these five basic aspects of conducting international business before taking your company abroad!
1. Legal knowledge
The very first thing that you have to take care of during the planning phase of your international expansion is putting together a team of legal experts that will help you navigate the world of business limitations, new taxes, and other financial regulations in your target country. It would help if you learned how to process payments and carry out transactions in a way that doesn’t violate any local laws. Otherwise, your international business adventure may end before it even properly begins.
2. Team of language experts
Many untapped foreign markets with high growth potential are located in countries where most people don’t speak English at all or can operate it at a fundamental level only. Even if you’re expanding into a first-world state where the population is well-versed in the lingua franca of the 21st century, the inability to localize your products and services shows a striking lack of professionalism. It doesn’t really bode well for the international future of your business.
International business is all about logistics. From supply chain planning, through coordinating meetings and video conferences all the way to the very basics, such as opening and maintaining multiple business bank accounts, everything needs to click flawlessly. Your employees should show the right level of logistical acumen to turn your venture into international business success. It is one of the most stressful and important parts of the whole process, and it will only get more intense and complex as you start to expand further and become a truly global business.
4. Adjusted pricing strategy
The purchasing powers of various currencies can differ drastically, which means that your prices should be adjusted to these differences. You may have to set them lower than you’d like if you want your product or service to sell well.
If you craft your strategy reasonably, it should be flexible enough to allow your business to hike up prices accordingly with the target countries’ economies at any particular time. Keep a tight check on what competing companies are up to in these markets, and make sure they don’t outsell you due to your unrealistic sales expectations.
5. Cultural sensitivity
Finally, it would help if you fine-tuned yourself and your employees to be particularly sensitive and understand your host nation’s culture and customs. This might be really easy if you’re expanding into culturally-similar countries but can spell real trouble if the cultural practices are drastically different.
Be particularly wary of places in Asia, such as China or Japan. Business is done very differently in those countries, and failure to adhere to their practices can drive you out of there sooner than you think. For example, Japanese business people won’t cooperate with you if they don’t like and trust you. If you want to achieve international success, you will absolutely need to acquaint yourself with local business etiquette, no matter where you decide to take your company.
The bottom line
The tips outlined above are just a starting point for getting into the world of international business. In fact, each one of them should be considered a separate category, with its own intricacies and specialized knowledge required to carry out business operations abroad successfully.
The biggest challenge of international business is that every time you expand to a new country, all the effort has to be repeated, with all of the special characteristics and quirks of the target nation taken into account. Once you get big enough, this work will never seem to stop, and if you want to be successful, you need to be ready for that.