Assessing Your Business for Global Expansion
If your business is doing well, you’re likely considering how to position it for continued growth. After all, most thriving businesses are looking to, ultimately, reach that global expansion milestone. The opportunity is unlimited, but the risk is real. How can you know if you’re ready to make the leap? Start by preparing these key areas of your company for the added strains — and possibilities — a worldwide market brings.
Examine Your Offerings
Before you pick a product to share with the world, understand which parts of your business are ripe for expansion. Even if you’re making sales well across all lines, it pays to target one specific area to prep for growth. To be an eligible prospect, that product should be in-demand, have consistent sales and offer a steady flow of recurring customers. Use your sales reports to determine which of your offerings is most likely to succeed in a global market.
Establish Local Guides
Unless you’re already familiar with the new market, it’s wise to enlist the help of an experienced, business-minded individual already living or working in the area. Not only will they be able to help with the minutia of getting permits, dealing with customs and eventual marketing plans, they can alert you to changes that can adversely affect your efforts. Laying the groundwork should include you visiting the region, but an ongoing, inside contact is key — even if hired on a consultant basis.
Get Your HR Ready
Paying workers in the U.S. is a relatively straightforward process, even with the patchwork of state and municipal laws to follow. Bringing on another country’s workforce, however, can complicate matters. What local laws must you follow? Which benefits can and should transfer to those employees? Is it necessary to bring on new, local staff? Or, can you relocate a small team for the interim? Personnel matters should be addressed early on. Bring your HR team up to speed as soon as you think you might be going global.
Although the U.S. has earned a reputation for having high product safety standards, that doesn’t mean you should leave your manufacturing processes as-is. In addition to ensuring you comply with the product laws in the new country, you have to consider additional tweaks to your product that may make good business sense. Manufacturing details that can change by market, include everything from packaging in a different language, to color and cut for wearables. Acceptance of your product by a world audience may require minor, but necessary, production changes.
Make It Legal
Patent and copyright theft is a very real threat when it comes to a business’ global expansion. Introducing your product to a new region comes with the danger of intellectual property pirates taking your ideas, design and/or trade name and creating their own version at a lower cost. It’s imperative to bring in legal minds before you expand to see what steps you can take to keep your secrets protected and your brand clearly marketed as your own. Although you can’t do much to prevent inferior knockoffs, it is possible to differentiate yourself as the real thing through proprietary tech or design methods. Get your legal team to help with regular patent and trademark review.
Review in Advance
There’s much more that goes into scaling for growth, including budget reviews, hiring new staff and market launch. But by reviewing these key areas in advance, you’ll be in a good place to start making your company a globally-recognized brand.