Taking a business overseas is no mean feat. There’s a huge amount to consider from a logistical perspective, but there’s a great deal of questioning to do well before this stage.
If you’re unsure what to look for in your own business, here are a handful of signs that your business has global potential…
You’re in a strong position
The first indication that your business might be ready to expand overseas is that you’ve well and truly taken care of it at home first. You’ll have a secure base of clients or customers, and you also feel confident that your business is in good shape insofar as your domestic team is concerned.
A strong team of directors and managers can hold the fort while you’re looking internationally, but without them in place, your business could crumble. So, the key thing is ensuring that your business could run smoothly without you for at least a few weeks at a time.
If you’re able to do this, and your customers are happy too, then it could be a sign your business has the potential to handle international expansion.
There’s a gap in the market for your product
Feeling as though you’ve saturated your market is a sign that it might be time to find another one – and it will certainly be less stressful if you do it now, rather than waiting for a lull in your domestic market. But, you’ll need to conduct extensive market research first.
Identify which markets could be best-suited to your product, bearing in mind that you don’t necessarily need to find a ‘gap’ in it in the sense that no-one else is offering your service or product. However, you should at least be able to point to a few key factors that highlight how you can deliver a better service than your competitors do.
But, don’t be tempted to explore a particular market simply because it’s the most convenient for you: the results of your market research will indicate where (and where not) to explore, perhaps including a handful of emerging markets.
Your financial forecasting looks healthy
No business should consider international expansion unless its finances are in good shape, but a healthy forecast suggests that now could be a good time to take on a global move.
Don’t forget, however, that international expansion can cost a considerable amount, and while there’s the cost of legal and taxation issues to handle, there’s also the logistical challenge of finding distributors, suppliers, office space, and workers too.
Therefore, you’ll need to have factored in the means to pay for all of this, as well as the means to find and on-board a new team of staff (or at pay a reliable third party to do this part for you).
You receive international inquiries
A critical sign that your business has global potential is that you’re receiving inquiries outside your domestic territory. This might suggest that there’s a body of customers waiting for you in another geographic market – particularly if you keep receiving inquiries from a particular region.
However, take it slowly: just because you’re getting lots of inquiries from North America doesn’t mean it’s time to set up in Wyoming. But, it is a good sign that there could be an opening for your business over there.
Competitors are already doing it
Have your competitors already expanded internationally? If not, it could be a warning sign that it’s not the most profitable venture. Alternatively, it could just mean that now’s the time to make the leap before your competitors beat you to it.
Don’t feel disheartened if your competitors are already on the international stage – the fact that at least one business in your industry is making a success of it could mean that your business has global potential too.
External conditions are favourable
Of course, these are only signs that your business might have global potential. The most reliable indicator will be the result of extensive market research, many conversations with consumers on the ground, and perhaps some honest conversations with other businesses in the region.
You’ll also need some favourable external conditions playing in your favour, such as good exchange rates, customs laws and tariffs, as well as a stable political climate too. But whatever the case, there are certainly huge benefits for those who find that a calculated risk pays off. The question is: will you be one of them?